Miners off to worst start under Price
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
The Miners’ offensive woes continued as the Southern Methodist University Mustangs shutout UTEP, 17-0 on Oct. 6 at the Sun Bowl.
The 1-5 record is the worst start under head coach Mike Price. It is also the first time since 2002 that the Miners start with that mark.
Senior quarterback Nick Lamaison threw two more interceptions in the first half that aided the Mustangs in the win.
“I was particularly disappointed with the offense. We just didn’t do the little things right in key situations,” Price said. “You look at the tape and it’s never as bad or as good as it seems, but we had some opportunities that we didn’t take advantage of.”
On a third-and-goal, near the end of the first quarter, SMU junior quarterback Garret Gilbert completed a pass to senior Darius Johnson, but it was caught out of bounds and the Mustangs had to settle for a 19-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter the Miners were threatening at the SMU 32-yard line. Lamaison forced a pass that was picked off by junior strong safety Daniel Roundtree.
“We weren’t getting the right reads,” Price said. “We need to evaluate and find out what is not working whether it is the executing or the play calling.”
Two drives later, Gilbert found senior wide receiver Darius Johnson all alone and connected for a 40-yard touchdown pass to put the Mustangs up 10-0.
Near halftime, SMU tried to put the game out reach, but Gilbert threw a pass right into the hands of UTEP freshman strong safety Shane Huhn, who got his second interception of the season for the Miners.
“We love trying to get offenses off the field,” senior cornerback Drew Thomas said. “We just need to improve as a team.”
The momentum was short-lived as two plays later, Lamaison threw his second interception of the game, senior middle linebacker Ja’Gared Davis returned it 30 yards for the touchdown to put the game out of reach with 1:52 before the half at 17-0.
On the last play of the half SMU missed a 48-yard field goal and a chance to make the game 20-0.
In the second half the UTEP offense managed to move the ball all the way to the Mustangs 11-yard line.
UTEP finally made its way into the red zone, but SMU forced the Miners to a field goal attempt as sophomore kicker Stephen Valadez tried a 28-yard field goal that was blocked by senior Margus Hunt, who obtained his 17th career block and is now two shy of the NCAA record.
On the ensuing Miners possession, UTEP opted for a fake field goal to prevent Hunt from adding another block, but the pass from junior quarterback Carson Meger to sophomore tight end Eric Tomlinson was incomplete.
“I don’t think it was a given, but we were anticipating it earlier in the game,” Jones said. “They did what they tried to do, they faked a couple on us a few years ago, so we were hopefully able to defend it and we did on that one.”
The Mustangs would miss two more field goals through the remainder of the game, making the final score 17-0 for SMU.
“We saw some good things, but at the same time we got opportunities to get better and fight through it,” Jones said. “Hopefully we just keep getting better and better.”
This is the first shutout for UTEP since they lost 34-0 in 2003 against San Diego State and it marked the second time in 354 games that a team coached by Price was held shutout. The first was in 1984, when Price’s Weber State squad dropped a 48-0 game at home to Montana State.
The Miners will be playing Oct. 11 in Tulsa, Okla., against a 5-1 Golden Hurricane.
Price is currently on his last year under contract with UTEP and will have his contract re-evaluated at the end of the season. Price currently holds a 46-57 record with the Miners. He’s asked for fans to be patient despite many of them leaving the Sun Bowl after halftime of the game against SMU.
“Just hang in there with us. I have nothing but good will towards our fans. I think we have great fans here,” Price said. “I didn’t notice them leaving at halftime. I think our fans are incredible and we always have the best fans of any place I’ve ever been.”
Edwin Delgado may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.