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Quarterback scramble against the Knights

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

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Quarterbacks senior Nick Lamaison (7) and junior Carson Meger (13) have both seen playing time throughout the season. Head coach Mike Price played freshman Blaire Sullivan against Houston when the score was 45-7. Price is yet to designate a starter for the game against UCF Nov. 10 at the Sun Bowl.

   The Miners will try to take advantage of their week off when they host the Conference-USA East Division leaders, the Central Florida Knights Nov. 10 at the Sun Bowl.

“I think the big thing is you need to get their minds right, the proper state of mind,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “That’s where they need to be, especially with only three games left. Each and every one is really important to dictate what we get done ourselves.”

Head coach Mike Price has had time to study their rivals with an extra week to prepare.

“They’re the best team in Conference USA. They are a tremendous football team. They’ve got a really good running back in Latavius Murray, he ran for 228 yards last year against us,” Price said. “He’s an Eric Dickerson, Adrian Peterson style back. He could be a first round NFL running back.”

So far this season Murray has rushed for 693 yards, averaging 7.2 yards per carry and scored 10 touchdowns, their sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles has 1985 yards passing and 16 touchdowns for the Knights. However UCF also has weapons in their defense. Senior defensive end Troy Davis currently leads Conference USA in sacks with a total of five for the 2012 season.

Despite UTEP’s 2-7 record, the Knights said they take caution in not getting too confident and are taking it one game at a time.

“We play 12, one-game seasons and this is the next one-game season,” senior Rob Calabrese said. “We had a good week last week, made the corrections, moved on and now we’re ready for UTEP.”

The Miners are coming off a 45-35 loss to the Houston Cougars on Oct. 27 at Robertson Stadium. Quarterbacks senior Nick Lamaison and junior Carson Meger combined for six turnovers, which forced Price to call in freshman Blaire Sullivan with the score at 45-7 in favor of Houston. Sullivan led UTEP to 28-second half points closing the gap by 10, but it was too-little-too late.

“I don’t like the combination of quarterbacks, but that might happen,” Price said. “That’s something we have not seen in college football and not from my team. What’s really neat about this is you can find out the answer on Saturday (Nov. 10) at 5 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.”

Sullivan completed 6 out of 8 passes for 106 yards and rushed for 58 more, as he led the Miners to  score 28 unanswered points, which has opened up the question of which quarterback will start against the Knights.

“He (Price) made a quarterback change, and they came back and were down 10 with only five minutes left. They had a chance to win the game,” O’Leary said. “Even with six turnovers and they played with great effort the whole year. I respect teams and coaches like that. They were down and keep fighting back.”

Last season in Orlando, the Knights defeated the Miners 31-14, a victory that ended the Miners possibilities of playing in a bowl game. In their only previous encounter in El Paso, the Miners were able to defeat UCF 58-13.

“They’re loaded. It’s going to be a difficult game, a real competitive game,” Price said. “They are the best team we’ve played in a while.”

Edwin Delgado may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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