2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 123 UTEP Miners
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the UTEP Miners
No. 123: UTEP Miners
UTEP Miners Prespring Status
This is when the program should be rocking under head coach Sean Kugler, and the team got better over the second half of last year, but there are still way too many concerns and way too many defensive issues from a 4-8 team that came up with a few surprises, but not enough of them. There are just enough annoying personnel losses to hurt, but not enough to take away all hope from a team that didn’t catch enough breaks – and didn’t create any on its own.
UTEP Miners Biggest Issue
Again, there isn’t any one position area that gets gutted, but the losses here and there will really, really hurt. The Miners have to replace both starting offensive tackles, a tight end for the rock-solid Hayden Plinke, a No. 1 receiver to take over for Cole Freytag, a pass rusher to take over for Nick Usher, and most painful of all, a running back to pick up the slack after losing Aaron Jones and his 1,773 yards and 17 touchdowns early for the NFL. Not having fullback Darrin Laufasa to pave the way is a problem, too.
UTEP Miners Biggest Positive
The secondary didn’t come up with enough big plays, but it was okay enough at times to not be a total liability. Three starters return along with a few promising young reserves to battle for jobs. The offensive line that did such a great job paving the way for Jones might need to replace the two guys on the outside, but there’s decent depth – the position battles should be the key to the spring season. Best of all, QB Ryan Metz might just be a keeper after coming up with a decent second half of last year.
Really, Why Are The UTEP Miners Ranked Here?
This was the flakiest of the flaky Conference USA teams last season, coming up with a 20-point loss to a miserable Rice squad, and coming back to destroy North Texas. So with so many key personnel losses, why will the Miners be any better? They might just be flaky on the good side this year – just two more wins make this a bowl team. But until all the puzzle pieces are put in place, and until the depth is established, UTEP looks rocky.