2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The UTEP Offense
Start hitting the passes. The blocking didn’t help with too many sacks allowed and too much pressure on the quarterbacks, and now the passing game has to improve without four of the top five receivers.
On the plus side, the the downfield passing game was there – finishing second in Conference USA averaging 13.7 yards per completion – but the quarterbacks combined to hit just 49.7% of their passes with ten touchdowns and 19 picks. If the passing game sharpens up just a wee bit, the offense should start to work. But …
Biggest Key To The UTEP Defense
Come up with more takeaways and be more disruptive. The Miners aren’t going to be Oklahoma offensively, and the defense has to do its part to do more big things and give the O a few more short fields and easy scoring chances.
The Miners came up with just 11 takeaways on the year and more than one in just two games – one of them was the lone win over Rice. 2014 was the last time the D generated more than 15 takeaways. That has to change, and it starts with getting more pressure into the backfield.
Key Player To A Successful Season
WR Keynan Foster, Sr.
After starting out his career at Florida A&M, the 5-9, 165-pounder found a role with UTEP early on as a kick returner, and last year he started seven games making 18 catches for 313 yards and two scores. He might not have done too much, but he’s the top returning receiver and needs to be a playmaker in a variety of ways for an offense that doesn’t have enough veteran targets.
Key Game To The UTEP Season
UTSA, Oct. 5
It’s not like they’re local rivals – they’ve only played six times, and the two schools are 550 miles apart – but when it comes to the Conference USA world, beating Rice is a big deal for UTEP, and getting by UTSA for the first time since 2016 – UTSA leads the series 4-2 – is a must.
The Miners should be 1-3 to start the season before getting the Roadrunners in El Paso, and this has to be where things turn. With Charlotte and Rice also coming to the Sun Bowl, this is where a home attitude has to be established.
– UTEP Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 UTEP Fun Stats
– Sacks: Opponents 42 for 257 yards – UTEP 20 for 125 yards
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 132 – UTEP 41
– Interceptions Thrown: UTEP 19 – Opponents 5