Schedule and Odds
Texas-El Paso had a nice 2014 season, going 7-6 with a bowl berth, which came a year after only two wins. The Miners have taken up the character of head coach Sean Kugler, former NFL offensive line coach, who is entering his third season with the team. Their over/under is in the same area at 6 wins, but with an easier Conference Schedule, they could improve on that.
This team is all ground-and-pound and there’s no hiding it. While they’ll have a new quarterback this year with a lot of new targets, their starter last year only attempted 286 passes for 12 touchdowns. MACk Leftwich is expected to step in at QB after playing in Four Games two years ago. The top receiver will likely be Autrey Golden, who led the team with 31 receptions in 2014 as a running back. Fellow running back Aaron Jones was second on the team with 30 receptions and Tyler Batson is set to be a starting WR after only one reception last season.
None of that is a huge deal because they couldn’t really pass last year either. They’re going to run Aaron Jones (1,321 yards, 11 TDs) and company into the ground. Joining him is backup Nate Jeffery (114 carries), fullback Darrin LAufasa and a big offensive line that returns Four starters from last year’s group. UTEP’s strategy is based off of running the ball a ton and keeping opposing offenses off the field. If the passing Game is somehow decent in 2015, that’ll only be a bonus.
The Miners weren’t terrible on defense last year, but again, a lot of that had to do with seeing a small amount of plays en route to allowing just 28.1 points per Game. They return five starters to this side of the ball with three of them being on the line.
Roy Robertson-Harrison is the guy to watch out for on the end along with Nick Usher. OUtside of that, linebacker Alvin Jones looked solid in his freshman campaign and should only improve in his second year in UTEP’s 4-2-5 scheme. The problem this season will come in the secondary where only one starter returns in safety Devin Cockrell. They had a solid pass defense last year, but that probably won’t be the case again.
The Miners over/under is lower than their win total from last year because of new faces on defense and possibly an even worse passing Game. However, despite starting the season with three straight road Games (first two at Arkansas and Texas Tech), their Conference-USA Schedule looks a bit nicer. In 2014, UTEP’s three Conference losses were road Games at LA. Tech, WKU and Rice, three of the best teams. Now, instead of drawing WKU in crossover play, get FIU and FAU. In addition, the Miners will host LA. Tech and Rice, with their road Games coming at Four teams that are projected to be worse than them.
UTEP will have a top rushing attack once again, and that might be all they need to reach Four Conference wins. For the Miners to miss six wins, would be a major disappointment.
2015 UTEP Football Schedule
Sept. 5 at Arkansas
Sept. 12 at Texas Tech
Sept. 19 at New Mexico State
Sept. 26 vs. Incarnate Word
Oct. 3 vs. UTSA
Oct. 10 at Florida International
Oct. 24 vs. Florida Atlantic
Oct. 31 at Southern Miss
Nov. 6 vs. Rice
Nov. 14 at Old Dominion
Nov. 21 vs. Louisiana Tech
Nov. 28 at North Texas