2016-17 Football Previews – (Conference USA) – Miners
Looking for 2016 UTEP Miners predictions? The Texas-El Paso were headed to the New Mexico Bowl last year, despite a sub-.500 record. They accomplished postseason football despite losing their offensive talisman, RB Aaron Jones to injury early in the year. The Miners are at their best when they are running the ball early and often; Jones is back and if he stays healthy, UTEP should be a lot better and look to make another bowl.
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2016-17 College Football Preview – UTEP Miners
Head Coach: Sean Kugler
2015 Record: 5-7
UTEP Miners Odds to win 2017 FBS Championship: +50000
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2016 UTEP Miners Predictions: Team Strengths
Jones had 209 yards on just 32 carries last year before he got laid up, good for 6.5 yards per clip. He was also second-team All-Conference USA in 2014, racking up 1,321 yards two seasons ago.
Assuming the 5″10, 215-lb junior returns to his earlier form, UTEP’s rush offense will be drastically upgraded.
It will also help that UTEP’s offense is built well to block. The Miners are solid at TE, FB and the offensive line; senior TE Hayden Plinke is a useful player who transferred from Boise State, 6″1, 255-lb FB Darrin Laufasa is a total bowling ball.
The front wall is led by a couple of huge senior OGs in Will Hernandez (340 lbs) and John De La Rosa (325 lbs).
All this beef on offense should pry open holes for Jones and sophomore Treyvon Hughes to shoot through.
Another Jones leads the charge on defense, in junior LB Alvin. He had 93 stops in 2015, easily leading the team, and he’s buttressed by DE Nick Usher, junior CB Devin Cockrell and sophomore SS Michael Lewis.
Senior kicker Jay Mattox is talented, going 15-for-19 last year with a long of 50 yards.
2016 UTEP Miners Predictions: Team Weaknesses
Last year’s starting QB Mack Leftwich is out for the year, so, most likely in steps junior Zack Greenlee, a transfer from Fresno State. There is also sophomore Ryan Metz, who filled in for the injured Leftwich last year, but was uninspiring.
The upper limit of UTEP’s potential will be hampered by the pedestrian QB play.
UTEP’s passing game in general in nothing to write home about. The leading receiver, senior Jaquan White, returns this season, but he is not even slated to start.
When your leading receiver has only 41 receptions for 494 yards, you know you’re handing the ball off plenty.
Despite the strength on the inner portion of the offensive line, UTEP’s numbers for the O-line weren’t that great in 2015, especially when Aaron Jones wasn’t in the lineup.
The Miners need everyone on the line to improve their blocking.
Defensively, the Miners need someone other than Alvin Jones to be dynamic. Usher, Cockrell and Lewis are merely solid, but there isn’t a lot of top-flight athleticism on this unit.
2016 UTEP Miners Prediction: 7-5
Basically, Aaron Jones needs to stay on the field. A year of health for him will do wonders for Texas-El Paso’s rushing and ball control capabilities.
UTEP also catches some lucky breaks in the schedule department; the Miners are the only West team to avoid the top three teams from the East division of Conference USA (no Marshall, no Western Kentucky, no Middle Tennessee).
Coach Kugler and the Miners need to make hay while the sun shines.
The Miners are probably good for a couple of win’s improvement added to the slate and another postseason appearance in 2016.
If you like the old-school, throwback “three yards and a clowd of dust” philosophy on offense, the Miners will be entertaining to watch.
2016 UTEP Miners FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
- 09/03/2016 vs. New Mexico St. 8:00 pm
- 09/10/2016 at Texas 7:00 pm
- 09/17/2016 vs. Army 7:00 pm
- 09/24/2016 vs. Southern Miss 8:00 pm
- 10/01/2016 at La. Tech 7:00 pm
- 10/08/2016 vs. Fla. Int’l 8:00 pm
- 10/15/2016 BYE
- 10/22/2016 at UT-San Antonio 7:00 pm
- 10/29/2016 vs. Old Dominion 8:00 pm
- 11/05/2016 vs. Houston Baptist 8:00 pm
- 11/12/2016 at Fla. Atl. 6:00 pm
- 11/19/2016 at Rice Noon
- 11/26/2016 vs. North Texas TBA
What do you think about our 2016 UTEP Miners predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2016!
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