Can Kugler Cut It? New Era of UTEP Football at a Crossroads
The prospect of a new regime taking over following the disappointing end of the Mike Price era brought a renewed optimism to the Sun City's Miner faithful.
The season opening loss to New Mexico, while disappointing was chalked off to first game jitters and for most seen as nothing more than a blip on the radar.
Following a promising and dominating win in the Battle of I-10 over the rival NMSU Aggies that optimism was back as most felt the "New" Battle of I-10 was the perfect backdrop to kick start the Kugler era with a two-game win streak and possibly the spark that ignited a run to a bowl game at season end.
Unfortunately, UTSA had other plans for UTEP in the Roadrunners Conference USA debut.
Aside from an electrifying 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Autrey Golden, the Miners were dominated on both sides of the ball in an otherwise uninspiring effort by the players and coaches.
At first glance 32-13 doesn't look to bad on a score ticker but if you take away the aforementioned kickoff return and the score could have been a lot worse. Even the offense that was supposed to carry the team early on sputtered mightily through the entire game and especially in the second half when the defense made some essential stops.
After three games even the most optimistic fans would say there is still time to turn things around and while that may be true at season’s end this UTEP team must figure out things in a hurry before this season turns disastrous.
And things won't get easier as UTEP (an early 12 point underdog) travels to Colorado Springs to face a Colorado State team that hung tough with number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide this past weekend. All signs were pointing to a 3-1 start with a relatively soft early part of the schedule; however, the Miners are staring at a 1-3 record with a road loss this Saturday.
By no means is it time to throw in the towel, but when do we start calling this season what it is shaping up to be?
A rebuilding season.