New Mexico Spoils Sean Kugler’s UTEP Debut With A 42-35 Win In Overtime
The New Mexico Lobos literally took the life out of a crowd of 34,907 as they won in overtime at the Sunbowl. The loss was quite a disappointment for Miners fans as they were rather eager to begin the Sean Kugler era.
UTEP showed signs of what fans have become used to, a great offensive performance that was overshadowed by a lousy defensive one. Their inability to stop New Mexico's ground game was their Achilles heal throughout the contest. Lobos' running back Casey Carrier rushed for 291 yards, and averaged 7 yards per carry.
New Mexico's four running backs combined to gain a whopping 395 rushing yards, and the team finished with 483 total yards of offense. They were also able to put together three touchdown drives of 70 or more yards.
There were some bright spots for the Miners as former Burges star running back Aaron Jones had a stunning performance rushing for 127 yards, while scoring 2 touchdowns including one for 65 yards. Jones' 127 rushing yards is the most by a UTEP freshman since 1996. Quarterback Jameill Showers had a solid performance completing 15 of 20 passes for 119 yards with 1 touchdown.
It seemed as though Showers didn't air it out enough as he only went deep twice in the game. When you have a weapon like Showers it is important to utilize his skills in every way you can. When I asked Coach Kugler if he planned on having Showers pass more often in the near future he mentioned,
Coach Kugler also seemed to be rather conservative in the overtime session. Already down a touchdown, he chose to run the ball several times instead of taking at least one shot into the endzone to tie up the game. In the end the Miners came up about half of an inch short of getting a first down a couple of yards shy of the goal line. The decision to continuously run the ball ultimately cost UTEP an opportunity to play in a second OT and win the game.
Coach Kugler had this to say when I asked him why he chose to be so conservative in overtime.
UTEP will travel to Las Cruces to face rival NMSU next Saturday. One thing is for certain, if the Miners don't step up defensively and stop the run, then it will be another long season for them.