Report Card: Wisconsin 37 UTEP 26
For the third time this season, the UTEP Miners faced off against an BCS power. After tough losses to Oklahoma and Ole Miss, UTEP traveled to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Much like the previous games, the Miners hung tough and trailed Wisconsin by just 4 points with a little more than 3 minutes remaining. The Badgers were able to survive the scare and win the ballgame by a final score of 37-26. Here is the report card for UTEP:
Quarterbacks: C Nick Lamaison finished the game 22-39 for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he never seemed to be in a groove throwing the football. The good news was that Lamaison did not throw any interceptions, but if you take away that final 62-yard touchdown pass to Mike Edwards, he averaged just 9.38 yards per completion.
Running Backs: C- The Miners ran the ball 33 times for 77 yards. That’s an average of just over 2 yards per carry. On the bright side, true freshman Xay Williams gained 53 yards on just 8 carries, including a touchdown run. Nathan Jeffery returned from injury, but gained just 9 yards on 8 carries. His best run of the day was brought back due to a holding penalty.
Wide Receivers: B Mike Edwards had a huge game, including a pair of touchdown receptions (39 and 62 yards). Jordan Leslie also had a nice game, but no other receiver stood out for the Miners. Also, UTEP’s tight ends only caught one pass for three yards.
Offensive Line: C- This unit had a very tough time avoiding false start penalties (at least five attributed to the O-Line). Lamaison was sacked four times in the game and the line failed to open any substantial holes for the running game.
Defensive Line: B+ Horace Miller was a beast and his two sacks of Stave were highlight reel material for the Miners’ defense. Greg Watkins picked up the other sack. They did a good job shutting down the Wisconsin running backs, and despite being undersized, these defensive ends were flying all over the place and hit extremely hard .
Linebackers: B- A.J. Ropati, Josh Feely, and Aubrey Alexius each had three solo tackles in the game. However, no linebackers were able to register any quarterback sacks, tackles-for-a-loss, or force any turnovers.
Secondary: B Like other games, the UTEP secondary was burned for a long touchdown in the first half, when a defensive back fell down in coverage. However, Drew Thomas had a great game, leading the team in tackles, recovering a fumble, and intercepting a pass. Richard Spencer forced a fumble, but tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season. Spencer, who Mike Price called “the best player on the team,” will be a huge loss for Andre Patterson’s defense.
Special Teams: B- A blocked extra point was returned by Wisconsin for a 2-point score. However, Steven Valadez did kick a 45 and 43-yard field goals for the Miners, which is a huge positive for his confidence and the kicking game. Edwards fumbled a kickoff return with 3 minutes left in the game that helped Wisconsin seal the ballgame.
Coaching: B Once again, Mike Price’s game-plan kept his team on the verge of the upset in Madison, but his offense was undisciplined and their lack of production doomed them. Despite the loss, I thought Price’s team hit harder and came ready to play against the Badgers. The most frustrating thing about UTEP is that they have played much better than Price’s teams of past years, but they just can’t find ways to win these close games against better competition. I hope that changes beginning this week, when they begin C-USA play at East Carolina.