Defensive Report Card – Miners Hold Their Own Against Texas Tech
The UTEP defense took a step forward this week, holding their own against Texas Tech through the first half and showing signs of progress in their 38-3 loss.
The improvement from Houston Baptist, where they allowed 300 yards of passing, to Texas Tech (264 passing yards, 424 total yards) might not be seen as a substantial improvement, but it was a marginal increase from week one.
"I was hoping we could get through this game and improve in some segments. I think we improved dramatically defensively, and I think our football team battled," Dana Dimel said. "I thought they battled really hard, and so I'm happy with the improvement that we showed on defense, and offensively, we've got to get back on track."
Here is the report card on the defense:
Defensive line: C+
The defensive front for the Miners showed their fangs in this game, playing a really physical style of football. Defensive lineman Denzel Chukwukelu forced a fumble in the first quarter, while newcomer defensive lineman Praise Amaewhule was credited with a quarterback hurry early on. Both Chukwukelu and defensive tackle Chris Richardson went down with cramps but played the duration of the game.
Though, the defensive line did get beat on the run separate times. Texas Tech finished with 160 rushing yards on the night and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns.
The linebacking group comprised of Joe Jay Smith, Sione Tupou and Jason VanHook had a solid night against the Red Raiders. They adjusted without starting SAM linebacker Kalaii Griffin, who is out with an arm injury, and filled his shoes nicely.
Tupou led the way with six total tackles in his first start this season, followed by Smith's three total tackles and VanHook's big tackle for loss early in the game. This was an admirable outing for a linebacker group that lost a big weapon in Griffin.
After looking lost against Houston Baptist, the secondary stepped up and played competitive football against a tough Red Raiders up-tempo offense. Aside to allowing two big plays—from 49 yards and 30 yards out—the secondary held the Red Raiders multiple times and even created a turnover on a Ykili Ross interception.
Overall defensive grade: C
A step up from last week but still improvement needs to make defensively. A linear improvement means that the coaching staff is doing the right things for game preparation. The game versus Nevada will be a good barometer to see exactly where this defense stands on a talent standpoint.