Freshman Quarterbacks Key For Southern Miss Offense
The UTEP football team has a GOLDEN opportunity ahead of them Saturday evening. The Miners will bring their 4-1 record into Hattiesburg to challenge the 1-4 Golden Eagles. If UTEP can win on the road this weekend, they will be one win away from bowl eligibility when they host La Tech a week from Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
Bowl Eligibility. Let that sink in for a minute. Those are two words that Miners fans are not accustomed to hearing, especially six weeks into the season. That is the reality for head coach Dana Dimel and his team if they can take card of business on the road and spoil homecoming for Southern Miss.
The 2021 season has been one injury after another for the Golden Eagles signal callers. The UTEP defense will focus their attention on a freshman quarterback who will line up against them Saturday night. Fourth string walk-on signal caller Jake Lange will get the start after a 304 yard performance against Rice last weekend. He also threw for a touchdown but also tossed three picks in his first ever Division 1 game. Prior to Lange, fellow freshman Ty Keyes started for the Golden Eagles, but he completed just 51% of his passes for 355 total yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. However, Keyes went down with an injury on the first series against Rice, which allowed Lange to get his first taste of action. Redshirt sophomore Trey Lowe III injured his foot on a kneel down at the end of the first half against Grambling State and he has not been able to return. If Lange gets hurt, next up on the depth chart is freshman Tee Webb, their fifth string quarterback. If the Miners pass rush can establish themselves early, they will be in good position to build on their momentum from the last few weeks.
The bigger challenge for UTEP's defense will be slowing down Frank Gore Jr. The 5-8 freshman running back played last season and is currently averaging 72 yards per game on the ground in 2021. Gore will run behind a veteran offensive line, but Southern Miss has struggled to score outside of a 37-point output against Grambling State in week 2.
One big thing the Golden Eagles have against the Miners is a five game win streak and Southern Miss is 7-3 against UTEP since they joined C-USA. However, this is a different Miners football team and they will not have a better opportunity to win a key road game than this weekend. The Miners are also two point favorites heading into this game. For the first time this season, the UTEP football broadcast will be moving to 600 ESPN El Paso, with Jon Teicher and Mike Perez calling the action and Mando "The Monster" Medina on the sidelines.