ODU Or Bust — Can UTEP Turn The Season Around Before It’s Too Late?
Five turnovers, blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, one-dimensional ineffective offense, non-existent defense -- not exactly what Head Coach Sean Kugler was expecting in the Miners’ first CUSA matchup of the season.
Forgive me if I don’t repeat the score as most Miner fans have tried to erase it from their memories. Naturally Kugler blamed himself for not having his players prepared to face Louisiana Tech and based on all the tweets I read most agreed the coaching staff was to blame. Even after the Kansas State loss, confidence was still high that UTEP could contend this past weekend in Ruston. A loss while disappointing would not have been a shock to anyone who has followed UTEP football, but the way they lost was something no one expected at any point this season.
Unfortunately, the embarrassing loss will most likely put a damper on homecoming attendance figures and worst yet a loss to ODU could derail UTEP’s chances of becoming bowl eligible at season’s end.
With a struggling UTSA (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) and Southern Miss (2-4, 0-2 C-USA) coming up on the schedule, tomorrow night’s game with the Monarchs is vitally important for UTEP to get closer to that magical number of 6 wins. Put together three wins in a row and all that is left for a 5-3 UTEP is a single victory over their last four games with two of those in the friendly confines of the Sun Bowl. Seems like a lofty goal after last Saturday’s train wreck, but the Miners need a win in the worst way before the season starts to slip away.
If UTEP drops to 2-4, the Miners will find themselves in a 3-game skid heading into a bye week and depending on Jamiell Showers’ performance, Kugler could also be dealing with a quarterback change. The noise from fans isn’t too loud yet calling to bench Showers, but with defenses keying in on the run the pressure is mounting for the senior to make some plays with his arm as the offense looks to get back on track after some abysmal performances. Like coaches say “the next game is the most important game” in UTEP’s case that statement couldn’t be truer with ODU visiting the Sun Bowl.