UTEP Football Defensive Report Card – Charlotte
After leading 21-7 at the end of the first half, the Miners allowed 21 unanswered points defensively as Charlotte came from behind and defeated the Miners 28-21 on Saturday night.
Here is the full defensive report card:
Defensive line: D-
It was a disaster for the defensive line on Saturday. Charlotte started off slow in the first half but had a field day in the second half against the Miners defense. The defensive line has done a good job at containing the run in the past couple games but Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds had quarterback scrambles that totally threw off the Miners. He led the 49ers on the ground with 18 carries for 91 yards, as the 49ers finished with 129 rushing yards.
Again, the D-line did not provide the necessary pass rush to stay competitive in the game. They gave way too much time for Reynolds in the pocket. Senior defensive lineman Denzel Chukwukelu was also ejected for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
This was one of the only units on defense that stayed afloat, especially when the defense started to crumble in the second half. Dylan Parsee, who started in this game, led the way with nine tackles and Sione Tupou chipped in with seven tackles. The surprise of the game was seeing Kalaii Griffin return to the gridiron after breaking his forearm against Houston Baptist. He had four tackles, a tackle for loss and quarterback hurry in his return from injury. Jason VanHook also had UTEP's only sack of the game.
Simply put Reynolds had a field day against the UTEP secondary. Charlotte's passing game was able to orchestrate 252 yards on big plays (plays that are 15 yards or more). Reynolds finished with 354 yards on 24-of-35 passing with a pair of touchdowns. Charlotte receiver Cameron Dollar was unstoppable, with nine catches for 157 receiving yards. It marks the third straight game where the UTEP defense allowed over 300 yards of passing.
UTEP's defense has been inconsistently poor in the past weeks. It is about as frustrating as it sounds. The tip of the iceberg in this game came where the UTEP offense was stalled at the Charlotte 5 yard line, and the 49ers turn around, compile a 10-play, 95-yard drive and finish with a go-ahead touchdown to seal the game.
The Miners' defense has allowed too many big plays against opponents lately and although Michael Lewis had an interception in this game, the defense needs to create more takeaways and be the anchor of this team.