UTEP Football Defensive Report Card – New Mexico State
In the Battle of I-10, the Miners needed a complete game from their defense in order to bring back home the Silver Spade and Brass Spittoon.
Problem was, in arguably their worst defensive game of the season, UTEP crumbled and could not hang with NMSU, falling 44-35 for their 10th straight loss.
Defensive Line: D-
It was yet another disappointing outing from the defensive front, not being able to provide the adequate pass rush against NMSU quarterback Josh Adkins and could not slow down dominant running back Jason Huntley.
Josh Ortega, who got the start up front, performed the best for UTEP on the defensive line, registering five tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry.
Overall though, the defensive line allowed 191 rushing yards to Huntley, who also scored three times on the ground. UTEP only had one sack on the night and could not contain the run game.
The linebackers disappeared throughout Saturday's finish, as NMSU took over in the late part of the game. Linebacker Stephen Forrester of the Miners led the linebackers in tackles with seven and a tackle for loss, but the linebacker group could not do anything as a unit to provide some help for the struggling defense.
In weeks past, it has been the UTEP secondary that has really faltered in big situations. In this game, it was missed tackles, lack of execution and allowing an effective Aggies pass game at the most inopportune times that killed the UTEP secondary.
Safety Michael Lewis led the team in tackles (12), followed by safety Adrian Hynson (8).
Adkins threw for 175 passing yards against UTEP, including nine completed passes to OJ Clark for 72 receiving yards.
This could be seen as the worst performance of the UTEP defense this year considering the quality of the opponent and how much they struggled down the stretch. The Aggies totaled 441 yards of offense against the Miners and when they needed a score, they ripped through the Miners' defense.
The point where Kai Locksley threw a touchdown pass to Jacob Cowing in the second half was a point where the Miners could have put this game out of reach, up 22-21 with a ton of momentum. The Aggies marched down the field with ease following the UTEP touchdown, including a significant third and fourth down conversion and eventually scored on a passing touchdown.
Where did UTEP's once-promising defense go?