UTEP Football Midseason Report Card
UTEP is going into their bye week with a 2-4 record and the team is coming off of an embarrassing 52-12 performance against FIU. The Miners are using their third different quarterback and injuries have decimated them. In fact, 14 players from the spring's two-deep are either injured or have left the program. Most teams would have a tough time winning games if 10 players suffered season-ending injuries. That being said, it is time to grade the team on their body of work from the first six games of the season.
Quarterback - D Ryan Metz engineered a pair of comeback wins against NMSU and Incarnate Word. That has been the highlight of the season so far.
Running Back - D The Miners built their entire offense around Aaron Jones and had no backup plan in case he got hurt. Despite his strong production against Arkansas and Texas Tech, the UTEP running game has been nonexistent since Jones was lost for the season.
Wide Receivers - C Since head coach Sean Kugler wanted to utilize a power running game, few people expected any production from the receivers. Instead, guys like Cole Freytag, Jaquan White, Tyler Batson, and Hayden Plinke have emerged as legitimate threats.
Offensive Line - D This was supposed to be an experienced group who could protect the quarterback and open up holes for the running game. We are still waiting for that group to arrive.
Defensive Line - D This group has not generated much pressure on the quarterback or stopped the run, and the rest is history.
Linebackers - C Alvin Jones has been the one bright spot on an otherwise disappointing season defensively.
Defensive Backs - F This group has been a disaster. They lost some key personnel early, and the freshmen who have had to step up are getting a rude introduction into Division 1 college football.
Kicker - B Jay Mattox has been consistent for most of the season.
Punter - B Alan Luna continues to get a lot of work but has been excellent.
Return Game - C It's too bad that a returner as dangerous as Autrey Golden has not been able to break a big one yet and set the record for most kickoff returns for touchdowns in college football history.
COACHING - D When Mack Leftwich went down against NMSU, Coach Kugler made the gutsy call to go with redshirt freshman Ryan Metz. He then watched his young quarterback engineer a pair of second half comeback wins. You can make an argument that injuries have killed them and the coaching staff had no chance with the hand they were dealt. "We are down to bare bones," Kugler said after Saturday's game. However, to watch a team come out and play such uninspired football over the last six quarters is troubling, and this group needs the bye week to try and turn the season around.
Final Thoughts - This report card would scare most parents, so think about what must be going through the minds of the UTEP Athletic Department. The fans are angry, the coaches are looking for answers, and hopefully Kugler and his staff can find a way to salvage a season that is quickly slipping away from them.