UTEP Football Offensive Report Card – Rice
Mercifully, the UTEP football season came to an end late Saturday afternoon at the Sun Bowl. Despite the Miners leading Rice by two at halftime, the Owls dominated the second half and dealt the home team their 11th loss of the season, by a final score of 30-16. As you would expect by the score, UTEP had two different offensive showings in this game. The first half with Kai Locksley running the offense and sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison in the second half. Let's get to the offensive report card.
Really could split this up and give Locksley a A- and Hardison a D. Kai was able to move the offense and successfully engineer a touchdown drive while completing 75-percent of his passes and another 63 on the ground. A broken left wrist late in the first half ended Lockley's day and career at UTEP. When Hardison entered the game, the strong-armed signal caller struggled in the Run-Pass-Option offense and also did not connect often enough with his receivers. If Hardison is the future of the program, his inexperienced showed against the Owls and his lack of playing time this season will make 2020 a major work-in-progress for him.
RUNNING BACKS: D+
Other than Lockley's strong first half, the Miners were not effective on the ground. Treyvon Hughes rushed for only 29 yards on 13 carries and no other back had more than a handful of carries.
WIDE RECEIVERS: C+
Much like we have seen for most of the season, Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett carried the Miners receivers and they hauled in 12 of the teams's 19 completions. These two along with Tre Wolf and Devaughn Cooper will give UTEP a nice nucleus for next season provided the team can find someone to reliably get them the football each week.
OFFENSIVE LINE: C-
The Miners OL did a nice job of protecting both quarterbacks, but they failed to open up any significant holes for the running game. Freshman Jeremiah Byers was flagged three times for false starts while Darta Lee received a personal foul call.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Senior punter Mitchell Crawford shanked his first boot of the game which gave Rice great field position and led to the first score of the game. He settled down after that and averaged 36.7 yards on seven punts. Senior kicker Brady Viles missed an extra point after the team's defensive touchdown and a high snap also led to a rare missed field goal from Gavin Baechle, although he did connect on a 45-yard kick to end the first half. The Miners did not do much in the return game.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: C-
You could easily make the argument that the final grade should have been a D since the UTEP defense accounted for a touchdown in the first half. However, the team's first half performance helped them to the C- final grade. With Locksley and Brandon Jones both finished as seniors, the future at quarterback will be the biggest mystery heading into the offseason for the Miners.