UTEP Football Offensive Report Card – Southern Miss
Four games into the 2019 college football season, the Miners have one win and are still struggling to move the pigskin on the offensive side of the ball. Last night's 31-13 loss to Southern Miss was another rough night of football from the UTEP offense. The only bright spot was that the Miners did not commit any turnovers. It is report card time, and for the third week in a row, high marks were tough to come by.
Kai Locksley was the best quarterback on the field last night, and he had the lone touchdown with a 63-yard run in the third quarter. He also completed 8 of 15 passes for 109 yards. Brandon Jones was just 6-13 for 59 yards. Locksley looked more comfortable last night under center than he has been all season. That being said, I don't know if it will be enough to help the Miners win many football games the rest of the season. Sophomore Gavin Hardison is yet to take a snap, but that could soon change if Locksley and Jones do not jumpstart the offense next week against UTSA.
The UTEP running game was nonexistent all night. Although Locksley's 63-yard scamper counts as a run, the two-headed monster of Treyvon Hughes and Josh Fields did nothing against the Southern Miss defense. Seven combined carries for seven total yards will not win any football games.
This group would have had graded out higher if it was not for the three dropped balls by Walter Dawn, Devaughn Cooper, and Jacob Cowing. Cooper did lead the unit with four catches and he was tied for the yardage lead (51) with Alan Busey. Jess Trussell caught three passes but the rest of the group struggled. I still like the new UTEP receivers, but they have not shown as much as they had in the first game of the season against Houston Baptist.
This was another disappointing night for the UTEP men up front. It is baffling how a group that was supposed to be a team strength has struggled so much through the first four games of the season. Between the awful running game and allowing four sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and three pass deflections, I hope this veteran unit can rally for a big turnaround next week at home against UTSA.
The only thing that kept this group from grading out with an A was the onside kick that backfired late in the first half. The problem with onside kicks at any point but the end of the game is that the coach who calls the play is a genius if it pays off and gets ripped if it backfires. This one did not go how Dana Dimel drew it up. Southern Miss recovered the onside kick late in the first half and drove down for a field goal. Instead of UTEP being down 21-6 with momentum heading into the locker room, they fell behind 24-6.
As for the rest of the night, UTEP's special teams was excellent. Gavin Baechle connected on a pair of field goals, including a 46-yard boot. Punter Mitchell Crawford pinned Southern Miss inside their 20-yard line three times in the game. Although Walter Dawn did not break any long kickoff returns, the team played well on special teams.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: D
Take away the long Locksley run and the Miners had just 231 yards of total offense. Even more alarming is that they ran just 53 plays in the game for an average of 5.5 yards (including the Locksley touchdown). In defense of the Miners, Southern Miss is one of the better teams that UTEP will play in conference this season. Even more good news is that a struggling UTSA that has also lost their last three games will come to the Sun Bowl for homecoming Saturday. If UTEP has any hope to salvage the season, the Miners will need to defeat the Roadrunners.