UTEP Offensive Report Card – Houston Baptist
The Miners received a big scare last night from Houston Baptist, but UTEP was able to slip past their FCS opponents for their first home win in 1,008 days. Each week, we will take a look at both sides of the ball and grade out each position. While Adrian wrote up UTEP's Defensive Report Card, here are the team's offensive grades after their 36-34 win over the Huskies.
Brandon Jones had an up and down kind of night in his second career start for the Miners. The senior hit Tre Wolf for an 80-yard touchdown in the beginning of the second quarter to get UTEP on the scoreboard. He also completed just 50-percent of his passes and threw a costly pick 6 later in the second quarter. Jones finished the game 10-20 for 268 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked three times and he needs to get rid of the football sooner. On the bright side, he threw to eight different UTEP receivers. With Kai Locksley waiting for his opportunity, Jones will need more consistent performances to keep his starting job.
RUNNING BACKS: A+
The Miners won their first home game in nearly three years because of their running game. Senior Treyvon Hughes dominated with 144 yards on 23 carries and a pair of touchdowns. He was given the game ball by Coach Dimel. Hughes is a powerhouse and he should be able to handle a similar workload throughout the season. Josh Fields added 61 yards on seven carries and the Miners gained 240 yards on the ground for the game.
WIDE RECEIVERS: B+
Sophomore Tre Wolf highlighted the night with an electric 80-yard TD reception after he broke free from the Huskies' coverage and Jones hit him in stride. Wolf finished with 96-yards on a pair of catches and Alan Busey added 57-yards on two receptions. Six other UTEP players caught a pass, including newcomers Devaughn Cooper, Jacob Cowing, and Jess Trussell. Cowing started the game for the Miners, and the true freshman has a ton of promise. The UTEP receivers had plenty of other opportunities to add to the stat column but Jones misfired on multiple throws. Still, the passing game added 268 yards of offense and this unit has a chance to be much better than people expected a few weeks ago.
OFFENSIVE LINE: B-
This veteran group opened up holes all night for the UTEP running backs, but they also gave up three sacks in the contest to a Houston Baptist defense that had been among the worst in FCS last season. A costly first quarter face mask on Zuri Henry backed the Miners up 15 yards and led to a field goal. A bad snap over the head of Jones led to a third quarter safety. Still, this unit has big play potential as long as they can limit the mistakes.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Newcomer Baechle made all three of his field goals, which was huge for the Miners' offensive momentum. He added six touchbacks in eight kickoffs. Mitchell Crawford only punted twice in the game and he averaged 43 yards per boot. UTEP hardly had any return yards and a costly fumbled punt by Walter Dawn in the third quarter led to a Houston Baptist field goal. Dawn also ran out a punt that same quarter despite being surrounded by Huskies.
OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE: B+
Prior to last night's game, I expected the Miners to score 37 points on Houston Baptist. They finished with 36, and had a terrific balanced attack. UTEP's 508 total yards featured 240 on the ground and 268 in the air. That total is far from the one-dimensional running team that many expected prior to the start of the season. Give offensive coordinator Mike Canales credit for devising their game plan. Their turnovers and penalties keep me from giving them an A-grade overall. Texas Tech will be a much better challenge next Saturday in Lubbock, but the Red Raiders still had the 80th best pass defense in FBS last season. If Jones can continue to spread the ball around and limit his mistakes, the Miners should be able to score on Tech next week.