Watch Southern Miss 100 Yard Interception Return for a TD Against UTEP [VIDEO]
Entering this season many believed that UTEP's defense would be drastically improved with the addition of Tom Mason from the University of Hawaii and his 4-3 scheme, apparently Southern Miss didn't get the memo as they defeated the Miners handily 34-7 at the Sun Bowl on Saturday night.
UTEP fell to 1-3 on the season, have now lost their last three games, and have given up a whopping 141 points in their last three contests. The Golden Eagles, who won the western division of C-USA last season, and were the preseason favorites to repeat as division champions, punished the Miners throughout the contest by scoring 17 points off of turnovers.
The Miners defense was more efficient than last week by holding Southern Miss to 378 total yards, which is 140 below their season average, but their offense was dismal for a second consecutive week as they only managed to score an early first quarter touchdown off of an Aaron Jones' 68 yard run. As is usually the case, Jones accounted for the majority of the Miners' offense as he rushed for 127 yards on 16 carries. It was Jones' third 100 plus yard performance in four games.
UTEP utilized QB's Zack Greenlee and Ryan Metz in the game, neither of which were effective as they combined to complete 14 of 28 passes for 113 yards. Greenlee threw two interceptions, both of which were picked off by Southern Miss DB Curtis Mikell, and was replaced by Metz in the third quarter. For a second consecutive week the Miners rarely had the ball as they went 1- for -11 on third downs and 0-for-3 on fourth down attempts.
If the Miners don't find a way to create more offensive opportunities for their team, then it will certainly continue to be a long, difficult season for their one dimensional style which has been ineffective since their week one win over NMSU. UTEP will travel to Ruston, Louisiana to face LA Tech in another challenging game next Saturday at 5 p.m. MST.