UTEP Boasts Solid Offense, Bad Defense

| July 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

UTEP

Head coach: Sean Kugler (2nd season)

2013 Record: 2-10 (1-7 in Conference USA)

Returning starters on offense: 8

Returning starters on defense: 7

 

With Auburn already on Kansas State’s non-conference slate and an extremely difficult Big 12 schedule on the horizon, it was critical the Wildcats find a couple of softer opponents in 2014. They appear to have done just that, with Stephen F. Austin in the season opener and UTEP on Sept. 27 to round out the non-conference slate.

The Miners finished the 2013 season with a 2-10 record and were outscored by an average of 29 points per game in their final six contests. Over the last two seasons, UTEP has won only five games while losing 19.

UTEP has some talent on the offensive side of the football, but just like Stephen F. Austin, the Miners have several deficiencies on defense.

Let’s start with the offense, which should provide a decent challenge for the K-State defense. Jameill Showers is a talented quarterback and leads the offense. The Texas A&M transfer completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,263 yards and 11 touchdowns last season in his first seven starts, but missed the final five games due to injury. In UTEP’s first seven games with Showers, the offense averaged 28.6 points per game. In the final five without him, the Miners averaged just 13.4 points. Showers, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior, is a dual-threat quarterback who was the Miners’ third-leading rusher in 2013.

UTEP lost its leading receiver from the 2013 season, but including Showers, the Miners return eight starters on offense. Sophomore running back Aaron Jones, who was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team, ran for 811 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per rush last season. Joining Jones in the backfield is Nathan Jeffery. Jeffery, a 6-0, 210-pound senior, is the Miners’ bruising running back. Jeffery ran for 532 yards and averaged 4 yards per rush in his junior season. Jones and Jeffery pave the way for a strong ground game, as the Miners ranked 46th out of 123 FBS teams in 2013, averaging nearly 185 rushing yards per game.

While the offense has some talent, the Miners’ defense struggled in 2013. UTEP’s opponents averaged more than 468 yards per game last season, as the Miners were 107th nationally in total defense. UTEP allowed 39.3 points per game, ranking 115th out of 123 teams. K-State should have success running the football against the Miners, as UTEP allowed 247 rushing yards per game in 2013. Only six teams in the country were worse at defending the run. UTEP’s opponents averaged 6.2 yards per carry.

UTEP only allowed 220 passing yards a game, ranking 49th nationally, but that number is skewed. Opponents still had tremendous success throwing the ball on the Miners, as UTEP was the fourth-worst team in the country in pass efficiency defense last season. The Miners only intercepted three passes on the entire year, ranking dead last nationally. The secondary wasn’t helped by a lackluster pass rush. UTEP only recorded 13 sacks on the season. Only five teams in the country had less sacks.

Just like the season-opening matchup with Stephen F. Austin, K-State’s offense should have a field day against UTEP’s defense. And because of that defense, we have deemed this as the Wildcats’ second-easiest game of the 2014 season.

K-State Opponent Preview: Easiest to Hardest – #1 Stephen F. Austin 

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Category: Blog, K-State Sports

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