Friday, August 7, 2015

UTEP Miners Season Preview

The 2014 Miners posted the program’s first winning season since 2005 and played Utah State in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, their first bowl appearance since 2010. UTEP enters this season seeking back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 2004-05.

Junior RB Aaron Jones became the first Miner underclassmen to lead the team in rushing in each of his first two years since John Harvey (1985-86). Jones has averaged better than 5.0 yards per carry in both seasons, while moving into 10th place on the Miners’ career rushing list with 2,132 yards. Jones ended the 2014 season with 1,321 yards, the fourth-best seasonal total in school annals. 

There are six quarterbacks on the roster for the Miners, as Coach Kugler and staff aim to find a replacement for Jameill Showers, who started all 13 games last year while compiling 1,858 yards and 12 TDs. Only two (junior Garrett Simpson and sophomore Mack Leftwich) of the six QBs have taken a snap at the collegiate level but those have been very limited. Leftwich, who redshirted in 2014, started the final four games of the 2013 season after being pulled from redshirt status. He connected on 44-of-75 passes (58.7 percent) for 458 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Simpson, meanwhile, has appeared in five total contests in two years, completing all three attempts for a total of 55 yards (in 2013). The other three signal callers on the squad are all freshmen, with two redshirt-freshmen (Hunter McEachern and Ryan Metz) and a true freshman from the high school ranks (Kavika Johnson). 

UTEP finished with 76 tackles for loss last year after posting 45 during the 2013 season

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