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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Miners seek to disrupt UH streak

The Texas El Paso Miners (5-5, 4-2 Conference-USA) roll into Houston as both opportunists and spoilers as they prepare for Saturday’s matchup against the Cougars.

After a 36-10 victory over conference rival Southern Methodist on Saturday, the Miners trail Houston, Rice and Tulsa by one game in the C-USA Western division and are a win away from bowl-eligibility. UTEP is looking to knock the Cougars off their high horse after Houston defeated then-No. 25 Tulsa 70-30 on Saturday.

"We’re catching them at the wrong time, but we’re playing with a lot of confidence too," UTEP head coach Mike Price said in a press conference Monday.

UTEP had all the confidence it needed in Saturday’s contest, pouring 544 total yards on the Mustangs. The spark began with sophomore quarterback Trevor Vittatoe hitting sophomore wide receiver Kris Adams for an 85-yard touchdown pass to grab an early lead. Vittatoe finished with three touchdowns against the Mustangs.

"Our wide receiver corp has really gotten a lot better as the season has progressed and so has our defense," Price said.

The Miners held SMU to 201 total yards as the Mustangs struggled to scrape together a fourth-quarter touchdown to put their only seven-spot on the scoreboard.

UTEP played well on both sides of the ball to outscore the Mustangs 26-3 in the first half, but Price knows the Cougars are also capable of offensive explosion.

"They’re definitely the best football team in our league right now," Price said. "They’re playing on all eight cylinders… and playing hard both offensively, defensively and on special teams.?"

Price said his team will try to limit C-USA Special Teams Player of the Week redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyron Carrier, who had 127 yards and two touchdowns on six catches on Saturday.

"He’s a little guy – 5 feet 7 inches, 160 pounds – but he can fly and he’s a really dynamic player," Price said.

He’s also not overlooking a Houston defense that has held its opponents to 28.1 points per game this season.

"They have a veteran player, Phillip Hunt, who is No.1 in our conference in sacks. We have to come up with a plan to take care of him. He is really fast off the ball," Price said. "We’re trying to find a hole there and figure out how we can attack that defense. Statistically, they haven’t been great (defensively), but they’re playing really well right now."

The Miners will also keep a close eye on injured players. Price said Vittatoe sprained his ankle in the game against the Mustangs and senior kicker Jose Martinez, who hit five field goals in Saturday’s game, has a "contusion on his back and rib cage" and may not play Saturday.

The Miners look to ride the momentum of a two-game win streak after their latest victory. Clinching a sixth win would prepel the team into bowl contention and give them the chance to contend for C-USA bragging rights.

"We have an opportunity," Price said. "And now we need to work hard."

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