Miami (Ohio)Don Treadwell1978-81
Oklahoma StateMike Gundy1986-89
Texas TechKliff Kingsbury1999-02
Utah StateMatt Wells1994-96
Virginia TechFrank Beamer1966-68
Breaking Down the Coaching Staff
Of UTEP’s nine full-time assistant coaches, six were not on the staff in 2012. They are offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Patrick Higgins, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Scott Stoker, defensive line coach Andrew Browning, running backs coach Cornell Jackson, assistant head coach/offensive line Spencer Leftwich and wide receivers coach Todd Whitten. Holdovers from the 2012 staff are defensive backs coach Gabe Franklin, tight ends coach Brian Natkinand nickelbacks/safeties coach Robert Rodriguez. This group, combined with head coach Sean Kugler, has coached in 33 bowl games. Natkin and Rodriguez are former Miner players, while Higgins (1998-2003) and Whitten (1994-95) have both coached at UTEP previously.
The Miners’ 98-man roster includes 17 seniors, 29 juniors, 17 sophomores and 35 freshmen (21 true/14 redshirt). UTEP has 41 returning lettermen (23 offense/17 defense/one special team) and 12 returning starters (seven offense/four defense/one special team). Senior DL Germard Reed leads the Miners with 29 starts, followed by senior OL Brander Craighead(25 starts), junior OL Jerel Watkins (23 starts), senior DL Marcus Bagley (21 starts) and senior LB Horace Miller (20 starts).
Miners Piling Up the Rushing Yards
Two games into the season, UTEP ranks 12th nationally in rushing average (286.5 ypg) behind Navy, BYU, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Wisconson, Arizona, Army, Baylor, Arkansas State, Houston and Arkansas. With 280 yards versus New Mexico and 293 at NM State, the Miners have rushed for 280 or more in back-to-back games for the first time since the final two contests of the 1994 season (Fresno State 298, New Mexico 309). UTEP’s 573 rushing yards are its most in two games to open a season in the modern era (since 1965), narrowly eclipsing the 571 achieved in 1974 against Pacific (251) and Utah (320). The last time UTEP rushed for 573 yards or more in consecutive games was in October of 2011 (606/266 at Tulane & 340 versus Colorado State).
Eye-Popping Offensive Numbers in General
In its first two games, UTEP’s offense ranks 41st in the nation (472.5 yards per game), while the running attack is ranked 12th in the nation (286.5 yards per game). UTEP has scored 77 points in its first two games of the season, most since 78 in the first two games of the 2005 season (34 at NMSU, 44 versus Houston). It is the sixth-most points scored in the first two games of the season since 1965 (96 in 1965, 85 in 1986 & 1988, 82 in 1967, 78 in 2005). The Miners have compiled 945 yards in 2013, their most in two games to open a season since 1986 (1,055/684 versus Northern Michigan and 371 against Air Force). The last time UTEP had more than 945 yards in back-to-back games was in the final two contests of the 2009 season (984/395 at Rice and 589 versus Marshall). Against NM State last week, UTEP compiled 546 yards of offense, its most versus the I-10 rival Aggies in the modern era and most in a game since the aforementioned 2009 season finale versus Marshall (589).
Defense Takes Dramatic Strides
They say you improve the most from your first game to your second. There was nowhere to go but up for the Miner defense after yielding 483 yards, including 395 rushing, to New Mexico in the season opener on Sept. 7. However, the UTEP stop troops not only improved, but improved tremendously in week two at NM State. The improvement came over the final three and a half quarters. In the first five and a half minutes, the Miners surrendered 163 yards on only six plays to the Aggies, who knotted the score at 14 on their second touchdown with 9:28 remaining in the first period. After that, UTEP settled down to yield 235 yards over NMSU’s final 39 plays. On their last 11 offensive possessions, the Aggies scored one touchdown, punted five times and had three drives end on turnovers. NMSU finished with 99 rushing yards, as the Miners held their opponent under the century mark for just the second time in their last 19 contests dating back to the 2011 season.
A Special Freshman
El Paso native Aaron Jones ranks second nationally among FBS freshmen, averaging 112 rushing yards per game, behind Arkansas’ Alex Collins (139.3 ypg). Jones and Collins are both true freshmen. Overall Jones is tied for 25th nationally in rushing average and ranks second in Conference USA behind Rice senior Charles Ross (132.0 ypg). In the season opener against New Mexico, Jones compiled the first 100-yard rushing game by a UTEP freshman since another El Pasoan, Matt Austin, ran for 112 yards at Kentucky on Sept. 7, 2002. His 127 yards versus UNM were the most-ever by a UTEP freshman in an opener and the fifth-most in an opener overall since 1950. It also marked the top rushing performance by a Miner freshman since Elzie Johnson compiled 203 yards against Tulsa on Nov. 16, 1996.
Jones is First Frosh to Score in First Two Games in 39 Years
Aaron Jones is the first freshman to score a touchdown in UTEP’s first two games of the season since Mike Belew had a rushing score versus Pacific and Utah to christen the 1974 campaign. He is the first freshman to lead UTEP in rushing in two games to open a season since Kevin Bogan in 1990. Bogan was also the Miners’ leading rusher in the third game of the 1990 campaign. Jones’ carries doubled from 11 in the opener to 22 at NM State in week two. He ran for 97 yards versus the Aggies.