UTEP vs. UTSA: Numbers Don’t Add Up to Anything But a Headache
The numbers around football programs like UTEP are often comparable to fluorescent lighting.
Harsh, unforgiving and a ready-made headache.
Like fluorescent bulbs, there isn’t a whole lot anyone can do about them. It’s no one’s “fault”, really. They’re just there.
So, if you read the numbers from UTSA’s 26-16 win over the Miners and feel the need to take off your glasses, close your eyes tight and pinch the bridge of your nose like it was 3 p.m. on a Monday under the office lights…
But numbers don’t change, they hang on like the one bulb in the copy room that’s been flickering for eight years.
We’ll start with the rushing stats: UTSA 320, UTEP 99.
If you started to squint and shade your eyes as you asked if these were the teams that both came into this game with 1-3 records, questionable quarterbacking and sport nearly identical colors and hand signs, I would nod sympathetically.
But in a football game that screamed dead-even from the bleachers to the bookies, "Ootsa" blew the Miners off their own turf.
The Roadrunners’ brilliantly-named Sincere McCormick rushed 22 times for 189 yards. Sophomore quarterback Lowell Narcisse had only 46 yards passing, but had 115 yards rushing.
It’s only the second time in the short history of UTSA football the 'Runners have had two players go over 100 yards rushing in a game.
I find shutting the eyes and massaging the temples to be soothing.
The Miners gave up four sacks on the night but got to Narcisse just once.
Silver lining: that’s actually not horrid for the UTEP defense. Narcisse only passed the ball 14 times.
There was that one play, though. UTSA’s opening drive of the second half. The Roadrunners had just been flagged for a false start and third-and-nine had become third-and-14.
Narcisse lowered his head –– a designed run –– and went STRAIGHT UP THE MIDDLE for 18 yards and a first down.
STRAIGHT UP THE MIDDLE. ON PURPOSE.
Try decorating your cubicle with vivid but muted colors. No bright pastels, but maybe dark picture frames and small pieces of art…
Narcisse did almost the same thing in the fourth quarter on a third-and-eight. Right up the gut. Fourteen yards.
…and plants can be a wonderful touch.
Here’s a number: 13,876.
Greater than UTSA's rushing totals but less than the opening night crowd of 34,646.
Greater than the 10,493 in attendance for Nevada, but hey, it was homecoming.
Honestly, I feel for Director of Athletics Jim Senter, and for head coach Dana Dimel. Getting people’s attention these days is hard. Keeping it is even harder.
Senter and his staff have bent over backward to change things. New tailgating rules, offering a student tailgate, new party areas to utilize the big spaces in the expansive Sun Bowl.
But it all only meant something when El Paso got its tickets free.
Likewise, Dimel is changing the character of UTEP Football from the inside out.
Nevada was a worse crowd but a better game, and the Miners had looked competitive at Southern Miss, too. That said, Saturday was a step backward on both sides of the ball.
STRAIGHT UP THE MIDDLE.
Offensively, Brandon Jones replaced starting QB Kai Locksley in the third quarter and threw for 140 yards and a touchdown in less than a half.
Locksley, the more mobile quarterback, was sacked three times to Jones’ one.
Numbers might shine a harsh light, but that makes them revealing and truthful, and unforgivingly so.
Don’t forget: there's always ibuprofen.