Oxford, Mississippi is squarely in the sights of the Miners now after a hard fought and very tough loss to No. 5 (AP) Oklahoma. Fans saw UTEP fight valiantly for the first half and into the third quarter but it was in the second half of Saturday's game was where the game slipped away from the Miners.
Despite the mistakes (fake punt and missed field goals), there is still something we can discuss especially something that is often overlooked when it comes to offensive and defensive stats, time of possession.
If the Miners are to compete and win games this year, they will need more ball possession like they had in the first half against the Sooners than what they showed in the second.
In the first quarter, the Miners won the battle 8:24 to 6:36. The second quarter was almost the same, with UTEP holding to ball for 8:04, to the Sooners 6:56.
The second half, unfortunately, was a different story all together as Oklahoma reversed roles in the third quarter. The Sooners held the for ball 8:49 to the Miners 6:11 and too be honest, the fourth quarter was a product of knowing the loss was inevitable as the game slipped away from UTEP. Oklahoma had the ball for 9:16 minutes to the Miners 5:44, so you need to throw that quarter out.
The second half disparity needs to change if the Miners expect to make some noise in Oxford and come out with a win.
When you have the ball you need to put points on the board and that was also a big problem Saturday. The Miners need to solve that quickly but you also have to look at it like this: if you don't have the ball or if you have the ball and can't move it toward the end zone, it's just as bad.
After Nathan Jeffery went down with an injury in the second half, the Miners seemingly lost all of their offense without him. That is the time when someone else needs to step up and fill his shoes. Evidently, the line was giving him the space to run so why did the space to run all of the sudden disappear?
Nick Lamaison also needs to improve this week. He was 6-23 for 39 yards. There were big drops on a couple passes but over all, Lamaison can not continue to put these numbers up. UTEP cannot afford to have a deficiency on offence that is this big. This is too tough to over come for any team.
On the defensive side of the ball, it is crucial the effort shown on Saturday night continues. The Miners sacked Landry Jones three time for nineteen yards lost. Anytime you can apply that type of pressure it works to your favor and will again this Saturday if the same effort is given.
Were there missed field goals? Was there a call for a fake punt that was sniffed out? Did players get banged up during the game?
All of these questions can be answered with one resounding answer: yes.
The thing is, you control your own destiny and you decide your own fate.
If the Miners are going to become the team we know they can be, they need to make their own destiny and take fate into there own hands. That starts with better ball possession and an offense that takes advantage of their situation and puts points on the board.
Chad Middleton, also the producer for KROD's SportsTalk, can be reached at [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter at @600chadESPN. Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.