The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: UTEP


Does anyone else have any superstitions? For me, every week I have an Alabama flag and a Red Raider flag that I put out in front of the house on gamedays. That in itself is not superstitious but depending on how either team is playing will determine which flag I fly next week. Generally, I fly the red double T to start off the season, if they are playing good, I let it ride. If they are struggling, I switch it up and change to the black double T or the double T Texas flag. I know it doesn’t help, but I feel like I’m doing my part in helping Tech get the W. So far, though it hasn’t been pretty, they’ve done just that.

The Good:

For the first time since 2010, a Red Raider RB broke off a run of over 70 yards, as Justin Stockton took the first play of the 2nd quarter and raced around the left tackle to the end zone. His 75 yard run was the longest run by a Red Raider since the 2010 Ticket City Bowl and helped the Red Raider offense pile up 226 yards rushing on the day. We had heard from coaches that Stockton’s speed would play a major factor in him seeing playing time this season and Tech fans are already seeing why, as through his first 2 games he has rushed for a team high 177 yards and 2 touchdowns and has averaged 7 more yards per carry than any other Red Raider running back. Justin Stockton is the first Red Raider freshman RB to rush for over 100 yards since 2002 when Taurean Henderson had 141 yards in an OT loss to NC State.

For the first time this season, we saw what the offense and defense could do when faced with adversity. UTEP isn’t one of the biggest stadiums in the country, but it’s bowl-like atmosphere make for one of the loudest experiences players can feel in a 50,000 seat stadium. Trailing 26-23 late in the 4th quarter, the offense took the field and did exactly what we had hoped they would do. Davis Webb looked calm in the pocket, Justin Stockton got a couple of huge running plays, and senior Bradley Marquez capped off the rally with his 3rd touchdown of the day to give Tech a 30-26 lead with 3 minutes remaining. That wouldn’t be the end of the adversity the Red Raiders had to face Saturday night, as UTEP set up shop inside the Tech 40 yard line following a facemask and a big return on special teams. The defense held without allowing a first down for the Miners and allowed Davis Webb to kneel down for the 2nd Red Raider victory of the season.

For all the talk about how bad Tech has been at stopping the run, you can easily make the argument that Tech’s defense is the reason Tech won the game Saturday night. On a night when you only scored on 5 of your 12 offensive possessions and ran the fewest amount of plays in a win since the 2008 Nebraska game, the Tech defense forced 7 stops of their own to go along with forcing two FG’s deep in Red Raider territory that proved to be the difference. Yes, they gave up 393 yards and the Miners averaged 5 yards a rush, but you held UTEP QB Jameill Showers to 9-26 passing on the day and for the second straight week they held the opposing offense to less than 40% on 3rd down.

The Bad:

For the 2nd straight game the Red Raiders came out sluggish offensively, and found themselves trailing because of it. You certainly don’t want to start out every game in the Big 12 trailing, and you have to hope that Kliff and co. will figure out a way to get the nerves out sooner.

For the 2nd straight game, Red Raider fans went into the week feeling as if they should easily dominate the opponent, and watched in agony as the opponents hung around and even took the lead late in the game. El Paso has never been an easy place to play for Tech, so it was nice to see them fight through the adversity of trailing with minutes to go to take a lead. The last two times the Red Raiders have left El Paso, they’ve left with a win by the skin of their teeth.

The Ugly:

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For the seventh straight game dating back to the 2013 season, the Red Raiders piled up more than 8 penalties in a game. It culminated in the 3rd quarter after the defense was running off the field after forcing their 3rd straight punt of the 2nd half. The Red Raider special teams was flagged for having two men with the same jersey number on, and before UTEP could try to convert the 4th down the Red Raider coaches were flagged for being in an area they shouldn’t have. The reason this is scary is because you heard all week from players and coaches about how embarrassed they were after the UCA game and about how they were going to fix these issues.

The Red Raiders again lost the turnover battle, but more important that just losing it was the fact that they again failed to record a TO defensively at all. If the Red Raider defense can’t create turnovers, you are asking them to play near perfectly in order to get stops, and that is going to come back to haunt them sooner than later.