Analyzing the Enemy: UTEP Miners (10/7/17)

Hannah Page, Editor
Inside Hilltopper Sports

Day: Saturday, October 7

Time: 7:00PM CST

Location: Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX

Network: CUSA.TV

Series Record: WKU leads 1-0. In their last meeting (2014), WKU won 35-27.

Betting Line: WKU by 17.5 via ESPN.com (as of 10/5/17)


Position Group Predictions

Quarterbacks

Mike White vs. Zack Greenlee

Mike White

Zack Greenlee (through three games)

Pass attempts per game

38.25

12.6

Completions per game

25.25

7.6

Completion %

66.0

60.5

Passing yards per game

261.75

74.3

Average passer rating

123.9

121.9

Yards per pass attempt

6.84

5.87

Passing touchdowns per game

0.5

0.66

Rushing touchdowns per game

0.5

0

Interceptions thrown per game

0.75

0.33

Against Ball State, White was 28-44 for 319 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. The 2 interceptions were rather uncharacteristic for White, but nothing to worry about.

Zack Greenlee steps up after Ryan Metz sustained a shoulder injury. Greenlee has seen action in 3 of the 5 Miners' games.

UTEP's passing defense has allowed 11 touchdowns, 9.2 yards per pass attempt, and 233 passing yards per game. WKU's passing defense has allowed 3 touchdowns, 6.8 yards per pass attempt, and 250 passing yards per game.

Advantage: WKU

Running Backs

WKU vs. UTEP Running Backs

WKU

UTEP

Rushing attempts per game

31.75

26.4

Rushing yards per game

74.75

80.6

Yards per rush attempt

2.4

3.1

Rushing TDs per game

2.25

1.0

With pesky injuries keeping or limiting D'Andre Ferby and Quinton Baker from playing time, Jakairi Moses and Marquez Trigg have stepped up. Moses has had two, back-to-back, solid performances. Against LATech, Moses had 1 rushing attempt for 19 yards and 1 touchdown. Against Ball State, Moses ran 56 yards for 1 touchdown. He has been averaging 5.8 yards per rush attempt: leading the team in this statistic. Trigg posted 27 yards and 1 touchdown against Ball State.

Quardraiz Wadley will lead the Miners' run game. The sophomore did not play in the first three games, however, came out swinging against New Mexico State and Army. Through two games, Wadley has accumulated 233 yards, 5.0 yards per rush attempt, and 1 touchdown. He adds production and explosion that the team so desperately needs.

UTEP's rushing defense is one of the worst in the nation: allowing 268.8 rushing yards per game, 5.8 yards per rush attempt, and 19 touchdowns. By contrast, WKU's rushing defense (#19), has allowed 111.8 rushing yards per game, 3.4 yards per rush attempt, and 5 touchdowns.

There is no doubt that Wadley is talented and looks promising, but I believe that WKU's rushing defense will limit him. UTEP's weak rushing defense will allow WKU's run game to develop a bit more.

Advantage: WKU

Receivers

WKU Receiving Stats

Rec./Average # Rec. per game

Yards/Yards per game

TDs/Average

Long

Average per rec.

Lucky Jackson

20/5.0

253/63.25

1/0.25

66

12.7

Nacarius Fant

21/5.25

197/49.25

0

23

9.4

Xavier Lane (3 games)

12/4.0

157/52.3

0

25

13.1

Deon Yelder

14/3.5

149/37.25

1/0.25

27

10.6

UTEP Receiving Stats

Rec./Average # Rec. per game

Yards/Yards per game

TDs/Average

Long

Average per rec.

Tyler Batson

12/2.4

150/30.0

1/0.2

26

12.5

Terry Juniel

8/1.6

108/21.6

0

40

13.5

David Lucero

11/2.2

102/20.4

1/0.2

18

9.3

Kavika Johnson

8/1.6

84/16.8

0

40

10.5

Neither WKU nor UTEP have seen an extremely explosive receiving corps, thus far. However, it is not to say that the teams are without talent.

The Hilltoppers are led by Lucky Jackson and Nacarius Fant. Both Jackson and Fant have seen at least one 100+ yard game. Jackson hauled in 144 receiving yards against EKU and Fant posted 110 receiving yards against Illinois. WKU has, also, seen significantly more production from its tight ends than from 2016. Deon Yelder has been an especially dependable and steady force: 14 receptions, 18 targets, 149 receiving yards, about 12 receiving yards per reception, and 1 touchdown.

UTEP's Tyler Batson will be a key target along with tight end David Lucero. Against Army, Batson saw his best game of 5 receptions for 80 yards and averaged 16 yards per reception. Also against Army, Lucero was able to post his first touchdown.

Of course, the quarterback plays into the receiving game. Mike White is a proven asset and one of the best in the nation. Greenlee has a weight on his shoulders and might not have the same chemistry between himself and the receivers as White and his receivers. In addition, UTEP’s secondary is allowing a 174.13 passer rating.

Advantage: WKU

Offensive Line

WKU's offensive line was not that much better against Ball State. Through four games, the offensive line has been a problem. Against Ball State, WKU allowed 4 sacks on White: bringing the season total up to 13. Overall, the o-line has left White vulnerable and rushed. They are still committing some inexcusable mistakes and penalties that push the offense out of the redzone and/or impact the momentum of the drive. The bye-week should have given them time to address any issues.

UTEP boasts a veteran offensive line that includes one of the best offensive lineman: Will Hernandez. Ruben Guerra filled in at right tackle last week and had the best game grade among all of C-USA right tackles according to Pro Football Focus.

Advantage: UTEP

Linebackers

WKU Linebacker Stats

Total Tackles (Solo/Assist)

Sacks

PD

HU

INT

Joel Iyiegbuniwe

33 (17/16)

0.5

0

0

0

Masai Whyte

22 (12/10)

0

1

0

0

DeAngelo Malone

13 (5/8)

0.5

0

0

0

Daeshawn Bertram

9 (2/7)

0

0

0

0

Ben Holt

4 (2/2)

0

0

0

0

Demetrius Cain

1 (1/0)

0

1

1

0

Kyle Bailey

3 (1/2)

0

0

0

0

Der'Quione Mobley

2 (0/2)

0

0

0

0

Total

87

1.0

2.0

1.0

0

UTEP Linebacker Stats

Total Tackles (Solo/Assist)

Sacks 

PD

HU

INT

Alvin Jones

39 (16/23)

1.0

0

2

0

Dante Lovilotte

33 (11/22)

1.0

1

1

0

Treyvon Hughes

26 (9/17)

0

0

1

0

Julian Jackson

19 (3/16)

0

1

0

0

Jamar Smith

18 (13/5)

0

0

0

0

Dylan Parsee

13 (3/10)

0

0

1

0

Chris Barnwell

12 (4/8)

0

0

0

0

Kalaii Griffin

11 (4/7)

0

0

0

0

Lawrence Montegut

11 (5/6)

0

0

0

0

Johnny Jones

6 (3/3)

0

0

0

0

Jayson VanHook

1 (1/0)

0

0

0

0

Total

189

2.0

2

5

0

...same as usual; I could not fit ever statistical category into the Yahoo Rivals table template, so I stuck to those most applicable to the linebackers.

UTEP implements a 3-4 defense. This is why UTEP's linebackers have drastically different numbers than WKU. For anyone that does not understand...UTEP will utilize 3 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers. The responsibility of the d-line is to hold blockers so the linebackers have lanes to run through and make plays. In a 3-4, d-linemen are usually monsters and big heavy weights. This will be WKU's first time facing a 3-4.

This is not to say that WKU's linebackers are bad, because they are not. Joel Iyiegbuniwe and Masai Whyte are solid. However, because WKU has not faced a 3-4, in addition to an inconsistent rushing attack...

Advantage: Tie

Secondary

WKU Secondary Stats

Total Tackles (Solo/Assist)

INT

PD

Devon Key

32 (15/17)

0

1

Joe Brown

17 (12/5)

2

2

Drell Green

17 (8/9)

1

0

Leverick Johnson

12 (8/4)

0

1

DeAndre Farris

10 (7/3)

0

7

Ta'Corian Darden

9 (8/1)

0

0

Antwon Kincade

9 (4/5)

1

0

Juwan Gardner

7 (3/4)

0

1

Roger Cray

6 (4/2)

0

2

Marcus Ward

4 (3/1)

0

0

Total

123

4

14

UTEP Secondary Stats

Total Tackles (Solo/Assist)

INT

PD

Devin Cockrell

30 (16/14)

0

2

Kalon Beverly

23 (10/13)

0

2

Nik Needham

21 (5/16)

0

1

Michael Lewis

20 (6/14)

0

1

Justin Rogers

15 (11/4)

1

0

Kahani Smith

10 (5/5)

1

0

Jerrell Brown

8 (4/4)

0

0

Adrain Hynson

5 (5/0)

0

0

Jesse Montgomery

4 (3/1)

0

0

Joseph Pickney

2 (2/0)

0

0

Khalil Rashaad-Brown

1 (1/0)

0

0

Total

139

2

6

...again, I could not fit ever statistical category into the Yahoo Rivals table template. If you are looking at sheer numbers, do not forget that UTEP has played 1 more game than WKU.

The Hilltoppers have found absolute playmakers in the secondary (i.e., Devon Key, Joe Brown, Drell Green, and DeAndre Farris). Corner Joe Brown has come up with interceptions in back-to-back games (LATech and Ball State). Corner DeAndre Farris had 4 pass deflections against Ball State. Safety Drell Green, also, had an interception against Ball State. Each and every week WKU's secondary improves.

Again, I reiterate that UTEP's secondary is allowing a 174.13 passer rating: good news for Mike White. Once [if] WKU's passing game gets some momentum, UTEP's secondary may wear out.

Advantage: WKU

Defensive Line

WKU's Chris Johnson & Co. will face a veteran UTEP offensive line - consisting of the likes of Will Hernandez - but it is a task that the Hilltopper defensive line can handle. They have proven game after game that they can limit even strong rushing attacks. Again, WKU's rushing defense (#19), has allowed 111.8 rushing yards per game, 3.4 yards per rush attempt, and 5 touchdowns. And again, UTEP's young defensive line is very young and pretty weak.


What to expect on Saturday

No matter which way you spin it, things are not looking good for the Miners. They lost their head coach after going 0-5, their allowing 45.2 points per game, and their starting quarterback is injured. Ex-head coach Mike Price stepped in as interim coach this past week, and it would be safe to say that he has not changed the entire playbook. But there is no telling where the Miners are mentally. They have nothing to lose (ok, maybe another game, but you get my point). Of course, to be cliche, they will play with a chip on their shoulder.

WKU has been chomping at the bit to execute a clean, dominant win. Their two wins have not been pretty, so far. After a bye-week, the Hilltoppers could be well-rested and ready to put up big numbers. Look for WKU to start off the game fast.

Prediction

1st half: 24-14

2nd half: 17-7

WKU wins 41-21

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