VOL 1 ISSUE 25
SEPTEMBER 28, 2011
On Deck: The Maniac Named Meger 13 One Hall of a Player 15 The Quiet Leader Known as DK 16 The Final Word 21
MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL I ISSUE 25
I find it funny that when I re-read the From The Editor column from the last issue, I mentioned the roller coaster of emotions Miner Maniacs went through during the first two weeks of the season. I guess it’s funny because who would have predicted another two weeks of near insanity as a follow up. Yeah, I sure didn’t. Who would have guessed that an NMSU team that defeted Big-10 Minnesota would have the victory nullified because of a loss to UTEP in the oddest game I’ve seen in a while (fumble to fumble to fumble in the last two minutes). For that matter, who would have predicted a near shootout with USF this past weekend with UTEP beating the 26-point spread going into the 4th quarter. Again, I didn’t. But I guess that’s the beauty of the sport and why I’m addicted to college football and why I’m glued to my television set every Saturday morning from the minute I wake up till late at night when I’ve seen the 49-millionth repeat of highlights (many thanks to my wife for putting up with such things, although I do believe she is just as hooked as I am). I love the idea that I’m going to see something wild and crazy every weekend. There’s no doubt I get a full dose of it with UTEP football and there’s a little bit of me that loves it. Yeah I know, I’m a little crazy. It makes things a bit more fun. So as I sit here in my hotel room in Los Angeles, I will have to figure out where to watch this week’s contest against Houston Thursday night. Sadly, my training won’t be over soon enough for me to make it home for the game and I’m hoping to run into a fan of some sort in this vast city. There has to be someone else who is willing to ride the roller coaster of emotion that is UTEP football.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2011
a publication of Shamrock Media LLC CHRIS AVILA PRESIDENT and EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JEFF TAYLOR CHIEF PHOTOGRAPHER GUS CONTRERAS SAL GUERRERO ANGEL LUNA ALEX MORALES JOSH PUGA STAFF WRITERS DANNY LEVARIO DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS SUZETTE THOMPSON MAGAZINE DESIGN
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Cover photo: Miner quarterback Carson Meger (13) throws to a receiver during the second quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Photo: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
THE BIG PICK
South Florida Bulls def ensive end Ryne Giddins (right) tackles UTEP Miners running back Nathan Jeffery (left) during the second quarter of the UTEP-USF game at Raymond James Stadium. Photo: Douglas JonesUS PRESSWIRE
The Miner def ense had some crushing hits against New Mexico State. DeShawn Graysonâ€™s (1) hit was so hard, an NMSU playerâ€™s helmet was twisted around. Jeff Taylor
Yahchaaroah Lightbour ne (97) was one of serveral UTEP defenders who reached NMSU quarterback Andrew Manley (8), seen here causing a fumble. Jeff Taylor
UTEP Miners running back Leilyon Myers (right) is hit by South Florida Bulls def ensive back Jon Lejiste (8) during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Douglas JonesUS PRESSWIRE
Tight end Kevin Perry (82) celebrates a touchdown reception with running back Joe Banyard (21) and tight end Eric Tomlinson (87) during the third quarter against USF. Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE
1 0 Scouting Mine – Sept. 20, 2011 It seems that we are recruiting a lot of G/ Fs that can play multiple positions… but it is nice to know that we are getting a look from top talent across the country baballa31
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Would Cothran have 2 years of eligibility? Great stuff!
You’re right about the fight, Chris. That may be the best thing of all, and against not-as-good competition in Conference USA it could make a difference.
Twymond Howard commits to UTEP today.
Duke, without question Patterson has made tremendous adjustments with he defense for the second half. I don’t know what he does/says with the guys, but whatever it is it works. My only larger concern is why the defense isn’t ready like that in the first half. What happens if the D gives up too many points and the offense can’t come back? What happens then?
@ DFW Miner Yes, Cothran will have 2 years of eligibility. Angel Luna, MI Staff Writer So are we done recruiting? We only had 3 scholarships left right? Or, do we have an extra one since mitch marquis is not on the team… im a bit confused on where we stand. baballa31 Angel, thanks. Yahoo does have T Howard as a solid verbal. Nice catch by Coach Floyd and his staff. Looks like we beat out some ACC and Big East schools to land this kid. Nice story on Rivals about CTF. Getting excited about the future of UTEP Basketball. Scout.com article: http://scouthoops.scout.com/2/1108841. html DFW Miner Avila: Thoughts from the Notebook Astoundingly bad tackling in the first half, but again, great adjustments at halftime by Andre Patterson and Co. Certainly, having QB Nick Lamaison back along with Travaun Nixon in the defensive backfield will help, and I wonder if Houston is as physical (or as good) as USF. Still, thought it was positive to see UTEP hang in with a third-string QB until late in the game.
I don’t think Houston is as good as many might think. I think the win against UCLA gave a false sense of what the team can do. I didn’t think they were that impressive against North Texas and Louisiana Tech (they eeked out a onepoint victory there). I think UTEP has a legit chance to win this week, but it’s gonna be one of those games where everything has to fall into place. Chris Avila Great toughness this team shows, I love it!!!!! ALWAYS FORWARD NEVER QUIT!!! KiddMiner I’m surprised by your comment that Meger’s leadership has always been questioned. I’ve heard just the opposite and it was apparent in the USF game that he was the offensive leader of the team. Bob Hopper
finally showed he was able to shoulder a minimized offense with the trust to make some audible calls at times.
Prior to that, Meger had not really shown to coaches that he was able to run the offense and have the other players believe in what he was doing. We’ve seen a glimmer here and there of what he could do, but it was over shadowed by errors and the inability to be consistent. I think if he had really developed in a way that he needed, Mike Price may not have gone out to get Nick Lamaison as the starting quarterback. Price made it very well known that he was not happy with the progression of the quarterbacks last year and Meger was included in that evaluation. Perhaps Saturday’s game was his first true opportunity to show everyone that he did have the leadership abilities to guide this offense. I’m actually really happy for him and I hope he continues to work hard and gets the start this week against Houston. Chris Avila Facebook post: Good showing by UTEP, but they still lose 52-24. The Miners will take on Houston this Thursday in the Sun Bowl. The Miners played a great game, the score does not tell the story. That Joe Utepia is a poop and so is Brett Bloomquist. They tore the Miners apart, “no offense in the 2nd half” , what? The El Paso times should be banned from writing anything about the football team. Making fun of Carson who played like a 1st string QB against a team that is ranked 18, Joe and Brett should be used as tackle dummies! Pam Chatterson Craighead
@Bob: I don’t think that Meger’s leadership was in doubt on Saturday as he
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6-0 by the NUMBERS 17
Carson Meger’s 17 completions in the first half were the most by a UTEP quarterback in the first 30 minutes of a game since Trevor Vittatoe was 19-for-26 for 151 yards at the break on Nov. 3, 2007 at Rice. Meger finished 26-for-40 for 240 yards, all career highs.
Kevin Perry had five catches against South Florida, the first receptions by a Miner tight end since they combined for five in the opener versus Stony Brook. Perry scored his first career TD in the third quarter. UTEP tight ends have three touchdown catches in 2011 after having none all of last season. than 300 yards passing over the course of a season -- 1965 (342.6), 1967 (301.1), 2005 (300.6) and 2006 (312.8).
Vernon Frazier extended his string of games with a kickoff return of 40+ yards to four with a 67yard return in the first quarter. It surpasses his career long return of 50 yards set against Stony Brook in the season opener. Frazier finished with 177 yards on kickoff returns, tied for the fourth-top single game total in school history. It’s the most kickoff return yards by a UTEP player since Cedric Johnson compiled 181 at New Mexico in 1996.
As a team, UTEP had 251 kickoff return yards -- the fourth-most in school history and second-most of the Mike Price era (271 yards at Arkansas last season).
The Miners are 6-0 in Conference USA home openers with wins over Houston in 2005 (44-41 in double overtime), SMU in 2006 (24-21), Tulsa in 2007 (48-47), UCF in 2008 (58-13), Houston in 2009 (58-41) and Memphis in 2010 (16-13). The Miners have averaged 41.3 points in their C-USA home openers, topping 40 points four times and scoring 58 points in two of the last three years. Overall UTEP has averaged 35.2 points in 24 C-USA home games since 2005. The Miners have scored 30+ points 16 times and 40+ points on nine occasions during that span.
3 Leilyon Myers has scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games, with four total during that time period. He has 10 rushing TDs in 17 games for the Miners.
The Miners have had three different starting quarterbacks in four games this season. On Saturday at USF, it was sophomore Carson Meger’s turn to see significant action. Meger, who had thrown a total of four passes in his UTEP career entering the game, finished 26-of-40 for 240 yards with two TDs and three interceptions. Meger was 17-for-25 in the first 30 minutes, becoming the first Miner signalcaller with as many completions in an opening half since Trevor Vittatoe was 19-for-26 prior to the break at Rice in 2007. Overall Meger’s 26 completions were the most by a UTEP QB since Vittatoe was 30-for-54 at Houston last season. Meger joins Rocky Perez, Omar Duarte, Jordan Palmer and Vittatoe as the only Miner quarterbacks to throw 40 passes in a game since 2000.
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ON DECK: Why IThink Carson Meger Should StartThursday CHRIS AVILA
It’s never a dull moment when it comes to UTEP football and this week is no different from any other. In only four weeks of football, we’ve already seen fans hold their breath and then erupt in celebration when the Miners beat Stony Brook in overtime fashion to begin the season. Then, we saw a UTEP squad come out and give a SMU team who was supposed to wipe the table clean with UTEP get a run for their money AFTER starting quarterback Nick Lamaison was knocked out with a shoulder injury. One week later, we saw redshirt freshman Jay Hall somehow manage to make the hearts of Miner Nation almost come to a complete stop when he fumbled the ball away in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter against NMSU in the battle of I-10 only to have them restarted with a defensive fumble recovery thanks to a bone-crushing hit on Aggie quarterback Andrew Manley by Greg Watkins. Then we saw UTEP take on South Florida where the spread at one point was into the mid to high 30-point range and for some reason, they were able to hang in the game. It wasn’t a pretty game to watch in the least and I was pretty worried that if the craziness of the first quarter continued, there was no way that UTEP would stay in the game.
Yet, for some unexplainable reason, the guys hung in there. There was no quit and there was no giving up and rolling over to the nationally ranked Bulls. Even more impressive, I thought, was the fact that the offense didn’t give up. There may not have been the prettiest plays run nor the most methodical drives put together, but the one thing that did stand out was that Carson Meger showed to everyone why he should have been the starter against
the New Mexico State Aggies and not Jay Hall. Perhaps it was a coaching thing that Mike Price decided to go with Hall first and maybe he thought he would be able to do something positive. Hall didn’t play nearly as good as I thought he would in the City of Crosses and if Hall had been the starter in Florida, this might be a totally different column. But there was something about Meger that really made me think about this team. Perhaps the biggest difference from SMU to NMSU to USF was the demeanor of the players on
the sidelines. I hadn’t seen the guys fired up to play like I did this past Saturday when the camera cut away to the bench. It wasn’t hard to tell either that Meger looked like a quarterback who owned the situation: he acted like he was calm, cool and collected and that translated into confidence not only for him but for the whole team. With Houston coming to town and questions still surrounding the starting quarterback position, I don’t think it’s too hard of a decision from my standpoint that Lamaison needs to sit out and Meger needs to get the nod. I’d rather see Meger go into the game and play with the same gusto and confidence we saw against USF, get the rest of the guys to play balls out and steal a victory away from Houston than see a 85% healthy Lamaison go into the game and possibly get hurt for the rest of the season. Quite honestly, I think the consequences are much more grave when you think about Lamaison being out the rest of the season. At the end of the day, I think I can confidently say that having Meger or Lamaison under center would be okay because at the end of the day, I want to see UTEP eek out the win. Let’s just see if they can get things started with a home win Thursday night.
Sophomore Tess Hall strikes the ball during a penalty kick this season against Marshall. Thanks to Hallâ€™s goal, the Miners won, 1-0, against the Thundering Herd. Ivan Pier re Aguir re/UTEP Athletics
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HALL’S FOCUS IS ON TEAM,NOT HERSELF
GUS CONTRERAS A successful soccer team is not complete without a midfielder with field vision and the ability to create plays without space. Junior midfielder Tess Hall is UTEP’s solution to that. When Hall is on the field you can see her anticipating where the defense is going to play the ball, and on offense she is constantly looking for open players and looking to take a shot on goal. Hall such a uniqie player that he can attack a defense on multiple fronts. She is a threat on offense as she assists players moving forward, she floats to open spots on the field where her teammates can easily pass the ball to her so she can take advantage of a goal opportunity and she has a mean free kick that can scare any goalie when she is in range. Despite having all these assets, Hall deflects attention towards her and maintains a simple ideal: she is just looking to help her teammates find an opportunity to score. “The biggest goal for me is to create opportunities for the team because the role of a forward is to create opportunities and to finish,” Hall said. “For me, it’s about keeping the ball and to hold it so we can push up and attack as a unit. Then, it’s about finding those little through avenues for oncoming runners so they can get shots off.” Hall is an exceptional talent in the Miner’s midfield and her midfield partnership with sophomore Tori Martyn has to be considered one of the best in C-USA. Hall’s awareness and ball control are where plays start to happen with UTEP, and they usually end up with a chance at a goal. One of the benefits of having Hall in the midfield is UTEP’s offensive aggressiveness, and that clearly suits her playing style. “It’s fun, very fun,” Hall said about playing in such an offensive minded team. “(The team is) tremendous as well because if I didn’t anybody running off of me or supporting me there would be no way that we could attack as a team successfully. I think, just being able to find the ball from the midfielders and having them support me is awesome.” Since Hall’s freshman year with the Miners, she has had a major role in how the team executes plays and moves the ball forward. As a freshman, Hall played in 19 games and started 17 of them. UTEP relied on her ability to create scoring chances, with four of the assists being game winners. Hall came up big setting up a game-winning goal for Katie Dorman off a corner kick in the 79th minute on the road at Southern Miss. In Hall’s sophomore season, her play continued to
improve as she played in all 19 games, starting in 18 of them, and tied for the lead in assists on the team with seven. Hall’s seven assists were good enough to land her tied for second in Conference USA. Now in her third year on the team, Hall has continued to improve herself and consistently demonstrates why she is the offensive engine on this UTEP team. In the first game of the season against New Mexico State, Hall scored the two goals in a 2-0 win for the Miners and has played in a significant role in every contest. WIth the season still young, Hall’s continued success is nothing new to her. Hall grew up playing in southern California and was a starter since her freshman year in high school. During her high school years, she won awards for her offensive prowess and her hard work. “It was awesome playing in California, and southern California is known for having good soccer programs so having that available to me was awesome,” Hall said. “It really helped mold me into the player that I am today, and my family was huge too; I played with my dad after school like everyday growing up.” Gaining starting experience early in her career has to undoubtedly have had an effect in the way she reads the game now. Hall see’s the field in such a way that she can see spaces that most players cannot, and knows that her team and coaches expect a lot out of her. “I expect team effort, team play, I expect to work hard for the team because I know everyone of them is working as hard as they can for me,” Hall said. “ I want to return the favor, work hard for them, and put pressure up top to try and score.” Hall as impressive on the field as she is, is also a great student off the field. She is working on a pre-physical therapy degree, and knows the difficulty of being a successful student athlete. “It is really difficult and time management was something I had to learn coming into college,” Hall said. “ Classes are difficult, soccer practice, treatments, travelling, and having to organize all that so time management is a must. I think our team is good at supporting one another because we’ll talk if we’re stressed about a test or something, and we can help each other calm each other down.” The Miners would still be a solid team without Hall, but having her on the team takes them to a different level. Hall clearly has the ability to change the game with one single pass or the ability to score a goal by for herself. The Miners are in good hands for this season and for next with Hall directing the midfield.
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KEMP’S CLOUT: Senior Reciever Major
Influence onTeammates CHRIS AVILA It’s almost cliché to sit and write about an athlete’s leadership abilities “both on and off the field” mainly because it’s been done so many times before. From ESPN the Magazine stories to the weekly edition of Sports Illustrated, whenever there is a story about a player’s leadership qualities on a team, you are almost guaranteed to read some typical quote about how the athlete “puts it all out on the field” or they always lead by example. You almost couldn’t be a magazine without having at least one story like that from time to time. Donavan Kemp’s story might be similar in idea to a leadership feature like that. He is one of the captains of the team this year and there is no doubt he has taken his role in stride. Where the story differs in that he isn’t the prototype “star” player that leaders are often mistaken for (see LeBron James during the 2011 NBA Finals). Simply having people know who you are doesn’t make you a leader. Kemp is different. There are no comments from him that lead you to believe he is the driving factor of the offensive unit and that everything must go through him in order for the team to succeed. You won’t find Kemp even talking about himself as the “star player” of receiving corps because in his mind, he isn’t one. Instead, Kemp is a football player who comes across as confident, but not cocky. He is vocal, but not overbearing. He is focused on the task at hand, but knows when to relax and can crack up the tension with a quip or joke. He knows that in the most simplest of forms is just a cog in the machine that it the UTEP offense, yet he knows that he must execute his assignments with the utmost perfection. It should come as no surprise that Kemp has earned his spot while at UTEP and has accomplished this with a humble demeanor and a mentality that hard work now pays off in good time. As an incoming freshman, Kemp was not a highly touted recruit. The two-star athlete from De Soto, Texas came into the program with a learning curve that needed to be surmounted. It was his initial relationship with head coach Mike Price that convinced him he would develop the most if he came to UTEP and maintained the same work ethic he had in high school. “Coach Mike Price and the coaching staff - I loved the way they ran thing here (at UTEP),” Kemp said of his recruitment to UTEP. “They were very dependable coaches and there
weren’t a lot of coaches around the country who stood by their word like (Price) and I was really pleased with what he said.” Receivers coach Guy Holiday, who has helped develop Kemp over the last three seasons, said Kemp came into the program with raw talent that could be worked with. “It’s really interesting,” Holiday began. “He had great speed but I don’t think he understood all of the game. He had a great work ethic and was a track athlete playing football so he had to make that adjustment.” Kemp did not play when he first arrived at UTEP and was redshirted for the 2007 season. That time allowed him to learn the intricate Price offence as much as possible. His work on the scout team and time in the film room afforded Kemp time to absorb as much as possible while learning as many aspects of the game as possible. When Kemp finally did see some playing time as a redshirt freshman, he saw action in all 12 games during the 2008 campaign. Perhaps the highlight of the season was when he earned the starting nod against Houston, a big accomplishment at that point. Kemp went on to catch eight passes that season for a total of 142 yards. Kemp continued to work diligently and his sophomore season was better as he hauled in 12 catches that season for 284 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to his receiver position, Kemp found another niche on the team as he began returning kickoffs. During the 2009 season, Kemp returned 12 kickoffs for 254 yards. In fact, his niche as a kickoff return specialist led to the naming of him as special teams captain for his junior season. Unfortunately, during his junior campaign, Kemp was sidelined with an ACL tear against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Up until that point, Kemp had 18 receptions for 181 yards with two touchdowns and had started in all seven games. For Kemp, the injury was difficult to overcome at first. “What ran through my mind was that I just couldn’t believe it happened. It was my first big injury,” Kemp said. “I immediately knew it was going to be a long, long haul and I knew I was going to have to buckle down and continue to work hard to get my knee back to where I could play and keep going.” Modern medicine has made it possible for athletes to bounce back and resume playing from such severe injuries. That didn’t stop Kemp’s mind from racing with the
Continued on page 20
Senior Donovan Kemp hoisted the Brass Spittoon after the Miners def eated NMSU in the Battle of I-10 on September 17, 2011. Jeff Taylor
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Soccer: Junior Tess Hall has been selected as the Conference USA Women’s Soccer CoOffensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. Hall was involved in three of the four goals for UTEP, helping it open Conference USA play with a pair of wins over the weekend.
She calmly converted a penalty kick with a shot into upper 90’s country for the lone tally in a 1-0 triumph against Marshall on Sept. Hall was instrumental in the Miners’ 3-2 victory against East Carolina on Sept. 25. With the match tied (1-0) UTEP earned a free kick from the right wing. Hall played a perfect ball into the area, which was one-timed home by Azia Nicholson. Less than two minutes later, the Miners had another free kick. Hall sent a pass to Katie Dorman, who headed home the shot for the eventual game-winning goal. UTEP is now 8-2-1 on the year, including 5-0-1 over its past six matches. Photo: Michael P. Reese/UTEP Athletics
Volleyball: Sophomores Jeane Horton and Jacqueline Cason registered career-highs of 17 and 14 kills, respectively as the UTEP volleyball team (11-5, 1-1 C-USA) claimed its first Conference USA victory of the season over SMU (4-10, 0-2 C-USA) on Sunday at Memorial Gym. The Miners outlasted the Mustangs in five sets (20-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-27, 15-6). “Once we started putting pressure on the Mustangs, we were able to control their hitters,” head coach Ken Murphy said. “We know we have to continue getting better for us to keep moving forward against really good teams.” Sophomore Xitlali Herrera matched her career-high kills total hammering 18 against the Ponies and added a career-best 12 blocks (2s/10a) in the triumph. Junior Bridget Logan added 14 kills and sophomore Malia Patterson recorded a careerhigh 55 assists. Senior Stephanie Figueroa tallied a match-high 28 digs, while Marie-Therese Joyce was also in double figures with 13. SMU took an early lead in the first set with Jessica Oliver and Carla Armstrong posting four kills each. Oliver had a perfect hitting percentage (4-0-4) to help the Mustangs register a .357 average. UTEP fought back in the second stanza, with Herrera leading the way, striking six kills, three block assists and two digs. Cason followed closely behind with five kills and a .467 hitting percentage. The Miners kept the Mustangs to a .203 hitting percentage. The Miners continued the momentum into the third frame. A kill by Cassandra Burruel gave the Miners a 6-7 lead. UTEP never let go of the set as Logan posted four kills and a .381 hitting percentage. UTEP looked promising in the fourth set, as the Miners held advantages of 16-13, 18-15 and 22-21. An unlucky sequence ensued, however, with back-to-back Mustang kills to give SMU a 27-25 victory. UTEP took control early in the decisive set, as it led 6-0 and 12-4. UTEP sealed the match with a kill by Herrera to give the Miners a 15-6 victory over the Mustangs. The Miners begin a two-match road trip next weekend, taking on Marshall on Friday at 5 p.m. MT and ECU on Sunday at 12 p.m. MT. Photo: Jeff Taylor
2 0 possibilities that he might not be able to come back. “When I first injured my knee, I was worried,” Kemp said. “But seeing a lot of other people in the NFL and in college, including my roommate Vernon Frazier who has torn their ACL and came back and has been really good, that gave me a lot of motivation that it wasn’t impossible to come back and that it could be done.” Kemp took it to heart to do everything he needed to do to get back to the team so that he could contribute. Ironically, for quite sometime during the spring drills earlier this year and into the summer, that meant he had to let his knee rest. That did not mean he loafed around and didn’t participate in some form or fashion. Every day during spring practice, he could be seen trolling the sidelines with Holiday working with teammates to make sure they were working through drills correctly, that they understood plays and helped correct errors that his fellow receivers were making. It made a potentially frustrating time away from the game into an opportunity to remain a cog in the system, albeit in a different form. “I think in order to have the right to tell players what to do, you have to have done it yourself so that a player respects you,” Holiday said. “Obviously, everything that Kemp preached on the field when he was out here, he was doing. He spent a lot of time making 200-300 catches a day and even when
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he was hurt, he spent a lot of time studying film, asking questions, asked questions about defenses all so that he could be a better player.” “When he came back this year and walked out onto the field, whether it was a redshirt freshman, a sophomore or junior, they listened because you have to respect someone who puts in that much work.” So far, his attitude and work ethic has paid off. Through four games, Kemp has 12 catches for 225 yards and one touchdown in a season that has seen 13 different receivers. It is no surprise then that Kemp, in the eyes of Holiday, could come back from such an injury and produce as quickly. “I thought that if he could comeback from the injury, and you just never know with an ACL, but if anybody could do it that quickly, it was Donavon,” Holiday said. “He was relentless at working to get back. It really wasn’t unexpected.” In addition to getting back to form, Kemp was named one of the offensive captains by his peers and Holiday knew that he had earned the respect of the team through his actions. “In order to be a captain, you have to be respected on and off the field. He’s first class off the field. He practices what he preaches, so it just makes it an easy transition (to captain) for him.” Holiday continued, “I think (they players) look at him as a leader. As a matter of fact, I know they do. When he speaks, they listen. He
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doesn’t B.S. around in the meetings and occasionally he’ll cut up like any receiver, but for the most part he is serious and takes things seriously. He knows when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to get to work.” With the Conference USA home opener against Houston Thursday night in the Sun Bowl, Kemp is squarely focused on what the team, not himself necessarily, needs to do to put them selves in the best position possibly to win. For that matter, Kemp rarely addresses individual goals but the readiness of every player on the team. “I feel that as a leader, I am here to help guys with things on and off the field,” Kemp said. “I help them with their plays and things on the field … my job is to make sure they know what they are doing, know the plays and know the coverage from the defense. If they need anything off the field, they know I’m here and I’m always around to help.” And just like that, with a simple response and a direct answer, Donavan Kemp has found a way to be a major influence on this year’s team without mincing his words or in a flashy way that would draw attention to him. There is no question that he is a leader of the team and over the years, he has created a leadership method that is subtle yet focused, calm but not passive and at the end of the day, he knows that every cog is just as important as the next.
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THE FINAL WORD: Eight GamesTo Go And Still Plenty Of Fight Left JOSH PUGA Here we go again. “Let the downslide begin.” “I told you the Miners can’t compete with the big boys.” Ok, I get it and I have heard it all and then some. Sure when you pick up the paper and look at a box score that reads USF 52 UTEP 24 you would be right to think that was an ugly loss. Most fans, including myself felt UTEP would lose in a blowout and I can’t argue the final score seems to reflect the obvious. But, for those fans that didn’t watch the game the score was not indicative of the way the Miners played Saturday night. Playing once again without starters Nick Lamaison, Travaun Nixon and Germard Reed, UTEP gave the Bulls all they could handle trailing 38-24 early in the fourth quarter before third-string quarterback Carson Meger’s third interception essentially ended the Miners hope at a colossal upset. Wait; did you just say Carson Meger? Yes, I did and while it wasn’t shocking Meger was called into action after Jay Hall’s dismal performance in UTEP’s 16-10 win over New Mexico State, it was still somewhat surprising coming off a win. Even more surprising was the play of the sophomore quarterback who finished the game with 240 yards passing completing 24 of 40 passes and two touchdowns. He did have three interceptions, two were not Meger’s fault, but the third and last pick sealed the Miners fate. I understand Coach Mike Price doesn’t believe in moral victories and while the team is naturally disappointed with any loss this game showed that these Miners will not back down from any team they
face from this point forward. After trailing 21-7 with USF just dominating the Miner defense, the team could have laid an egg and no one would have blamed them. Instead of sulking and letting the Bulls take control of the game Meger comes in and marches the Miners down the field 88 yards finding Anthony McGee in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 21-14 early in the second quarter. After going down 31-17 at the half, UTEP once again has an opportunity to pack it in and start thinking about the flight home to El Paso, especially the defense which struggled mightily in the
mistakes, whether it was a missed field goal, missed tackles, untimely penalties or turnovers; those blunders really hurt the team’s chances to make history. Ultimately though the more talented team won and while fans might want to harp on the “what ifs”, I can honestly say this was a moral victory. No doubt Price and his team wanted to win and I know they felt they could have won the game. For a couple moments there in the fourth quarter I was almost convinced they could pull it off. Sure no one likes losing and 2-2 isn’t great, but it isn’t too bad either. Personally, they are right where I thought they would be at this point in the season. Still a lot of season left and for all intensive purposes the Miners are starting a new season at 0-0 with the Houston game coming up in the Sun Bowl. Eight games remaining on the schedule and plenty of football left to be played. After seeing UTEP fight and claw the way I did against USF there is a more than realistic chance that the Miners can upset the Cougars at home prior to the open date allowing the team to get healthier before two winnable games at Tulane and home against Colorado State. 5-2 is not out of the realm of possibility. Winning three games in a row with all the injuries might be a tall task for this team, but they haven’t backed down yet and they are not making excuses. If Price and his staff can find away to get both the offense and defense playing at a high level for 60 minutes things are going to get really interesting. It all starts Thursday night at the Sun Bowl and I have a feeling Miner fans might want to make plans.
Winning three games in a row with all the injuries might be a tall task for this team, but they haven’t backed down yet and they are not making excuses. first 30 minutes of the game. So what does the defense proceed to do after giving up 371 yards of total offense in the first half to USF? Back to back three and outs to start the second half and forcing USF to punt 4 times (all in the second half) slowing down the high-powered Bulls’ offense to only 14 points in the second half. I know what people are thinking anytime a defense gives up 373 rushing it is nearly impossible to win any game, but after the half the defense stepped up again after the half and made USF earn every single one of the 204 yards of offense in the second half. There is no denying the Miners made
TOUCHDOWN MINERS! Jeff Taylor
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