VOL 1 ISSUE 23
AUGUST 31, 2011
On Deck: College Football’s Must See Games 8 Lieberwirth Takes Over Golf 10 Springer’s Ready to Lead 12 The Final Word 17
MINER ILLUSTRATED VOL I ISSUE 23
If you were to ask my wife about the most important things in my life, she would probably return with a question. “Have you seen the movies Rudy and Fever Pitch? If you have, then you probably have a good idea about the kind of fan Chris is when it comes to UTEP and Notre Dame.” She kids me about it all the time and I make no excuse for being one of the biggest fanatics when I get to talking about ND and the Miners. I grew up with them. They were the only to schools I ever had an interest in and they are the only two schools that I’ve ever given money to. I love the Miners and the Irish. That said, there is always a part of me that get’s uncomfortable about change and it usually takes a bit to get used to. I was devastated when Lou Holtz stepped down as football coach of the Irish and I cried like a baby when I heard Don Haskins had passed. I knew things were going to have to change and I knew I wasn’t going to like it. But with change comes opportunity and that is the case with our two feature stories this issue. Staff writer Gus Contreras over the last month has put together one story about an entire program beginning anew as recently named golf coach Scott Lieberwirth begins his tenure with UTEP and looks to get the program back to it’s winning ways. In Gus’ second story, he writes about Jeremy Springer and talks about how his change from quarterback to linebacker has not only helped him, but the change has resulted in Springer becoming a team leader. As always, Josh Puga brings an interesting perspective in the Final Word and we begin our newest column called On Deck. Sal Guerrero breaks down the most interesting games of the season in the column. Finally, it is with much sadness that two members of the Miner Illustrated family are leaving. UTEP66 is hanging up his pen so that he can sit back and enjoy the view from the seats while editor-in-chief Rebecca Frazier is stepping away to focus on family. I can’t tell you how much I will miss them both, but change is inevitable. In the meantime, make sure to get your tailgate gear ready and don’t forget the new MI Pick Axe Car Flag! Get it online or this Saturday at King’s X when I’m on Crunchtime with Mando “The Monster” Medina at 11:30 (see the ad on the final page). It’s time for football season!
AUGUST 31, 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
Letters to the editor, general feedback and advertising inquiries: email@example.com
Cover photo: UTEP senior Jeremy Springer trolls the field in this photo taken during the 2009 season in the game against Kansas in the Sun Bowl. Photo: UTEP Athletics
THE BIG PICK
The volleyball team got the season started this past weekend firing on all cylendars as UTEP went 4-0 to win the El Paso Sports Commision Invitatioinal. Not everything was perf ect as Xitlali Herrera (left) and Jacqueline Cason (right) just missed the block. Jeff Taylor
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
Miner Illustrated Magazine: Vol. 1 Issue 22 Great job with the mag guys. Keep up the good work. Anthony Salom Very good work Gentlemen. I have been waiting quite awhile for the story on Horace Miller and Miner Illustrated delivered. Keep it up. Thanks GO MINERS!!! KiddMiner Once again excellent work!! Love the Mag!! baballa31 Let me begin by giving you the amount of gratitude and praise that is needed for the best magazine of the year. I have stated before in previous comments and postings of my temporary status here in the El Paso area. Miner Illustrated has been a constant source for positive information and rumors surrounding the UTEP athletic program. This issue is by far the most informative and lengthiest issue yet. Great job and can’t wait for the upcoming season. I have already convinced multiple soldiers in my unit to attend the games and tailgating venues. Thanks for all that you and the staff do, and keep up the great work! john79924
Practice Recap: Miners Appear Sluggish As Season Opener Nears This is not good news at all. There are a limited amount of practices a team can have in a season and it seems like they are not using what little preparation time they have wisely. My old high school football coach used to say “Perfect practice, makes a perfect team”. I know these guys are capable of playing well, its just a matter of “want to” that will uncap their potential. One area of concern is the pass rush, it is still anemic and a lack of
pressure on the QB will always put serious stress on the secondary, I hope Horace Miller can be that special pass rusher that UTEP has lacked for many years.
you check out Josh Puga’s Final Word in this edition to get our take on the situation and why Puga think’s the o-line is going to be so important this season.
I am really hoping these guys pick it up, because I want them to win and succeed. And guys, please don’t push aside your class work and studies.
Football Predictions: Games 7-12
Miner Niner Well put in regards to the pass rush relieving the secondary of their duties from time to time. I have confidence when predicting a bowl invitation for the Miners this year. Patterson will undoubtedly do his best with what he has to work with. Miller will definitely be an added strength in terms of the pass rush, can’t wait to Saturday! john79924
Drills Help Establish Consistency for Receivers As this comment does not pertain to the story above, it is however about the two current injuries surrounding the mock game. I read that James Nelson will be out for a few weeks. This is in addition to the backup linebacker Alexius who was also assisted off of the field. Question: How good are the reserve players as far as the O line is concerned? The linebacker position seems to be overloaded which will not be hurt by this (Alexius) due to depth. So once again how big of a concern is this for the offensive unit? Anyone? john79924 That’s a great question John. Make sure
I don’t know but the articles you’ve written and some of the commentary regarding Lamaison has been very positive. The guy comes off as a gamer and I think UTEP will be on the better side of bowl eligibility this season. I’m thinking Lamaison’s craftiness and mental toughness gives us the a good chance of winning more “winnable” games. My vote is 7-5. I’m drinking the Orange Kool-Aid! Danny Levario
We’ve been saying for a while that we would give something out to responses that wowed us and we just wanna say thanks to “john79924” for the quality of comments and the sheer volume. So, for all of your continued support, Miner Illustrated is going to send you the very first MI Pick Axe flag! For everyone else who would like one, make sure to check out the MI Online Store to get yours or stop by Saturday at Kings X (4119 N. Mesa) from 11:30 - 1 when Chris is on the air with Mondo “The Monster” Medina on KROD’s Crunchtime. Flags will be $15 each and Chris will be able to take cash or credit. Keep those comments comming in!
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
42 by the NUMBERS 4-0
The Miners are 4-0 versus FCS opponents during the Mike Price era. These games include a 32-0 win over Weber State in 2004, 45-0 win over Texas Southern in 2005, 52-12 win over Texas Southern in 2007, 31-10 win over ArkansasPine Bluff in 2010. UTEP has outscored the four FCS opponents 160-22 and averaged 469.8 yards of offense to foes’ 205.0. The Miners have averaged 219.5 yards rushing per game. Stony Brook has two games scheduled versus FBS opponents this season, including playing at Buffalo on Sept. 10. Last year the Seawolves played at USF on Sept. 4. They were tied with the Bulls at 14 through one quarter and trailed 24-14 with less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half before being outscored 35-0 the rest of the way in a 59-14 setback. The Miners are opening a season versus a school from the state of New York for the third time in four years after kicking off the 2008 and 2009 campaigns versus Buffalo.
UTEP’s record in September under Mike Price. UTEP has fashioned a combined 13-12 mark in seven Septembers under Mike Price (1-2 in 2004, 3-0 in 2005, 1-2 in 2006, 3-2 in 2007, 1-2 in 2008, 1-3 in 2009, 3-1 in 2010). The Miners are 10-6 in September home games in the Price era, including 3-0 last season.
5 The number of captains named to the football team. UTEP has offensive tri-captains for the 2011 season – junior OL Eloy Atkinson, senior RB Joe Banyard and senior WR Donavon Kemp. The Miners’ defensive and special teams captains are senior LB Jeremy Springer and senior LS Matt Camilli, respectively.
The Number of Letterwinners returning for the 2011 season. The Miners return 42 letterwinners and 10 starters from last year’s squad that finished 6-7 and played in the New Mexico Bowl. UTEP has two returning starters on offense and eight returning starters on defense. The Miners also welcome back their kicker (Dakota Warren) and punter (Ian Campbell) from a year ago.
Number of native El Pasoans on UTEP’s preseason two-deep roster. These players include senior WRs Julio Lopez and Cliff Tucker, and junior NT Ruben Munoz. This is the first time since 2005 (TB Matt Austin, OG Alex DiMatteo, WR Chris Marrow) that there have been three natives on the twodeep.
Mike Price embarks on his 30th season as a collegiate head coach in 2011, and his eighth year at UTEP. Price has posted a 169-167 career record, including 40-45 with the Miners. He is the eighth-winningest active head coach in the FBS in terms of victories behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno (401), Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer (240), Texas’ Mack Brown (219), Nevada’s Chris Ault (219), South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (186), Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (179) and Arizona State’s Dennis Erickson (173). Price and Mike Brumbelow (1950-56) are the only coaches to lead the Miners to three bowl games.
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
ON DECK: College Football’s Must See Games of the Season SAL GUERRERO
Going on the 142nd year of existence, college football has captured the hearts of fans every autumn for nearly two and a half centuries. As Beano Cook once put it, “Rutgers and Princeton have been playing since Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House…College football has to be the greatest game.” The game has changed over the years, and over the last two decades it has evolved into a juggernaut. With the kickoff of the Sept. 1 kickoff just days away, I figured I would do a quick run through of the must-see games of the season. Week 1: No. 5 Boise State at No. 19 Georgia While much of the hype to the kickoff has been surrounding the Oregon-LSU game, both universities are riddled with scandal and suspensions. The BSU-UGA game has the potential to be the best game of the first few weeks of CFB. Boise is hunting for their chance to make the title game on Jan. 9 and the Bulldogs hope to bounce back from last season 6-6 performance. Honorable mention must-see: Tulsa at No. 1 Oklahoma Week 2: No. 16 Notre Dame at Michigan A game loaded with history and lore, the two legendary schools face each other for 39th meeting. The one eyepopping difference this year, for the first time in school history Michigan will host a night game at the Big House. What more can a die-hard college football fan ask for? Honorable mention must-see: BYU at Texas Week 3: No. 1 Oklahoma at No.6 Florida State Last season the Sooners pummeled the Seminoles by 30 points, but the FSU returns seven starters from last season. This could be just another bump on the road for the Sooners
on their way to the national title. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel has the athleticism and skill to knockoff the OU, but can he handle the pressure? Honorable mention must-see: No. 17 Michigan State at No. 16 Notre Dame Week 4: No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 8 Texas A&M The potential last meeting between the team programs as part of the Big 12 Conference will not disappoint most CFB fans. The Aggies are finally a program who has found their way out of the Longhorn limelight, but if they want to contend for a conference championship, they’ll have to make it out of the state of Oklahoma alive this season. Honorable mention must-see: Tulsa at No. 5 Boise State Week 5: No. 2 Alabama at No. 22 Florida The first big test for the Crimson Tide on the road this season and a potential legend-making game for senior Gator quarterback John Brantley. Florida has arguably the fast running back in the land, but Bama is stacked on defense with nine returning starters. Honorable mention must-see: SMU at TCU Week 6: No. 1 Oklahoma at Texas The Red River Rivalry (Shootout as I still call it) in Dallas will set the scene for the 106th meeting between the Longhorns and Sooners. Texas went through some growing pains last season under quarterback Garrett Gilbert and potentially will come into the game unranked for the first time since 1998. Honorable mention must-see: No. 18 Ohio State at No. 10 Nebraska Week 7: No 12 South Carolina at No. 20 Mississippi State Coming off a four- loss season, capped off by a bowl win against Michigan, the Bulldogs have their sights set on the doubters this season. South Carolina has the makings to turn
some heads in the SEC this season. This game could end in upset for USC playing in Starkville, but the Head Ball Coach has his teams’ defense locked and ready to go. Honorable mention must-see: Michigan at Michigan State Week 8: No. 25 USC at No. 16 Notre Dame With the Trojans on academic probations for the next few years they will be fighting purely for bragging rights in this match up. One of the most historic rivalries in college football, the 82nd meeting between the two schools could be one for the ages. The Golden Domers won last years meeting, but that was their first in the last since 2001. The Trojans would love to spoil any chances for Notre Dame to go to a BCS game. Honorable mention must-see: No. 9 Oklahoma State at No. 21 Missouri Week 9: No. 11 Wisconsin at No. 18 Ohio State With OSU in a heap of trouble with the NCAA, this game could be a passing of the torch for Big Ten supremacy. Wisconsin won last years meeting sending them to the Rose Bowl where they lost to TCU. The Badgers have one of the best running games in the conference and the Buckeys have one of the best defenses. Honorable mention must-see: No. 19 Georgia vs No. 22 Florida (in Jacksonville) Week 10: No. 4 LSU at No. 2 Alabama The top two teams in the SEC go head to head in week 10. Last season the Tigers unseat Bama and ended all hopes of a BCS national title. This year LSU may be four players short thanks to a bar-fight incident that took place right before the season began. This could be the hardest hitting game all season and determine who represents the west in the championship. Honorable mention must-see: No. 6 Florida State at Boston College
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Lounge and Patio
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
A NEW BEGINNING:
Scott Lieberwirth was all smiles when he found out that he was going to be the next UTEP men’s golf coach. His challene will now be to get the team on the winning track. Gus Contreras
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
GUS CONTRERAS The UTEP golf team has taken on a considerable amount of change in 2011 with the hiring of men’s head golf coach Scott Lieberwirth. The golf team had found themselves spiraling in mediocrity the past couple of years and a change in coaching was needed. The UTEP athletic department was in full search for a new coach, and then it came down to the final two coaches that were interviewing for the position. In the end it was former New Mexico State head men’s golf coach Lieberwirth that landed the UTEP coaching void. “There are a lot of early positive aspects to the UTEP program, the city of El Paso, and obviously there is great tradition here at UTEP,” Lieberwirth said. “There hadn’t been the kind of success the supporters and local boosters would have liked, so I saw a really good opportunity for growth for this program.” There have been former UTEP golfers that have gone on to play professionally and become involved in the golf community with great success, but they had first honed their skills at UTEP. Support for the golf team was really high in those days, and it certainly has changed the way the golf team has been able to grow for not only the present, but the future as well. “Support of this program has just blown me away to be honest with how many people are interested,” said Lieberwirth. “The amount of support we have here with this program is something that very few programs in the country have.” The program is in good hands with the boosters, and that is something that Lieberwirth is committed to doing for the better of the program. Along with the great support the program gets, it was an easy transition to make moving from Las Cruces to El Paso. “El Paso is close by from where we were before, my wife works in El Paso, and it was a very easy transition for our family so a lot of factors went into it, “ said Lieberwirth. “I feel that this is a place that can be successful, and I think I can hopefully make that happen.” Lieberwirth achieved tremendous success during his time at New Mexico State including six conference tournament championships, five-time conference coach of the year, and fourteen tournament victories. I wanted to know if it was all of that success caused him to think he had peaked with all that could achieve at New Mexico State and needed a new challenge. “It’s not like we had peaked necessarily at NMSU, because there will be room for improvement up there as well, “ said Lieberwirth. “I just think at the time in my life where I’m at and after eight years it was time for something else. This opportunity came up and the timing was great for it.” Lieberwirth along with being a good coach is a good recruiter and has an eye for talent. It takes vision and an ability to spot special kinds of players that can play the
1 1 ultra competitive game that is collegiate golf. It would be nice to attract players that compete in the largest junior tournaments in the nation, but as a program that needs to be rebuilt it will take some time to attract the bigger names in junior golf and that is where the eye for talent comes into play. “I looks for things that are obvious,” said Lieberwirth. I look at scores because you can look at how nice their swings are, but I’m looking at the numbers they’re putting up on the board. I’m looking for things that you cannot teach. A guy that hits it a longs ways isn’t teachable they’re just valuable assets. I’m not just looking at them today, I’m trying to see where they’re at in one, two, and three years down the road and where they’ll be as players.” That is very hard to argue in terms of what he is looking for because you can get kids that talk a good game, but when they get put in tournament situations they may fold like an accordion. Also, you don’t want to have a player that can’t hit it long because that is what golf courses nowadays demand from players. Finding those players is important, but finding players that can improve the surrounding team are important as well. “We work off national rankings to find the best ranked kid available, its important to find that talent, but out of that talent its important to find the talent who wants to be at UTEP and who wants to be in El Paso,” Lieberwirth said. “When we bring them in a show them the facilities at our disposal, showing them our campus, and our town we’re still out in the middle of the desert and we’ll never be able to change that, but we want kids that want to be here. If we get those kids that want to be here we’ve got great weather year round, an opportunity to play a bunch of really good golf courses, and we play division 1 golf at the highest level. That will attract good players.” Like Lieberwirth mentioned there are some really good courses that the team are able to use. It can make preparing for golf tournaments much better and more competitive for the players on the team. With the current squad it will take some time to evaluate the players on the team because they have accumulated seventeen players on the roster, but Lieberwirth feels there is some talent already on the current squad. “First things, first we have the team that we have and nothing will change in the short term so what we have to do is take what we have and make every player better on this team,” said Lieberwirth. It’s going to be slow and we’re not going to ask them to great over night, but its get a little better everyday. Before you know it when you look six months back you can say I am a little bit better than I was a year ago. If we can get everybody to buy into that and get into that mind frame they can leave the course feeling that they’re just a little bit better with what they’ve done.” The approach that coach Lieberwirth brings makes you wonder what would have happened if he were a coach of a different sport. He has that tenacity and edge that
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M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
SPRINGER READY TO LEAD MINER DEFENSIVE FRONT GUS CONTRERAS
Jeremy Springer hasn’t had an easy ride in his college football career. Mike Price and his staff originally recruited him as a quarterback but the coaching staff felt that with his size and ability he would be better suited to play defense. After talking things over, Springer decided to make the change to linebacker for the 2009 season. The change was difficult for Springer and there was a steep learning curve that he had to overcome. He went from a position where he was comfortable and knew what to do to being on the other side and was in charge of anticipating the offense’s every move. It’s taken some time for things to come naturally, but his hard work has begun to pay off as his coaches have mentioned him as a potential starter. Add into that a vote of confidence by his teammates as Springer been chosen by his teammates to be a team captain of the 2011 UTEP football team. “Jeremy Spring is one of the best stories you could think of with his hard work and his dedication,” linebackers coach Robert Rodriguez said. “He’s one of those guys that doesn’t have to be rewarded all the time for him to continue to work hard and do the right things. He’s got a great work ethic and is very focused to the attention to detail.” It has taken a while for Springer to really adapt to playing a different position, but his size and athletic ability has always made it tough for the coaching staff not to play him. He started all of the Miners games in his sophomore season and the playing time has made him a great asset to the team. In his junior year with UTEP Springer played in all but two games due to an ankle injury, but there were signs that indicated he was improving throughout the 2010 season. He ended the season recording 25 tackles, including his first career sack in the season finale against Tulsa. Going into his senior year and having been through multiple training camps at the position, it’s evident that Springer walks around the field with a certain excitement as he counts down the days to the season opener. “Its actually nerve wracking because I want to have a great season,” Springer said. “I’ve busted my butt and this team have busted their butts to be the best that we can, and I want it to be great. I’m trying everything I can to help this team.”
The Miners are projected to do well on defense this season with Springer and the crew of linebackers serving as one of the focal points on the defense. According to players and coaches, everyone has been working out all summer, but Springer knows that there are still things that need to be worked on before the season kicks off. “The coaches have been telling us to play as one,” Springer said. “We need to play as a team, communicate as a team, play hard, and play fast to do our best job.” The team has had a transformation since defensive coordinator Andre Patterson has taken over and in his second year, he likes what Springer brings to the table everyday. “He’s had a great camp that started off in the spring, and has carried over to the fall,” Patterson said. “He definitely deserves to be voted captain and he’s definitely one of our leaders, and I’m very happy with him. The leadership ability that he’s shown throughout the spring and fall has been outstanding. I think the biggest thing is he studies the game, and he knows his defense almost as well as we do as coaches.” Having a player that knows the game on the field is a huge boost, but one that is parked in the middle of the defense is tremendous. Having a set of eyes on the field that knows and understands where to be on every play gives the defense instant credibility. That said, the coaches will rely heavily on Springer’s field of vision and his ability to sniff out plays. Coach Rodriguez credits Springer for his vision and ability at the linebacker position. “As a former quarterback he just so good at seeing the field,” Rodriguez said. “Him being a former quarterback he gets us lined up, makes the right checks, he is very responsible at getting us on the same page, and he plays really fast because he knows what he’s doing. He’s not a speed guy, but some of the best middle linebackers aren’t always speed guys but they’re very instinctual and know their angles and that’s what he does.” Springer wrapped the 2010 season at the New Mexico Bowl with a season-high seven tackles. It’s an impressive statistic, but he knows there are still things that he needs to work on going into the start of the new season. “I’ve learned this playbook more and more everyday and I’m trying to get this defense pulled together,” Springer said. “We have to eliminate the little things there are a lot of communication things that rely on me and just fixing those
Continued on page 16
Jeremy Springer will enter his senior season as one of the captains of the football team. He has diligently worked through the challenges he has faced and now focuses on winning a C-USA championship.. Rober to Car r illo/EL DIARIO DE EL PASO
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Volleyball: Senior Stephanie Figueroa was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday. This is Figueroa’s third career defensive player of the week honor. “Stephanie made so many big plays for us this weekend,” said head coach Ken Murphy. “She had a large impact on the outcome of our matches and made plays at important times.” Figueroa was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the El Paso Sports Commission Invitational leading the Miners to claim the first-place title as they won four consecutive matches to begin the 2011 campaign. The Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico native posted a tournament-high 71 digs and averaged 5.46 digs per set. She tallied a team-best 19 digs in three of the four victories. UTEP is back in action Friday, September 2 at the Cornell Invitational in Ithaca, N.Y. taking on Niagara at 10 a.m. (MT) and team host Cornell at 5 p.m. The Miners will face American (10 a.m.) and Delaware (3 p.m.) on Sat., September 3. Photo: Jeff Taylor
UTEP Alumni: DAEGU, Korea – Former UTEP standout Blessing Okagbare finished fifth in the women’s 100m final at the 2011 IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea, on Wednesday. Okagbare (seen here during at the 2009 UTEP Springtime invitational), who is competing for Nigeria, ran out of the preliminary round with a time of 11.10 to automatically advance to the semifinal during the weekend. The four-time NCAA champion moved into the finals clocking at 11.22 in today’s semifinal before crossing the finish line at 11.12 for fifth place. Also competing in the event was Oludamola Osayomi, Nigeria’s bronze medalist in the 4x100m relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Osayomi finished second in the third of seven preliminary heats with a time of 11.15. She did not make it out of the semifinal finishing eighth with a time of 11.58. Churandy Martina and Ronalds Arajs competed in the men’s 100m sprint. Arajs made an early exit posting a time of 10.52 in the opening round running in a Latvia uniform. Martina qualified automatically with a time of 10.32 running in the third of seven heats. The Netherlands native bowed out of the competition with a time of 10.29 in the semifinal. He will compete in the 200m preliminaries on Friday, Sept. 2, and as part of the 4x100m relay on Sunday, Sept. 4. Current Miner Endurance Abinuwa will take the track on Thursday, Sept. 1, in the women’s 200m preliminary with Okagbare and a day later as part of Nigeria’s 4x400m relay. Okagbare, Abinuwa and Osayomi are all part of Nigeria’s 4x100m relay set to compete on Sunday, Sept. 4, at Daegu Stadium. Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
ON DECK (continued from page 8) Week 11: No. 3 Oregon at No. 7 Stanford Last season quarterback Andrew Luck fell three touchdowns short of beating Pac-12 rival Oregon. This season the junior QB has more than just “Luck” on his side as he hopes to spoil the Ducks BCS hopes. Oregon has one of the best running backs in the conference in LaMichael James and arguably the best defensive back in the country in Cliff Harris. The Ducks will not go lightly and bring with them 23,000 plus fans wherever they go. Honorable mention must-see: No. 14 TCU at No. 5 Boise State, Miami at No. 6 Florida State Week 12: SMU at Houston The two most high-flying teams in Conference USA are set to take the stage in week 12. The Cougars and Mustangs could each top-25 teams by this time in the year. Case Keenumn returns this season after suffering a season-ending injury, but the June
SPRINGER (continued from page 12)
things will help us out tremendously.” Getting the defense pulled together will be one of his duties on the defense. His leadership qualities will help the Miners both on and off the field. Coach Rodriguez has spoken very highly of his senior linebacker, and Rodriguez feels having Springer on his squad helps make him a better coach. “He’s always had a good work ethic, he’s always had a good attention to the detail, and he knows this defense just as well as the coaches and it’s a breath of fresh air,” Rodriguez said. “It’s been great to see him get rewarded for all his hard work, and he bleeds orange and blue. He’s been a great teammate, and he’s been a great kid for me ever since I’ve met him and he’s turned into a really good linebacker. We trust him as our captain.” The journey to this point in
Jones Mustangs are turning over a new leaf this season. This game could pit the two best teams in the C-USA. Honorable mention must-see: No. 20 Mississippi State at No. 15 Arkansas Week 13: Rivalry Week 10 games, one day, college football could not get any better than this folks. Whether it is OSU-Michigan, Florida State-Florida or Oregon State-Oregon, there is almost 300 years of history between those six schools in terms of rivalries. Not to mention there is Penn State-Wisconsin, Alabama-Auburn and Missouri-Kansas. I could write a book about this week but for your sake you get this small paragraph. My advice: Take the day off, send the kids with the grandparents and lock yourself away with three TV’s and a DSL connection for the computer. Honorable mention must-see: Houston at Tulsa Week 14: No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 9 Oklahoma State The Cowboys have not won since the class of seniors were in 8th grade, which could make this game in the
biggest of the last two weeks of the college football season. Oklahoma is a title contender and could be undefeated by this time of the year. Both teams will be looking for a shot to unseat the other, but OK St. has the home crowd and underdog potential on their side. Whoa Nelly, this could be an old fashion shoot out. Honorable mention must-see: BYU at Hawaii Week 15: Army vs Navy Arguably the most historic and longest lasting rivalry in college football, the Midshipmen and Black Knights face each other for the 112th time. A game that began in 1890 and has been held almost every year since pits the two academies against each other for interservice bragging rights. Navy has won the last nine straight games, but Army is no sure win the historic rivalry. The game returns to Maryland after being hosted in Pennsylvania the last three seasons. This game will end the last week of college football for the year.
Springer’s career has been exciting, and the transformation from quarterback to linebacker has been equally exciting. The Miner coaching staff has always had great things to say about their dedicated leader on the field. Springer now has a chance to finish off his career on a high note. ,-Being voted captain by teammates is something special in a football player’s career, and it seems that the entire team chose the right man for the job. All that remains to be seen is how that translates into having a successful season on the field, but that shouldn’t be too hard for one of the hardest working players on the team.
Leiberwirth (continued from page 12)
football and basketball coaches have, but rarely do you hear it coming from a golf coach. It has to fill you with confidence knowing that he is going to give it his all, and knowing that he knows what needs to be done. I don’t know if I have ever gotten this excited about a new UTEP coach in any sport, but you should feel the same way. The UTEP golf program is on the rise and you need to get ready to see some great golf played by the program in the coming years.
M I N E R I L L U S T R AT E D. C O M
THE FINAL WORD: UTEP’s season rests on Lamaison and O-Line JOSH PUGA With less than a week from the opening of the 2011 football season in the Sun Bowl, Miner fans are excited and anxious to see what this season will bring. While there is always optimism from most of the UTEP faithful, this year could turn into a special underdog story or it could end just as the experts predicted; another disappointing losing season. As I was reading Chris Avila’s editorial last week I started to think about defenses under head coach Mike Price and decided to do a little digging. While I agree whole heartedly with the editorial and how the defense must play consistently throughout the season for the Miners to be successful; I am not sure the defense is going to pull out many victories on their own similar to other powerhouse defenses in the FBS that are consistently ranked in the top 50 or higher year after year a la Boise State, Alabama, TCU and others. In Price’s first season as coach in 2004 the Miners ranked 49th in total defense and unfortunately haven’t been close to cracking the top 50, hovering right around the top 100 mark for the last couple of years. There has been some improvement as UTEP went from 115th in total defense in 2009 to 93rd last season so they are some positive signs for this defense. I realize that stats aren’t everything and although a dominant defense would be a welcomed sight in El Paso that hasn’t been Price’s M.O. with his offensive background and philosophy. So why would that change this year. I understand the defense is returning most of their starters from last season and the depth at almost every position is better than it has ever been. There is the potential for the defense to have a great year, but can Miner fans honestly believe
the defense is going to carry this team with all the high-powered offenses they will face this year. Don’t bet on it. The coaching staff believes the defense will be a big part of how well the team performs and while I agree to a certain extent I am still not sure the defense will carry this team to a winning season without some help. That’s where starting quarterback Nick Lamaison and the Miner offense comes in. Before the Miner Maniacs start throwing pick axes at me, let me assure you that the defense will be improved, but will need the offense to perform at a high
positions with some talented running backs and wide receivers, including his junior college teammate wide receiver, Mike Edwards. Lamaison has all the tools to make this season successful and fans will be pleasantly surprised when he hits the field. He has been working hard to learn the offense and seems to be getting better at just the right time. The biggest wild card is the offensive line and whether they can hold it together for 12 games and avoid the injury bug that plagued the Miner line last season. Besides the quarterback position and as surprising as it might be to some fans, the center position is the second most important position on the offense and could be the difference between a losing season or a back to back bowl invitation. If starting center Eloy Atkinson can stay healthy throughout the season this could be a special first year for Lamaison and the Miner offense. I fully understand there are four other linemen along with Atkinson, but as the quarterback of the line his position is crucial to ensure the offense is firing on all cylinders. Luckily for Lamaison and the offense, they will have a tune up game with Stony Brook to work out the kinks prior to a tough first half of the season. Without a major contribution from the offense this could be a long season. To end on a positive note, the offense has been playing more consistently as of late and seems to be catching up to the defense. If they can continue to improve as the season goes along the Miners can prove all the doubters wrong and bring UTEP their first winning season in 5 years. The wait is almost over and we should get some answers soon. Just four more days.
“When Price was first hired,he wasn’t hired for his defensive mind,he was brought in to bring some offensive fireworks to the Sun Bowl.” level with sustained drives and putting plenty of points on the scoreboard. When Price was first hired he wasn’t hired for his defensive mind, he was brought in to bring some offensive fireworks to the Sun Bowl and for the most part he has delivered. Most of the college football pundits aren’t predicting the Miners to finish with a losing season this year because of their defense. The main reason many experts believe UTEP will struggle this year is based on the inexperience on offense. Replacing ten starters is no easy chore and Price had to go the junior college route to try and produce a winner this season. Leading the way is Lamaison who was recently named the starting quarterback for the Miners. Fair or not, the junior college transfer will make or break the season for UTEP. He will have some help from the skill
Amanda Pak ... she shoots, she scores! Michael P. Reese/UTEP Athletics
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