POSTED: Friday, April 6, 2012 - 9:22pm
UPDATED: Friday, April 6, 2012 - 10:40pm
UTEP won! Well, sort of. The annual football spring game took place at the Sun Bowl tonight, and the Blue team was victorious over the White team, 25-0. Really, it was offense versus defense in what amounted to a scrimmage to finalize spring practice.
Nathan Jeffrey had 18 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. Backup Josh Bell was next in line with 14 carries for 58 yards. Senior Quarterback Nick Lamaison looked fast behind an inexperienced and injured offensive line, finishing 12-26 for 122 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Carson Meger was 8-12 for 102 yards and a touchdown, wile Jay Hall was 1-3 for 9 yards, but was hurried repeatedly throughout the night.
Tight End Eric Tomlinson had a touchdown receiving as well as sophomore receiver Jordan Leslie. Sophomore kicker Steven Valadez was 3-4 on field goals, the only miss coming from 49 yards out. Punter Ian Campbell averaged 46.4 yards per punt on five attemps.
“We had four starting offensive linemen missing against a defense that was hitting hard, and I thought Jeffery really played well,” UTEP coach Mike Price said. “He doesn’t look as big because he has those skinny legs. But he’s 205, 210 pounds. He’s a heavy duty running back.”
“We will solve that by recruiting and also by getting [starting center] Eloy Atkinson back,” Price said. “That’s not our full team that you saw tonight. The timing of the offense has been off all spring. It’s tough to throw the ball, find the handle, read the defensive end and do all the things that we’re trying to do without a perfect snap. We know what we’re doing, we just have to get the right snapper in there.”
On the other side of the ball, A.J. Ropati was credited with 10 tackles and the defense registered four sacks – one each from Cooper Brock, Ruben Munoz, Drew Thomas and Greg Watkins.
“The defense is playing well,” Price said. “I was very pleased with Drew Thomas. He had a great spring. He broke on the ball and made some really critical tackles, he corner blitzed and really made plays.”
The defense forced three turnovers, with Munoz and Marcus Bagley both recovering fumbles and Thomas picking off Lamaison for a 10-yard return. While the Blue team registered 493 yards of offense, 150 came on three plays – a 47-yard run by Jeffery, 58-yard reception by Garcia and Leslie’s 45-yard TD. The offense averaged 3.4 yards on its other 101 plays for the night.
“I feel real good about the spring and where we sit today,” UTEP defensive coordinator Andre Patterson said. “I told the players, are they going to be satisfied with what they did in 15 practices, or are they going to take it as a taste of how good they can be and work even harder.”
The Miners will start fall drills on Monday, Aug. 6, with Socorro, N.M. camp slated for Aug. 7-15. Coach Price is eager to have a full compliment of offensive players at his disposal.