Miners running backs ready for competition at the spring game
El Paso, TX — The UTEP football team will top off the 2014 spring season with the annual Orange and Blue scrimmage on Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.
Fans will get the opportunity to see the team in full pads for the first time this season in a one-hour scrimmage that will also feature one-on-one drills and two-man pod action.
Following the scrimmage, fans can take the field and get their complimentary 2014 UTEP spring football poster signed by head coach Sean Kugler and UTEP football players.
UTEP will be hosting its second Powder Puff game starting at 3 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.
Fans will be able to tailgate starting at 4 p.m. and concessions will be sold in the Sun Bowl Stadium.
Season tickets are on sale now starting at just $70 for all six home games in general admission and family packs are $198 (2 adults/2 children ages 3-12) in section 1 and 2. To reserve your tickets call (915) 747-6150.
RUNNING BACK ONE-TWO PUNCH
The Miners will return senior to be Nathan Jeffery and sophomore to be Aaron Jones to the backfield. Both tailbacks were set back by injuries during the 2013 season, but produced solid numbers when they were healthy.
Jeffery, a 6-foot, 210-pound downhill style bruising running back, gained 532 yards on 133 attempts (4.0 avg.) and five touchdowns (six total) in 10 games. Jeffery got off to a slow start due to injury, but rushed for 317 yards on 59 carries (5.4 avg.) and four touchdowns the last three weeks of the season.
Jones, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound side-to-side speedy running back, rushed for a UTEP freshman record 811 yards on 155 carries (5.2 avg.) and four touchdowns in nine games. He led all freshmen in rushing average late in the season before breaking his ribs in a game at North Texas. Jones recorded three 100+ yard games, including a career-high 186 yards at Rice. The El Paso native garnered C-USA All-Freshman honors in his first season with the Miners.
RETURN OF JAMEILL SHOWERS
Injuries seemed to be a common theme during the 2013 campaign. Quarterback Jameill Showers’ season was also cut short due to an injury. The senior to be played in seven games, producing 15 touchdowns (11 passing, four rushing), 1,263 yards and only four interceptions on 188 attempts.
Showers’ reign was apparent when he threw for five touchdowns and 365 yards against Colorado State. He was 26-for-42 (60.5 percent) and threw no interceptions in Fort Collins, Colo. Showers came back the next week and tossed three more scores on 237 yards passing versus LA Tech.
Before his injury, Showers was tied for 28th in the nation in points responsible for (92). He also had a passing efficiency rating of 128.40.
Running the ball was also a strong suit, as Showers rushed for 195 yards – including a 74-yard performance against Tulsa
Despite also getting hit by the injury bug, Autrey Golden was one of the top kickoff returners in the nation during the 2013 season. The junior to be returned 28 kicks for 774 yards (27.6 avg.) and two touchdowns.
His average ranked 10th nationally, and the two touchdown returns tied for second in the country. Golden’s touchdowns against New Mexico and UTSA were both 100 yards.
Golden also got some reps at running back, rushing for 150 yards and one touchdown.
The UTEP defense had a few bright spots during the 2013 season, namely two freshmen defensive backs in Devin Cockrell and Dashone Smith. Cockrell led the Miners with 76 tackles (46 solo, 30 assists) and ranked 18th in Conference USA, while Smith totaled 69 stops (37 solo, 32 assists) which ranked 23rd in conference.
The UTEP defense totaled three interceptions, all of which coming from Smith (two) and Cockrell (one).
Cockrell tallied 13 tackles (11 solo, 2 assists), a season-best, at Rice and Smith’s best game was 11 stops (9 solo, 2 assists) at Middle Tennessee.
In UTEP’s first spring scrimmage (March 21), the Miners showed tremendous improvement on both sides of the ball. All-C-USA Freshman honoree Aaron Jones sported pads for the first time and scored a 20-yard touchdown to get the offense rolling.
Making the move from tailback to safety, LaQuintus Dowell showed he was a threat. The junior intercepted a pass by quarterback Ryab Metz and ran it back for a score. Toward the end of the scrimmage, Dowell struckagain by scooping up a fumble and running it back 99 yards.
Quarterback Jameill Showers opened the scrimmage 3-for-8 for 31 yards, then went 5-of-9 for 131 yards with two touchdowns in the red zone and two-minute situations. Showers connected with Jarrad Shaw for a 60-yardtouchdown.
Linebacker Trey Brown took the spotlight in the April 4 scrimmage as he registered seven tackles and scooped up a Roy Robertson-Harris strip to register a 32-yard touchdown.
Robertson-Harris also highlighted the defense as he posted a sack and a forced fumble.
BULKING UP THE INTERIOR
Signing day was recently completed as head coach Sean Kugler’s staff worked hard to bulk up the offensive and defensive lines. While some of the signees will grey shirt, a select few will be looked upon to make immediate contributions.
The fall roster will include nine freshmen linemen, five on defense and four on offense.
DEs Stephen Forester (6-foot-1, 230 pounds), Joseph Kraemer (6-foot-3, 245 pounds), Augie Torris (6-foot-4, 235 pounds), Luke Elsner (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) and nose guard Jason Fao (6-foot, 300 pounds) will bolster the Miners’ depth on defense.
O-linemen Chris Jones (6-foot-1, 300 pounds), Derron Gatewood (6-foot-3, 295 pounds), Jerrod Brooks (6-foot-5, 305 pounds), and Christopher Misaalefua (6-foot-5, 355 pounds) will assist in protecting UTEP quarterbacks and creating holes for running backs.