In this series we will look at the Black Knights football opponents for the 2016 season. Today the school we are looking at is UTEP.
Date/time/location/TV: September 17, 7:00pm EST, Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, TX., ASN.
2015 Record: 5-7 (3-5 C-USA). No Bowl Game.
Head Coach: Sean Kugler. Fourth year at UTEP (14-23).
Series History: No previous match ups.
Last Meeting: This will be the first ever meeting between Army and UTEP.
Top Returners: RB Aaron Jones (Sr.) 1,321 yards rushing and 14 total touchdowns in 2014 (Inj. in 2015). LT Jerome Daniels (Sr.) 25 career starts. DE Nick Usher (Sr.) and DT Sky Logan (Jr.) combined for 15 TFLs and 7.5 sacks in 2015. LB Alvin Jones (Jr.) 70.5 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, and 6.5 sacks in 2015.
Key Losses: C Eric Lee, 25 career starts. DE Roy Robertson-Harris, 7.5 TFLs and 2.5 sacks in 2015.
What You Need To Know: The offense was wretched, if not worse, in 2015, but the Miners were without their one true star for most of the season. RB Aaron Jones is a devastating player on his day and if he can stay healthy he is capable of huge numbers. In 2014 games against New Mexico (237 yards), North Texas (177 yards), and NMSU (168 yards), Jones proved just how valuable of a weapon he is to an offense that lacks play makers.
The Miners also have a do everything player on defense in OLB Alvin Jones. Jones had a team high 70.5 tackles last season, to go along with 14.5 TFLs and 6.5 sacks. Jones is a player with a great motor that will rush the passer as hard of the final down of the game as the first. The defense will be undergoing a scheme change, and there are some holes to fill around him, but there is no reason to believe Jones' production will not be at a similar level this fall.
The issue for UTEP last year was through the air. UTEP could not move the ball on teams downfield, nor could they stop anyone with a semi-decent passing attack from lighting up the scoreboard. On defense the main issue was youth as the secondary was led by three freshmen and was beset by injuries. This group should be better automatically in 2016. The quarterback position though remains a worry with neither Mack Leftwich or Kavika Johnson inspiring much confidence.
2015 Stats That Matter: Defensive rushing success rate, 41st. Offensive points per game 112th.
Fun Fact: The Miners were almost named the "Ore Diggers" or the "Muckers".
Famous Alumni: Bob Beamon (Long jumper), John D. Olivas (Astronaut), Tim Hardaway (NBA player).