The UTEP Report

What happened to the high-powered Mike Price offense that carried the Miners to a sparkling 5-1 record?

What happened to the high-powered Mike Price offense that carried the Miners to a sparkling 5-1 record?

It's been pretty much non-existent during UTEP's three-game losing streak, with no promises it will return by Saturday's home finale against SMU.

"What we're trying to do right now is talk about the answers and solutions to our offensive struggles, but I can't put my finger on why (the team has struggled)," Price said. "In the first two games (of the losing streak against UAB and Tulane), our injuries at the center position didn't help one bit, but this week Eloy (Atkinson) played really well at center and we might get (Tanner) Cullumber back against SMU, so he might be able to replace (Rod) Huntley if he can't play this week. So we still have good players in the offensive line, good receivers, a good running back and a good quarterback, and we should be better than this."

With running back Donald Buckram clearly not what he was in 2009 -- he's missed much of the season with a bruised knee and hasn't looked very dangerous in the games he's played healthy in -- it seemed UTEP was going to get by with a great passing attack powered by senior quarterback Trevor Vittatoe and senior wide receiver Kris Adams.

The problem is Vittatoe has not only struggled in the last three games, he's bordered on awful, completing just 47 of 95 passes for 500 yards, six interceptions and two touchdowns. He's also fumbled three times, losing one of them.

If UTEP wants to return to a bowl game for the first time in Vittatoe's career, and save Price's head coaching job, it's clear the senior quarterback who looked like one of the league's best just a month ago, will have to break out of his recent funk in a hurry.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Kris Adams -- It seems Adams is the only consistent producer on the UTEP offense this season. He has 10 touchdown grabs this year and is tied for second in C-USA, trailing just Houston RB Bryce Beall (12). Even in down offensive games, Adams manages to do at least something for the Miners.

QB Trevor Vittatoe -- He has eight interceptions this season and six have come in the last three games. His ability to break out of his recent funk is all that stands between UTEP and a bowl game for the first time in five years. Well, that and three pretty good teams remaining on the schedule.

CB Travaun Nixon -- Nixon and everyone in the UTEP secondary will be tested this week against SMU head coach June Jones' run-and-shoot offense. Nixon leads the Miners with three interceptions, but they could really use some help this week and a couple takeaways would do the trick.


Pony Stampede Top Stories