Foes to Know: UTEP

RaiderPower.com is taking a closer look at Texas Tech's 12 regular season football opponents in 2015. Senior writer Joe Yeager will spotlight two players who could pose problems for the Red Raiders. One will be on offense and the other will be from the defense. Up next in the series is UTEP, led by running back Aaron Jones (pictured above).

Who would have guessed that last year’s victory over UTEP would prove Texas Tech’s only win over a bowl-bound football team?

The Red Raiders’ narrow 30-26 road win was just that, however, as the Miners went on to a 7-6 season and a berth in the New Mexico Bowl against Utah State. As such, this was arguably Tech’s best win of a dismal 4-8 season.

In 2015, the Miners venture to Lubbock on Sept. 12, one week after taking on Arkansas in Fayetteville. They will bring 11 returning starters on offense and defense, to go along with one of the nation’s best placekickers, and should be an improved squad under third-year head man Sean Kugler. And in running back Aaron Jones and defensive end Roy Robertson-Harris, Kugler has a couple of players who can damage the Red Raiders.

Offensive Player to Watch
NAMEPOSCLASSHOMETOWNHTWTNOTEWORTHY
Aaron JonesRBJREl Paso, TX5-10205144 yards, 2 TDs against Tech in 2014

If you enjoy watching great running backs, the Texas Tech-UTEP tilt should be a real treat. In Deandre Washington and Aaron Jones, the teams boast two of the premiere ball-carriers in the western tier of the United States. And the Red Raiders will need no convincing on that score as Jones rolled up 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 23 carries against them last year.

For the season Jones rambled for 1,321 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per tote. Based upon his excellent effort in 2014, Jones is on the Maxwell and Doak Walker Award watch lists.

For Tech to be successful against Jones this time around, the Red Raiders will have to be much more physical than they were a year ago. Frankly, Jones ran through and over Tech for much of the evening while doing most of his damage between the tackles.

Jones is basically a north-south, between-the-tackles runner, but with good enough vision to pop outside if the defense’s containment is weak. He runs physically, finishing off carries well, and with great tenacity, refusing to go down easily. Jones also has good balance, decent acceleration, and enough wiggle to make the first guy miss. All in all, he’s got a nice package of skills that make him a dangerous back.

Defensive Player to Watch
NAMEPOSCLASSHOMETOWNHTWTNOTEWORTHY
Roy Robertson-HarrisDESRGrand Prairie, TX6-7255Led UTEP in TFL, sacks and QB hurries in 2014

For the second week in a row Texas Tech’s offensive tackles will get a test. After facing Sam Houston’s P.J. Hall in week one, the Red Raiders will see UTEP’s rangy Roy Robertson-Harris in week two.

Robertson-Harris was an honorable mention C-USA performer a year ago and should do much better than that in 2015. Not that he was chopped liver in 2014. In fact he led the Miners in tackles for loss with 9.5, sacks with 3.5, quarterback hurries with six, and forced fumbles with four. That latter number was also second best in the conference.

The Miner roster is not stacked with NFL talent, but in the 6-foot-7 Robertson-Harris, UTEP definitely boasts a player who will get a shot at the next level. Hopefully he won’t look like an NFL defensive end in game two of the season.

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