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October 7, 2012

Where Do You Begin?

Where do you begin after a night like tonight? What are you supposed to say? How are you supposed to say it in a manner that is not insulting and mean? Let me try and please, bear with me.

In only the second time in Mike Price's career as a head coach, he was shut out. Saturday night's final against SMU was 17-0, which coincidentally was the same score at halftime. This leads me to the only assumption that the defense was again solid. And once again, the offense was completely inept.

For weeks now, we here at Miner Illustrated have asked a number of questions, but none has been more prominent than "Where are the tight ends in the offense?" For weeks, this one particular unit has been none existent. Until the first drive of the second half, when four out of the six pass plays went to tight ends did we finally see a balanced offense and the use of the tight ends. There was balanced use of Eric Tomlinson and Craig Wenrick.

(It was noted Kevin Perry went down with an injury and was being helped into the locker room at the end of the game by two teammates. Price had no update on the severity of his injury.)

Unfortunately, just like every other drive Saturday night, the play calling stopped going to the tight ends and so the Miner offense stopped moving as well. To no surprise, the drive stalled and, yes you guessed it, no points on the board for the Miners.

Which leads to the next question we've been asking: How can you have success with something that everyone else, it seems, has success with and then stop? How?

Head coach Mike Price was asked during the postgame press conference about the evaluation of the play calling and the offensive production and skirted around the issue.

"I am not going to speak about the play calling or the offense at this time," he said.

This brings us to the quarterback situation. Nick Lamaison was 9 for 23 for 131 yards with two interceptions. Carson Meger was 7 for 16 for 47 yards with one interception. Meger's numbers are not much better than Lamaison's but Meger has not been getting the opportunities that Lamaison has.

I can only think that the time is now for Meger to get the opportunities. The Lamaison project has failed. Give Meger the ball and see what he can do. He will be here next year, he needs the reps. Lamaison is a senior and gone. If Meger fails too, give the ball to Sullivan and let the kid start to get a feel for what it is like in D-1 football because after what we have seen to this point.

There has to be something better than what we have seen so far this season.

The offense had a bright spot so please don't think the whole night was in complete disarray.

Credit on the offensive side of the ball goes to Nathan Jeffery, who played his heart out the whole night. He had 20 carries for a net of 67 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per carry. Not to mention, he was requested to come and talk to the media after the game and was not afraid to speak about the loss.

Lamaison was asked to come speak to the media and we were told he was unavailable for comment. Yet he had no problem doing a post-game interview with the UTEP media.

If the defense continues to play the way it has, you have to figure the offense will start to match the intensity and effort they have been putting out week after week. You have to think, at some point Meger will be given his chance to succeed or fail. At some point, you have to think that after the success with the tight ends during the first drive of the second half you will see them incorporated more into the offense. You have to think Nathan Jeffery will start to get the 30 carries coach Price said he wanted to get him at the beginning of the year.

You would think.

Chad Middleton, also the producer for 600 ESPN El Paso's SportsTalk, can be reached at show@minerillustrated.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @chad600espn. Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.


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