The University of Texas at El Paso will try to follow up its 31-24 road win over New Mexico in the home season opener on Saturday against Texas Tech.
It will be the Miners first home game this season and Tech players are expecting an electric home crowd in El Paso.
UTEP coach Sean Kugler said it will be important to have a sellout crowd for the game to allow the Miners to feed off the energy.
“I can tell you first hand as a player and a coach, there’s nothing like stepping onto that Sun Bowl field with 52,000 screaming people. It’s one of the more difficult places to play when this place is rocking,” he said. “I’m excited for our players because I think they’re going to have the opportunity to experience that for the first time against a Big 12 team in front of the nation.”
The Miners won their season opener, in large part, by running the ball effectively. UTEP sophomore running back Aaron Jones ran for a career-high 237 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
UTEP gained 330 rushing yards as a team against New Mexico and scored three touchdowns on the ground, according the school’s athletics website, compared to only 116 yards and one touchdown through the air.
Kugler said the offense’s performance, especially in the running game, was impressive last weekend.
“I thought the running backs were outstanding. Aaron Jones had 237 yards and a 10.8-yard average,” Kugler said. “He was getting stron- ger as the game went on and really had some outstanding vision runs. More importantly, he had some strong runs, some physical runs.”
Last season, Jones led UTEP with a freshman record 811 yards on 155 attempts and earned Conference USA All-Freshman team honors.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said the Red Raiders struggled to stop the run last season and against Central Arkansas, so he knows UTEP is going to try to run the ball as much as possible.
“They do such a good job running the football,” Kingsbury said. “Just watching the film from last week, they really pounded the rock against New Mexico, so obviously with what we put on film, they’ll be expecting to run the ball against us.”
Due to the Red Raiders using an up-tempo, air-raid offense, Kugler said the Miners have increased the speed of their practices this week.
While Tech’s quick offense is not something that UTEP is used to seeing in practice every day, Kugler said he expects his defense to step up to the challenge.
“We’ll probably throw no-huddles at our defense the entire week. Rapid plays, one after the other,” he said. “We do have to get lined up quickly and get our communication in there quickly. We’ve got to make our calls quickly because they will catch you off guard if you’re not ready. There are rules in place where if they do substitute personnel they give us time to substitute as well.”
The game will kick off at 10 p.m. Central Standard Time Saturday night in Sun Bowl Stadium, where the Red Raiders and Miners have faced off ten times. Tech leads the series with six wins over UTEP’s three, and the two teams have one tie.