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October 26, 2012

Can UTEP Defense Hold?

Looking strictly at some defensive numbers most college football fans outside of Conference USA and El Paso would be correct to assume that the UTEP defense isn't very good.

UTEP enters this Saturday's matchup with Houston ranked 94th (out of 120 FBS schools) in total defense giving up nearly 445 yards per game, however, you have to look beyond the numbers to see that his particular defense is one of the best defenses head coach Mike Price has had in his tenure at UTEP.

After allowing 439 yards of total offense to Tulane up to the final possession of the game which was possible due to a UTEP turnover, the defense came up big allowing a single yard on four plays to secure UTEP's 24-20 win over the Green Wave.

Unfortunately, the Miners' 2-6 record and the offensive struggles overshadow the effort this unit has put in this season.

When you sit back and think about this season thus far, it is crazy to think this defense could have been even better had the offense been able to put some more points on the board and allowed the defense more time to rest.

As much as Price and his staff would like to go back and fix the offensive problems, the team moves on and continues its quest to close out this season on a high note following a crucial homecoming win versus Tulane this past Saturday.

One thing he won't have to fix is the defense and even with the poor record and offensive issues, defensive coordinator Andre Patterson and his staff are staying the course.

No one would have blamed the defense for tanking the rest of the season after losing six of the first seven games prior to the Tulane matchup, but it goes to show the character of the players that they have continued to play at a high level.

As UTEP prepares for a tough road game against the Houston Cougars, the defense will face the second-best offense in CUSA (537.7 yards per game) and starting quarterback David Piland as he is slated to return following a concussion in last week's SMU loss.

Piland has passed for 2,264 yards this season with 10 touchdowns and has completed 60.5% of his passes. The secondary must be ready after giving up 363 yards to Ryan Griffin last week and more importantly the front seven has to bring the heat to force mistakes from Piland.

The offense will have to do their part keeping the Cougar offensive attack off the field, but the defense will be the key in a tough road battle.

Patterson will once again call on his defensive unit to help UTEP achieve its first win streak of the season.

Won't be easy, but the defense has proven that they are no pushovers.

Josh Puga can be reached at show@minerillustrated.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @jpuga1966 . Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.


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