One of the great things about being a part of SBN is that the network is so huge that just about every team is covered. I know that many of our readers here at CCM get out there and check out some of the other fansites on the SBN network and I actually would encourage all of you to do so.
A fansite that you may not be familiar with is Miner Rush which is the fantastic UTEP site of SBN. We had Andrew on our podcast Thursday night to discuss the Miners and now we've got him for a Q&A regarding tomorrow night's game.
CCM: Mike Price is a coach who, "fell from grace" but has been able to rebuild his image at UTEP. Going into his ninth season there in El Paso what is the fans perception of him?
MR: In his first few years in El Paso, the fanbase couldn't have been happier with the job that coach Price did. He came in and led us to back to back 8 win seasons after three straight 2 win seasons. The problem was that people grew to expect that type of success on a regular basis. In 2010, after four straight losing seasons, the fans grew restless. That season we had a talented and experienced team, but a ton of injuries had us skidding to a 6-7 finish after a loss to BYU in the New Mexico Bowl. With 2011 being a rebuilding year, and now a sixth straight losing season, people around the city really began to voice their displeasure with where Price has the program. There was question as to whether he'd return for 2012, but with it being the last year on his contract, he was allowed to finish it out. Now, there's absolutely no question; if Price doesn't somehow come through with a winning season, this will be his last year in El Paso.
CCM: You had left a comment earlier in the week saying that Nick Lamaison was set at quarterback even after Price said that he would play two signal callers. What do you believe is going on there?
MR: The comment was made at Coach Price's weekly media luncheon. He had actually just finished talking about how he thought he could keep players from getting injured by keeping them fresh, and rotating players in on a regular basis. A member of the media immediately followed up the statement with the question, will you play Carson Meger? Coach Price answered yes, and that it wouldn't be late in the game. I can't say for sure what coach has in store, but I can guarantee that this won't be some type of timeshare. The job belongs to Nick Lamaison, and it would be a huge to surprise to see anyone else under center for more than maybe a play or two here and there.
CCM: Tell us about tight end Kevin Perry. His size (6-5/255) is perfect for the position. How good is he?
MR: Kevin Perry is a guy who has got great size, speed, and hands. In fact, he's been working extremely hard over the summer, and has put on 20 lbs of muscle. He's now weighing in at 270, but is still running a 4.67 40 yard dash. He's an athletic guy who has actually played with the UTEP basketball team over the last two years as well. I really expect Kevin to have a breakout year this year. Overall, our tight ends will be one of our strengths. And not just because of Kevin Perry, but because guys like Eric Tomlinson, Craig Wenrick, and Katrae Ford as well. I expect at least three of those guys to see the field this week.
CCM: If you're creating the offensive game plan for the Miners, tell us your strategy?
MR: First, we need to establish the run game early on. In the past, we've had issues with becoming one dimensional (pass heavy), and we just can't do that against a team like this. Going along with establishing the run, we need to try and control the clock. The longer the ball is in our hands, and out of the hands of Landry Jones, the better off we'll be. Also, we've got to take what the defense gives us. We can't get impatient, and try to make big plays. That's when mistakes happen, and we can't afford mistakes in this type of game. If the only thing open is the check down for a few yards at a time, then that's what we need to take. Most importantly, we just need to maintain our poise, remember our assignments, and play football. If we do that, we'll be ok.
CCM: Give us a prediction of how you see things shaking out Saturday night in El Paso. Upset, close win for Oklahoma or blowout?
MR: I wish I could say that I see an upset here, but I just can't. I do think that we'll be up for this game, and we'll keep you all within striking distance for the first half. But, in the end, I think the task will just be too much for us, and the final will be somewhere along the lines of 45-17. I hope the outcome is more favorable for us, but at this point that's what I see.