Oct. 19, 2010
Well, how about THAT? Two-game losing streak...done. Home team never won in UTEP series...'til now. Conference win needed...check. Blazers a 2 1/2 point favorite over the Miners...ONLY 2 1/2? What a performance by the Green and Gold! Going into the game with UTEP, we knew the Miners were 5-1. But we also knew the Blazers had played a much more difficult schedule. And in the second half of Saturday's win, I think you saw that come into play. After 'making it through' the first 30 minutes, the Green and Gold put it ALL together for the final 30 minutes.
The defense was fantastic all day long. Gone were the BIG PLAYS by the opponents...yes, UTEP had a couple of big gainers, but they didn't go for touchdowns. And both times the UAB defense was put into a tough position, the Blazer stop troops came through with stops and forced two short field goals. After the second field goal, early in the third quarter, the defense was absolutely dominating. The Miners averaged a ton of points and a ton of yards coming in, but they managed 229 yards on the day and only the two field goals. I have to admit, I was hoping UAB would win the game "Something" to seven...with Trevor Vittatoe throwing one TD pass...which would have moved him ahead of Peyton Manning on the career TD pass list in the NCAA record book. Oh well, I'm sure he'll get it sooner rather than later...and I'll be happy for him. I'm more happy for the Blazer defense for keeping the Miners out of the end zone all day long.
The offense seemed to feed off the defense's success, and in that second half, it didn't look like anyone in blue and orange could stop Bryan Ellis and company. Touchdown drives of 74, 80 and 99 (and a half) yards simply overwhelmed the UTEP defense. They had no answer for the tough running by Justin Brooks, Daniel Borne, Pat Shed, etc. They could not stop Frantrell Forrest, Jeffery Anderson and the other receivers from making highlight-reel catches...on the few occasions when Bryan Ellis wasn't throwing darts to them.
If you were at Legion Field, I think you saw, like I did, a team's confidence grow by the snap. As the defense continued to put the clamps on UTEP, the Miners had no answer. When the Blazer offense began to pound away, the Miners had no answer. The end result was a truly dominating performance, and one that I think may do wonders for this team. It's nice to see their hard work pay off. While the results haven't been what anyone would've like up until this point, it's hard to be disappointed with the effort the players have given for much of the campaign. Now, let's hope the confidence will continue to grow this Saturday in Starkville.
The Blazers are catching Mississippi State at an interesting time. The Bulldogs are playing well, no doubt. They are on a four-game win streak, and they are coming off their first victory in Gainesville since 1965. They are ranked for the first time in a while, and it's homecoming on the MSU campus. All that said, the Blazers are 2-4...from Conference USA...and Kentucky comes to Starkville next weekend...hmmm. Did anyone watch South Carolina knock off Alabama? Did anyone watch South Carolina forget the 4th quarter in Lexington last Saturday?
State has a MUCH-improved defense (#13 in the country in scoring at 16.0 points per game), and the offense is on pace to be one of the best in school history. The Bullies are running over their opponents to the tune of 212 rushing yards per game, and they've averaged over 280 yards on the ground in their last three games (wins over Alcorn State, Houston on the road and Florida on the road). And just for fun, they've scored 10 rushing touchdowns in those three victories.
So, it will take a similar, UTEP-like effort for the Blazers to come away with the upset at Scott Field. As I said, the confidence should be much higher after that win, and don't discount the early trip to SEC territory. We all know what SHOULD have happened in Knoxville, and I think that game can be a big help on Saturday, as well.
It's a 6 PM kick at Davis Wade Stadium, and it's an easy trip to make. I hope you are planning on being there...a little gold will really stand out amongst all that maroon! Our pre-game coverage on radio will begin at 4:30 PM, and once again our good friend Vince Ferrara will be in the booth. John Whitcomb, who has done a super job this year, can't be with us. Vince filled in admirably in Knoxville...and almost got us a win! Let's see if he can finish the job this time around. The rest of the cast remains the same...Otis Leverette will be prowling the sidelines, Jon Gentile will make sure all the right buttons are pushed, and Alec Campbell will keep us updated back in our Red Diamond Studio.
Have a great week...make the trek with us to Starkvegas...and GO BLAZERS!!!