Can UTEP pick up the pieces ahead of Southern Miss matchup?
Was Army that good or UTEP that bad?
As ugly as the game was, the Miners (1-2) are a better team than the one that showed (or didn’t show) up at the Sun Bowl this past Saturday night -- and Army deserves the top-25 votes they received this week without a doubt after that performance.
As much as fans would like to have the Black Knights beat down erased from their memory, the sting will remain for a while and hopefully not linger past this weekend.
Coach Sean Kugler held no punches at his Monday presser and conveyed his feelings quite appropriately in his opening statement.
“There’s not a lot to say about that performance that we put out there on Saturday night. I would reiterate to the Miner fans: I’m very embarrassed as a head coach. We had such a great crowd with great energy with a lot of expectations, and as a team we didn’t deliver. It was a very humbling experience. I want to apologize to the El Paso fans for our performance.”
Not too comforting for the fans, but as tough as that loss was to swallow and as cliché as it sounds, there is a lot of football to be played.
66-14 blowouts aren’t usually wake-up calls for football teams. However, last season following an equally embarrassing loss to FIU (52-12), the Miners were able to bounce back and win two out of their next three games -- both in the Sun Bowl.
Coincidentally, UTEP’s opponent -- Southern Mississippi (2-1) -- is coming off its own tough home loss after falling to Troy 37-31 over the weekend.
The Golden Eagles looked like the next-best team in C-USA (behind preseason favorite Western Kentucky) after an opening win over Kentucky followed up by a blowout win over Savannah State. Troy wouldn’t exactly be classified as a pushover, but Southern Miss wasn’t expected to lose at home to the Trojans.
So here we are with two teams looking to get back in the win column as the C-USA season opens for each squad. Both teams with a bitter taste in their mouths and both hoping to start the conference season at 1-0. Southern Miss has had some success in El Paso -- going 2-2 in the Sun Bowl -- but UTEP won the last meeting in the Sun City 35-14 back in 2014.
Little consolation for Miner fans, but they need some positives heading into Saturday’s game.
Another loss doesn’t completely derail the season for the Miners, but this could be the beginning of the end -- especially if UTEP follows up the Army massacre with another dud. Every game is important -- you just get the feeling this could be a huge turning point in the season if the Miners can somehow pull off the upset over the Golden Eagles.
Hopefully a half-empty Sun Bowl can witness a #MinerStrong turnaround.