UTEP senior safety and captain DeShawn Grayson is wearing Richard Spencer's jersey in honor of his fellow safety who blew out his knee last week. No work on whether a different player will wear the jersey each week, which was the case in 2010 after senior safety Braxton Amy was lost for the year to injury.
Message: Not many Pirates have traveled to UTEP probably, and few UTEP folks will make their way to Greenville tomorrow. However, if you see any please welcome them and be very cordial. When I traveled to UTEP for our first game out there I was shocked at how nice and friendly their fans were. We walked completely thru their campus to and from the game and they almost wore us out saying welcome on the way in and congratulations on the way out. I've been to 21 different campuses for away games, and bar none, they were the tops.
UTEP had a health scare Tuesday afternoon when redshirting freshman offensive lineman Trint Jenkins fainted in the Durham Center around the time of an afternoon conditioning session, presumably from after-effects of a concussion sustained at Camp Socorro. Jenkins, at 6-foot-9, 300 pounds the tallest player on the team, suffered the concussion in early August and has not practiced since, but has been conditioning and recently returned to weightlifting. He passed out near the weight room. "It was scary," said Mike Price, who rode in the ambulance to the hospital with Jenkins but is not allowed to identify him by name, per privacy laws. "But he tested out fine with everything and is getting out of the hospital (Wednesday)."
By Bret Bloomquist El Paso Times After two weeks, two power-conference opponents and two losses, any benefits UTEP reaped from its tough schedule were hard to quantify. They seem much more tangible now. Playing mostly without their best player (Nathan Jeffery), against a New Mexico State team that was quite competent in the first two weeks of the season, the Miners very much looked like a team stepping down in class. After four offensive possessions UTEP was up 27-0, and as soon as the Aggies gave a hint of getting back in the game UTEP throttled the life out of them and set themselves up to be a darkhorse in a mostly down Conference USA and against a mostly down Wisconsin next week. Ole Miss and Oklahoma "prepared us a lot," receiver Jordan Leslie said after his 147-yard night. "Going against the best corner, going against the best defensive linemen, it helped us playing against this team." While Leslie talked about how a brutal schedule helped UTEP on the field, safety Ricard Spencer, who set the tone for the game with a first-series interception, talked about how it helped them in the locker room. "You learn about your teammates and the people around you," he said. "We didn't give up, we fought through it and that helped us get closer as a team." And despite the rough start in the win column, the ever-classy New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker had an interesting observation about the Miners. "It was pretty easy for them to come out and have high intensity, especially when you have the thought in your head that you're the better football team," he said, perfectly summing up how a couple of losses just served to ingrain the notion among UTEP players that they have a good team. A touchstone for the Miners can be what Tulsa did a season go. The Hurricanes, who are clearly the class of the C-USA West right now, lost non-conference games to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State in what may be the toughest non-conference schedule a quality team has played in recent memory. They started a predictable 1-3, hit conference and rolled off seven consecutive wins to set up a de-facto West championship game with Houston. UTEP could be in position to do the same. Road games with East Carolina, Southern Miss and Tulsa seem like losses, but a team that went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma and did nice things at Ole Miss won't be intimidated. Even the game at Wisconsin, which seemed like a paycheck drubbing when it was slated to replace a paycheck drubbing at Texas, no longer seems a hill too steep. There are worse long-odds picks than UTEP (and Rice) in a wide-open C-USA where Houston, SMU and Tulane are in deep rebuilding. Mike Price, perhaps serving as a contrarian to the legions who think UTEP is soft and all about finesse, constantly says his team is a tough, smash-mouth, rumbling group and maybe he has a point. UTEP is built around an offensive line, the middle run and a defense that suddenly counts tackling, pass rushing and closing to the ball as a strength (consider all that for a moment). Until the Miners do something like going up to Camp Randall in Madison, Wis. and winning, or venturing across two time zones and beating East Carolina, they won't erase every negative stereotype against them. They have at least a chance to do that. Bret Bloomquist may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6359. Follow him on Twitter @bretbloomquist.
One of New Mexico State's best players this season has been junior college transfer linebacker Trashuan Nixon, who ranks 15th nationally with 12 tackles per game. That name should look familiar to UTEP fans, as his older brother Travaun was a standout for the Miners last year and the year before. Travaun is still going to UTEP, but will cheer for his brother this week. "He always supports me, whatever I do," Trashaun said. "Blood is thicker than water." Whlie this is Trashuan's first I-10 rivarly game, he has heard about it. Travaun "told me this is a big game, they really take it seriously," Trashaun Nixon said. "You play in front of thousands of fans."
As pointed out in the comments in my previous post:
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) -- Mississippi defensive back Trae Elston
has been suspended for one game by the Southeastern Conference for a
''flagrant and dangerous act'' near the end of the Rebels' 28-10 victory
over UTEP on Saturday.
The freshman made a big hit on a UTEP receiver with 3:18 remaining in
the fourth quarter. There was no flag called on the play, but the SEC
found the hit violated two NCAA rules, including initiating ''contact to
the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet,
forearm, elbow or shoulder'' and initiating ''contact against an
opponent with the crown (top) of his helmet.''
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said in a statement he was
''disappointed'' to lose Elston, ''but we are moving forward as a team
and focused on Texas.''
Mike Price said cornerback Drew Thomas took "a bump on his knee" on one of the last plays of Tuesday's practice but that he was fine and holding him out was just a precaution. For what its worth, safeties Deshawn Grayson and Ricard Spencer seemed generally amused, surprised and dismissive of any notion that they would change positions.
Price said Nathan Jeffery and Autrey Golden both practiced Wednesday and were in red jerseys as precautions.
Cornerback Drew Thomas, who worked out Tuesday, didn't practice Wednesday and was coy when asked if he would play, saying only, "I hope so." Practice was closed and Thomas gave no indication what his injury might be.
UTEP better hope he plays as well. No. 3 corner Adrian James is definitely out with an ankle sprain, meaning the Miners' next two players there after Darren Woodard are Terr'l Mark, who was a walk on until a month ago and has rarely played, and little-used C.J. Haley.
This is especially pressing this week, as New Mexico State's Austin Franklin is second in the nation in receiving.
One option would be to move a safety over to corner, as UTEP has good depth at safety. Deshawn Grayson is a team captain and probably the best fit for an emergency position switch.
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