The Five Stages of Grief for UTEP fans were on full display Friday night in many a sports bar and den...
Denial. "No WAY! I did NOT just see that!"
Anger. "Where the #*&@ is the defense?!"
Bargaining. "C'mon! Just...c'mon!"
Depression. "This sucks."
Acceptance. "When does basketball practice start?"
So, what's different from most other years?
UTEP's 30-point thrashing by Houston was just the second game of the season, that's what.
Not that the Miners haven't been thoroughly beaten in a second game before. Just that usually those pole-axings come in paycheck games. Some big-name program gets to use UTEP as a piñata, the Miners make good bank and UTEP's women's rifle team gets ammo and airfare.
But this woodshed whipping is different because Houston is a Conference USA opponent. A very good one, no doubt. Maybe even better than many had thought.
However, that won't assuage Miners fans already searching for Floydemption. And UTEP doesn't even get a fat check as a poultice for their wounds, physical or emotional.
Miner management will say it's only the second game of the season. Things can improve.
Yes, things can.
One sign that Houston really might be better than anyone thought this season was that it played defense. Judging from any number of past UTEP-UH games the Cougs used to think "played defense" referred to a stage role.
Sure, Donald Buckram was missing, but UTEP's veteran offensive line wasn't and still the Cougars held the Miners to just 100 yards rushing.
Sure, UTEP's Trevor Vittatoe threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, but Houston kept the Miners to just 24 points.
And if you were looking for UTEP defensive coordinator Andre Patterson's charges to show something more...why?
Not to be completely sarcastic -- it's a serious question. Any drastic defensive improvement wouldn't happen by Game Two.
Really, who is surprised UTEP's defense gave up big run after big run to Houston? The Miners' strength has been that their offense kept them in games.
As for the Cougars, they may have found enough of a defense to finally put them in the Liberty Bowl.
Only time will tell -- and the same must be said of the Miners.
Coaches and players need to be sensitive to UTEP fans, though. Any poke to the paper shoji screen that separates the Miners' football present from its past is never, ever good.