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September 16, 2012Saturday night at the Sun Bowl started with questions. A majority of them have to do with the offense and the lack of it. Questions that quite frankly, needed to be answered after the first two games of the season.
Would we see Nathan Jeffery on the field and if not, could the backup running backs pick up the slack where they didn't last week? Would the offense be able to get in the end zone? Will Nick Lamaison find his receivers and start to become the quarter back every one thinks he can be?
Jeffery did suit up Saturday but was only a decoy as he was still nursing the groin injury he suffered in week one against Oklahoma. With that, it once again left the ground game to the "running back by committee," just as it did last week at Ole Miss. Autrey Golden, LaQuintus Dowell and Josh Bell took care of business the job this week and looked good doing it. The three headed monster carried the ball a total of 37 times for 177 yards.
With that it begs the question, where was that last week?
The Miners were finally able to get in the end zone and get in they did. UTEP scored on its first four possessions with drives of 47, 62, 67 and 86 yards, respectively. These touchdowns came by way of two through the air and the other two on the ground. This was the first time the Miners have scored on four consecutive possessions to start a game since the 2005 season and it happened twice that year. The first time was against Rice and the second, Texas Southern. Amazingly enough, all of this happened in the first half.
With that it begs the question, where has this offensive production been the first two weeks?
Lamaison was more than capable in finding his receivers on Saturday night and capable may be understating it. He was 23-36 for 310 yards through the air on Saturday. To put his night in perspective, before Saturday, Lamaison was 27-56 for 256 yards passing, in the first two games. This is the kind of performance he needs to give the Miners every week for the Miners to be successful for the remainder of the season.
With that it begs the question, why didn't Lamaison play this well the first two games?
Where was the ability to run the ball, get the ball in the end zone and to pass the ball with consistency?
If there was answer for all these questions the Miners would go undefeated for the rest of the season. But if you had to guess, the best way to understand it would be like this.
The reason for the schedule being the way it is was for this reason. It was to build the team up by putting them it tough situations, situations that they will undoubtedly never see again for the rest of the season. If tonight is any indication of how the rest of the schedule is going to go, they are in for a fun ride.
Chad Middleton, also the producer for 600 ESPN El Paso's SportsTalk, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at @chad600espn. Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.