We are fortunate today to welcome Bret Bloomquist of the El Paso Times in for our Friday Q&A in advance of North Texas' game against UTEP on Saturday at Apogee Stadium.
UNT (6-3) is 5-1 in C-USA play and can wrap up the league's West Division title with a win over the Miners. UTEP (0-9) has struggled all year and is 0-5 in C-USA play.
Here is what Bret had to say about tomorrow's game:
1. Why has UTEP struggled so much this year?
They have no offensive playmaking, particularly at receiver. Everything was supposed to be built around the offensive line but they have underachieved. The defense has improved to the point they could win games in this league, but the offense just can't move the ball. They haven't scored more than 16 offensive points in a game.
2. What difference has the coaching change made?
There seemed to be an initial burst of energy and they are playing hard, but they just don't have the players on offense. What Mike Price would like to do is run a wide-open passing offense, which they are completely unsuited for, so they just plod along with their run-based scheme. The big difference I've noticed is the offense now wears white in practice before a road game. Price has tinkered at the margins like that but things haven't fundamentally changed.
3. Is UTEP still playing hard or have the Miners packed it in?
Their effort is good, that's not the problem. The defense has tended to tire late in games because they are on the field the whole time, but they've haven't quit since the Arizona game.
4. What is the strength of UTEP's team?
They have three good corners, as good a unit as there is in Conference USA, and two pretty good safeties so the secondary is by any standards pretty good. There is no identifiable strength on offense. Oh, their deep snapper and punter are solid.
5. How do you see this playing out?
Not well for UTEP. UNT is about a 24-point favorite, so 30-6 sounds about right.
FEATURED PHOTO: North Texas wide receiver Rico Bussey, Jr. (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning touchdown in the Mean Green's win over Texas-San Antonio earlier this season. (Jake King/DRC)