The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Instagram

WAC bottom title

SMU battles UTEP for the crown
 WAC bottom title
WAC bottom title

WAC bottom title

SMU (1-9, 1-5) made use of its idle week to lick its wounds and prepare to face Texas-El Paso (2-8, 1-5) at the Sun Bowl Saturday. The Mustangs may see the return of two key starters on the defense, but only hope for the return of the offense that played the first three quarters in their win over Louisiana Tech.

Senior linebacker Vic Viloria and senior cornerback Kevin Garrett will both make the trip to El Paso. Viloria was injured in the Nov. 2 loss to Nevada and had to leave the game after the first quarter.

“He has not worked out. We totally rested Vic,” head coach Phil Bennett said. “He should play but if he’s not 100 percent or close to it then we’re not going to take the chance and play him.”

Garrett has not played in more than a month but should be ready to reclaim his starting position against the Miners.

“He worked last week, and every day he got better and better,” Bennett said. “Every day he got more comfortable with his knee. If he is able to play, he will start.”

UTEP has struggled as much as the Mustangs this season, winning only two games thus far. The Miners have had the same issues at the quarterback position that the Mustangs hope to have resolved when they started Richard Bartel on Homecoming weekend.

UTEP coach Gary Nord said there are a number of similarities between the Miners and the Mustangs.

“I think the two big similarities are number one, the depth that we’ve had to utilize at the quarterback position, and number two, our turnover ratios,” Nord said. “We’ve turned the ball over 34 times, and they’ve turned it over 27 times. When you turn it over like that, it makes everything look worse than it is.”

“Both of us are playing quarterbacks we probably didn’t anticipate playing,” Bennett said. “They lost their top two quarterbacks and are playing a young man who’s about as experienced as the guys we’re playing.”

SMU junior record-breaking running back Keylon Kincade is second in the WAC in rushing, averaging 108.6 yards per game. Nord is aware of the threat that Kincade poses and plans to have his defense prepared.

“Kincade is a really durable running back,” Nord said. “He has a lot of quickness and strength. He doesn’t have the blazing speed that some tailbacks do. He is very good at reading his blocks, being patient, getting upfield and getting positive yardage. There have only been a handful of times that he has been tackled behind the line of scrimmage.”

SMU has not received warm welcomes in its most recent trips to El Paso and Saturday will be no different.

“They’re a tough team at home,” Bennett said. “They’ve beaten SMU the last two times we’ve been out there.”

The Mustangs have struggled to piece together a complete game, including the win against Louisiana Tech. All facets of the team have not been productive at the same time. When the offense has produced, the defense has struggled. When the defense has held, the offense has stalled. And when the offense and defense have played well enough to win or be competitive, special teams have cost the Ponies precious possessions.

The Miners have faced similar hardships, and both teams are eager to use the other as a means for releasing frustrations.

“They’re looking at us the same way we’re looking at them, as an opportunity to win a game,” Bennett said.

In the face of missed extra points and arid field goal attempts, Bennett will give freshman kicker Chris McMurtray an opportunity to kick in a game situation.

SMU used its time off for “UTEP prep” and opportunities for the red shirt team to scrimmage against the scout team.

Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. Saturday at the Sun Bowl. UTEP will celebrate Senior Day as this will be its last home game of the season. A win will give the Miners a winning record at home (2-2).

More to Discover