UTEP Coach Mike Price held his weekly media luncheon on Monday. The topic of conversation was of course the upcoming game with Oklahoma.
"It's a chance to showcase our football team, our university, El Paso and the football fans of El Paso,” said Price. ‘UTEP is so important to this community. Our football team has been in five events [over the last month] where we have intermixed with the community, and our players really feel that support. It makes it mean a little bit more to them."
While the visit from Oklahoma is creating a circus atmosphere in El Paso, reality is setting in for the Miner coaching staff. For UTEP, facing Oklahoma is a huge undertaking.
"Oklahoma has no weaknesses,” said Price. “We haven't found a soft spot that we can exploit. They are solid across the board. They do a real outstanding job offensively putting their game plan together. Their quarterback threw for 4,463 yards last year and they still run the ball. They're a running football team but they make the big plays with the play action pass. They had a couple of receivers suspended and immediately recruited an outstanding junior college player and one of the best receivers in the country from Penn State. They're solid and well coached. I have a lot of respect for who Bob Stoops is as a man and a person. He's a real good guy and treats his players right. You don't hear people gripe about their treatment at Oklahoma. Their whole department is well run."
There are a lot of clichés in football. But they all have their roots in fact. For Price and the Miners, just taking this game one play at a time is all they are looking for.
"It sounds simple, but what I'm hoping to see is for us to align properly and play with 11 players on the field all the time,” said Price. “I want to see us come off the ball all together with no offside’s penalties and know who we have to cover and what gap we're responsible for. I want to see us run our plays effectively and run in the right direction. I want us to have minimal mental errors. If we get run over, we get run over by a bigger and stronger guy. If a guy outruns us because he's faster, he outruns us. But we'd better know who has him and cover him with the right guys. I know we will play with emotion, enthusiasm, toughness and desire. I know we will run and hit. I know how excited we are. But I want to make sure we do the things that got us here, and that's basic fundamental football. If you can't block the guy, at least you're attempting to block the right guy. If you can't cover the guy, at least you know who you're supposed to cover. If we've got that right and we don't turn the football over
then we will have a chance."
The Sooners and Miners kick-off at 9:30 p.m. CDT, Saturday night.