Everyone was excited and pumped about the new era and rightfully so, but last night was a rude reminder of how far we are from being a good football team (No discredit to Northern Arizona who came to the Sun Bowl and kicked axe).
The start of the game could be summed up like this for Miner fans….. D E J A – V U. Two runs on the first two plays that left the Miners with a 3rd down and then a Ryan Metz interception that led to a NAU touchdown, four minutes into the season.
Metz only lasted two series (six plays & nine yards) before Kai Locksley made his debut in a Miners uniform. Locksley got the Miners first 1st down of the season before Winston Dimel fumbled a 3rd down pass. NAU recovered and ended up taking a 10-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.
The UTEP defense settled in nicely after that opening touchdown by NAU. In the ensuing four drives the Miners held NAU to only 43 yards on 17 plays. The bad part? The Miners could only muster 63 yards on 5 drives.
The one big mistake the UTEP defense had in the 1st half was on a 84 yard touchdown pass by NAU that gave them the 17-0 lead with 5 mins left in the half.
Locksley immediately led the Miners down the field on the next drive that was capped by a 32 yard TD run by Quardraiz Wadley. All of a sudden the Miners had some life.
The defense responded with a three and out and Kai had the Miners driving inside the red zone with under a minute remaining in the half. The Miners were at the NAU six yard line before a pre snap penalty stalled the drive and had to settle for a field goal.
Miners went to the half down 17-10 but it seemed like big Mo was back on the Miners side.
Not for long.
NAU opened the 2nd half with a 11 play 75 yard touchdown drive. And that was basically all she wrote.
The UTEP defense kept fighting only giving up 55 yards in the next five possessions and even forcing a turnover on a Kalon Beverly interception in the 3rd quarter.
The offense was a different story. The Miners were only able to gain a total of 22 yards in the 2nd half and gave up 5 sacks. NAU scored on one more possession that come off an interception of Locksley that gave the Lumberjacks the 30-10 victory.
Obviously the Miners have a ton of work to do but what are some of the biggest takeaways from last nights game?
- Kai Locksley can ball but does he have enough help? The offensive line was downright terrible and the receivers only combined for a total of 37 yards. Locksley and Wadley seemed to be the only spark.
- Pre-snap penalties: Miner G.O.A.T. Columnist Alex Nicolas pointed this out on the twitter world. The Miners had 4 pre snap penalties that followed either change of possession or a timeout.
- The defense showed flashes of being really good. AJ Hotchkins was a great addition to the roster tallying 13 tackles for the game. Take away that long Touchdown pass and they only gave up 234 yards for the game.
- Turnovers. UTEP had three turnovers that led to 17 points for Northern Arizona.
- As good as Locksley was he carried the ball 18 times compared to only 13 times for four running backs. Look for teams to stack the box and make the WR’s make plays.
And for now, the 13 game losing streak continues. The Miners visit UNLV next Saturday with kickoff set at 7:00 PM.