Mike Price Press Conference Ahead of LA Tech Game

El Paso, TX - Twenty-two UTEP senior football players will play their final game in the Sun Bowl as the Miners are set to host LA Tech in a 1 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 18. The senior class will be honored prior to the contest. The Miners (0-10, 0-6 Conference USA) are coming off a 45-10 loss at North Texas, while the Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4 C-USA) are coming off a 48-23 setback against Florida Atlantic on Nov. 11. UTEP junior defensive back Kahani Smith registered his second defensive touchdown of the season at North Texas and became the first Miner since 2007 to score a pair of touchdowns during a campaign. The defense has found paydirt three times this season, its most since 2005. UTEP is looking to end a four-game skid against LA Tech. The Miners and Bulldogs last played in the Sun City during the 2015 campaign. LA Tech edged UTEP, 17-15, as the Miners missed a field goal with under two minutes to play in the game. Despite the Bulldogs being under .500, they are one of five C-USA teams to average over 400 yards of total offense this season.  

[Mike Price Opening Statement]

“It was not a good trip and we didn’t play well. Another game where we started out pretty well, came in at halftime and had an opportunity to stay with [North Texas], we were close enough. I felt like at halftime we held in there, did a nice job in the first half, kept up with them – within striking distance. And then had a poor second-half performance from our defense, though our kicking game was pretty good. One of our goals, I think I mentioned here, was to give their offense a long field, and they drove 75 yards with the aide of three penalties. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot at the beginning of the third quarter. Again, our offense sputtered in second half and our timing isn’t there offensively. We’re not in a positive rhythm on offense.

 

“Change of quarterback didn’t seem to help. We made the change to go with Zack [Greenlee]. I will say that he got banged around pretty good on Saturday night, Zack did. I didn’t want to see Ryan [Metz] get into that situation. So, it opened the door for Mark Torrez to come in and get some playing time. He did some good things, but obviously needs more work. But the main thing I’m trying to do is hold this team together and keep us from splintering apart. But I didn’t see anyone quitting out there Saturday night, we just didn’t execute as well as we’re capable of.”

 

[On hosting LA Tech on Nov. 18]

“We got LA Tech rolling in here at 1p.m. on Saturday and have 22 seniors who will be honored. It will be great to be home. The weather looks good and I’m sure we’ll have a good crowd. We’re playing a good football team, coached by a good friend – Skip Holtz is a really good coach. Louisiana Tech, they’ve been solid in Conference USA. They’re a typical Conference USA team, in the fact that they are physical, they resemble North Texas offensively, they’re fast, they’re athletic and well coached. They have big play ability, both offensively and defensively. They’re struggling a bit, having lost their last two games at home.  They’ve lost three games by one point this year and are 4-6, needing two more victories in the last two games to be bowl eligible and could’ve easily won the game.

 

“Statistically, they’re kind of in the middle. They are, however, very good in turnover margin – they’re plus six, which is second in the league. Their quarterback is third in passing in total offense. They’re a quarterback oriented offense. They run the zone option and quick screens to the outsides; bubble screens and throw the ball sideways and then run at the defense. They have good running backs in number six and number three. And the quarterback’s fast, very similar to North Texas’ quarterback. His name is J’Mar Smith and he’s the leader of their team. They have a receiver, Teddy Veal, and he’s probably has twice as much receptions as anyone on their team. It’s the first time they’re coming back with all four receivers from their first game and had a couple guys hurt. They’re averaging over 400 yards of total offense and are a typical Conference USA club – fast, quick, well coached and move the ball up the field.

 

“Defensively, they run a 4-3 defense but they play five defensive backs. Again, this is about the third time that the defense is using three safeties, two linebackers and they’re a four-man front. They’re leading linebacker, no. 33, got hurt in the game. I don’t know if he’ll be able to play this week. Their leading tackler is a safety, no. 2 and he also plays linebacker for them. They’re not a blitz-o-matic team like we’ve seen, but they do blitz. They have an outstanding cornerback, no. 21, he’s a freshman and very good. He looks to be their best defender. They also lead in fewest penalties. So, it will be an interesting game on Saturday. Should be lots of action on both sides of field.”

 

[On the quarterback situation for Saturday’s game vs. LA Tech]

“I’m thinking about what we’re going to do about the quarterback situation. Right now, I would say it will probably be similar the way it was in the game. However, it depends on Ryan Metz and see how he feels. But we’ll see how it goes in practice. It will be a real battle at the quarterback position if Ryan is healthy.”

 

[On keeping the team together and not letting it splinter]

“I think you just have to put your foot down and catch it if you see it. We need to be supportive of one another and be positive. The other aspect that is really important is this coaching staff for five years now, have recruited all these kids have done a great job. These kids have a great reputation as far as APR, grades, how kids perform in class and how kids perform off the field socially. We only have two more weeks and I would hate to see anything happen that would take away for what they worked so hard to accomplish. That’s this team’s reputation on campus and in the community. It’s a good group of young men who go to class, are good students and have good moral in character.”

 

[On the future of the program and what you think needs to happen]

“What needs to happen is they’re going to replace me in two weeks. It’s going to be a refreshing change in the athletic department and the football program. That happens in a growth of a program – you have highs and lows.”

 

[On turning a two-win team into an eight-win team in back-to-back seasons; the amount of time it will take the new coach to turn the football program around]

“I haven’t looked at the schedule. I don’t know who the head coach will be, how he’s going to do it. It all depends on who UTEP hires. Is he a scoring genius who throws the ball around and averages 50 points a game? Then it could happen right away. If it’s a guy who wants to build a program from grass roots up, it’s going to take a little longer. Because we still have a lot of players on scholarship here, so he’s not going to have too many scholarships to give out when recruiting players.”


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