Friday, October 1, 1999
is always tough
The Miners have fared well,By Paul Arnett
with seven wins in 16
trips to Hawaii.
While Texas-El Paso doesn't list Hawaii as its chief rival and the Rainbows don't circle in red the weekend the Miners come to town, this is always a very physical football game.
Over the years, the Miners have played well in Hawaii, winning seven of 16. In 1980, UTEP finished 1-11. The only win? A 34-14 shellacking of the Rainbows at Aloha Stadium.
"I remember (former UH head coach) Dick (Tomey) talking about that game," June Jones said after yesterday's practice. "I've talked with our medical staff and they say both teams always play hard in this game."
UTEP comes to town with a 2-2 record. The Miners have knocked off New Mexico and New Mexico State, and have lost at Oregon and Kansas State.
This is the first conference game for the Miners. Head coach Charlie Bailey believes UTEP is ready to compete for the Western Athletic Conference championship, but to do that, the Miners need a win here tomorrow night.
OFFENSEHawaii's offense is facing the toughest defense since the opener with Southern California.
The Miners are not only led by all-everything defensive lineman Brian Young, but have a talented linebacker in Robert Weathers, and two good cornerbacks in Nick Salinas and Crance Clemons.
"I heard a report that UTEP's secondary wasn't that good, but I don't believe it," Jones said. "On film, they have some good cover guys in their secondary.
"UTEP will line up in a base 3-4 set, but they go to a 4-3 a lot of the time. We've seen a couple of snaps of the 3-4 this year, but we haven't had a steady diet of it.
"Our guys practice against it when our defense is in the nickel package, so we should be fine."
UTEP likes to mix up their coverages. At times, free safety Derek Walker can appear to be a linebacker and linebacker Camar Jackson will drop off into coverage.
"We need to keep Brian Young from being a factor up front," Jones said of the defensive end, who was first team All-WAC last year.
Jones would like to get the running game in gear and wants to avoid all the three-and-outs that have plagued the team through the first four games.
DEFENSEThough Greg McMackin missed most of the week because of high blood pressure, the defensive coordinator is well aware of the offensive prowess of UTEP.
The return of Elzie Johnson at running back and the play of tailback Paul Smith have kept McMackin busy designing schemes to handle the running phase of the Miners.
UTEP employs a platoon system at quarterback with Rocky Perez and Jay Stuckey sharing equal time. Both are also quite capable of running the football, which gives McMackin a reason to pause.
"They do a lot of things out of a variety of formations with good skill people," McMackin said.
"That Paul Smith is an excellent running back, and both quarterbacks can pull it down and run if they have to.
Smith is third in the league in rushing with 488 yards on 96 carries and five touchdowns.
"And they also throw the ball pretty well," McMackin said. "A lot of their passing is set up off of play-action. You have to respect the run with these guys."
The primary targets for Perez and Stuckey are wideout Lee Mays and first team All-WAC tight end Brian Natkin. Mays only had three receptions in the win over New Mexico State, but two were for touchdowns. He finished with 104 yards in receptions.
Ka Leo O Hawaii