Crystal Ball: Miners Go To Bowl If Price at His Best
by Ray Sanchez
Okay, okay, I’ll do it.
With the opening of the UTEP football season three weeks away some readers have been asking for my crystal ball’s prediction. Frankly, I try to put it off as long as I can. As followers of this column know, my crystal ball is an obnoxious sort. Not only does it have a nasty temper, it brags when it’s right and makes excuses when it’s not.
But, alas, duty calls and so I took it out of its drawer, held my nose and asked how it thought the Miners would do this season.
“IT’S ABOUT TIME you came around,” it snarled. I wanted to get it over quickly so I just gulped and kept quiet.
“Well, let’s see,” it went on. “The Miners have a super quarterback in Trevor Vittatoe, which is a darn good start for any team. There are plenty of returnees from last year and both the offensive and defensive lines should be better. Not only that, there seems to be more depth. And the running backs are promising."
The schedule bothers me a bit. There are two losses already almost guaranteed. Those are against Kansas on September 12 and Texas on Sept. 28. The Miners will be stepping out of their class in those two.
“STILL, UTEP will be playing 12 games, which leaves 10 games with a chance. Can they win six and make a bowl game? It’s all up to Coach Mike Price.” The crystal ball saw me wince. “Now don’t go into a dither,” it said. “I know you love Price. I love him too. Heck, everybody loves him. He’s probably one of the most beloved coaches ever at UTEP. I rank him up there with Mike Brumbelow in that respect."
But I don’t think we’ve seen him at his best yet at UTEP. After all, he was once national Coach of the Year at Washington.
"LOOK, THIS will be Price’s sixth year at the helm. He did okay his first two years at UTEP and took the Miners to bowl games. But the last three years have been pretty awful. Some people are even saying he won at first with the previous coach’s players."
“This year’s team is now completely his. All the players on the team were recruited by him. He has a topnotch quarterback, experience, depth. There’s no more room for excuses. This is it. It’s time for Coach Price to produce.
“And I think he will. Frankly, I think he must.”
I HAD BEGUN to get mad but I cooled down. “So?” I asked. “How will the Miners do?”
The crystal ball straightened up, cleared its throat and made its prediction. It said, “The Miners will win at least six of the 10 games in which they have a chance and make a Bowl."
“It won’t be easy. Yes, the Miners should be improved but all the pre-season hype doesn’t mean a thing. Other teams in the conference are loading up, too. The Miners must prove themselves on the field. And so must the coaching. The Miners need Price at his best."
"FRANKLY, I’M a bit excited about the coming season. The Miners should get away with a win in the opener at home against Buffalo. They’ll lose at home against Kansas but then they’ll beat those rival New Mexico Aggies on September 19 in Las Cruces."
“They’ll lose at Texas but they’ll go into the meat of the conference schedule with a 2-2 record. They should break at least even in the remaining eight games.”
THE CRYSTAL ball seemed drained with all the talk. “Now can I go back into my drawer?” it asked meekly. “I’m tired.”
I quickly picked it up and shoved it back in its drawer.
Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com