Stock Up, Stock Down Following UTEP’s Upset Win Over Boise State
UTEP football completed its 27-10 upset win over Boise State on a beautiful Friday night in the Sun Bowl. The Miners, in my opinion, played their best football of the season. In this week's edition of Stock Up, Stock Down, we’ll look at the best and worst performances in the Miners' upset win. If the player had a good game, they earned a stock up, and if a player had a bad game, they earn a stock down.
Offensive play calling/Dana Dimel: Stock Up
After back-to-back weeks with a stock down, the play calling improved tremendously and was a key part in the Miners pulling off the upset. The Miner run game was unmatched, totaling 199 yards on the ground. After abandoning the run game early against UNM, UTEP stuck with it throughout the game, and it worked out perfectly for them. The Broncos could not stop the Miner run game later in the game. Just like Dana Dimel said in his press conference, Boise knew UTEP was going to run it, but it did not matter. They did not force passes downfield at all, and they made Hardison’s job simple and easy.
Instead of trying to make Hardison a gunslinger, they simplified his job and turned him into a very good game manager. Hardison came into the game completing under 50% of his passes, but he finished this game 10-of-11 with 123 yards and a touchdown. He made the right decisions at the right time. The play calls were simple and effective, and instead of trying to be something they aren’t, UTEP played to its strengths. If the Miners can get this type of production from their offense every game, then watch out.
RB Deion Hankins: Stock Up
Throughout the season, fans have been waiting for Hankins to have a breakout game. Prior to this game, the former Parkland Matador had put up only 79 yards on 25 attempts. Early in the game, Hankins only saw a few carries and it looked like he wouldn’t get much more. However, his workload increased throughout the game and his bruising running style helped propel the Miners through the 4th quarter. He was a big part of the Miners' second half drives.
Although his numbers aren’t the most eye-popping, his 21 carries for 87 yards were an instrumental part in the Miners winning. He made several great plays, including a big run on 3rd and 8 to put the Miners into field goal position in the third quarter. Hankins has momentum and if the Miners can get both Awatt and Hankins playing at this level each game, then opposing defenses may be in trouble.
WR Tyrin Smith: Stock Down
Tyrin Smith came into this game leading the conference in both receptions and yards, but he was held to only 2 catches for 25 yards. Now, Smith didn’t have a bad performance necessarily and he was used as a decoy, which helped others get involved, but his stock is going down because of the way the miners are running their offense now. If the Miners stick to this short pass, run-heavy offense that they ran against Boise, then expect Smith’s usage to go down. His numbers were so high because of how good of a deep threat he is. Now that it looks like the Miners aren’t going to go deep as much, Smith will need to find a new role if he wants to continue to put up those eye-popping numbers that he previously was.
The entire defensive line: Stock Up
The entire UTEP defensive line had a fun day. Coming into this one, the defensive line had only totaled 2 quarterback hurries. They finished this one with 10 QB hurries from the defensive line. The two stars in Praise Amaewhule and Keenan Stewart both led the Miners with 3 hurries, respectively. It's great to see both players have a day like this. Despite not sacking Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier, those who watched the game knew that UTEP made it an extremely rough day for him and were a leading factor for Bachmeier’s 13-of-34 for a 93-yard performance.
WR Kelly Akharaiyi: Stock Down
The former JUCO transfer came into the year with lofty expectations, and many thought he could be the best receiver on the roster. Unfortunately for the 6'1 sophomore, he hasn’t made much of a difference these past few games. After combining seven receptions in the first two games of the season, he has only had three catches in the last three games. In addition to this, Akharaiyi had started the first four games of the season, but Dimel elected for the 6'4 freshman Jeremiah Ballard to start this game, who may have locked up that spot for at least another week following his performance. It hasn’t been a great start for Akharaiyi, but as the season progresses, he will have a chance to step it up and break out.
LB Cal Wallerstedt: Stock Up
This is starting to sound like a broken record. Cal Wallerstedt continues to shock Miner fans and put-up great numbers. He led the Miners in tackles against the Broncos with nine, along with an assisted tackle for loss and even had a pass breakup. Wallerstedt has played like the MVP of this Miner defense that is finally finding its identity. Wallerstedt started his first game just a few weeks ago, but he is already leading the team in sacks and tackles for losses. It's been a rather meteoric rise for a guy who was the fourth string linebacker coming into the season.
The entire offensive line: Stock Up
You know you had a good game when both your offensive and defensive line got a Stock Up. The Miners had a rough start to the season offensively. It felt like the Miners couldn’t effectively block for the run and pass block. With the pressure mounting on the offense, the big guys up front made a statement. Not only did they open up holes in the running game, but they also had a clean sheet and didn’t give up a single sack. It felt like as the game went on, the offensive line got stronger. During the last touchdown drive that lasted over 9 minutes, the Miners ran the ball very efficiently and the Boise State defensive line dominated up front.
WR/PR Marcus Bellon
For the sixth and final Stock Up, I went with the no-brainer choice. When UTEP recruited Bellon, they hoped the former JUCO standout would elevate a bad punt return game that averaged only 5 yards per return and ranked among the worst in college football. However, through the first three games of the season, Bellon had already muffed a punt and had minus-5 yards in 5 returns. It looked like the Miners once again would struggle returning punts. With things looking bleak, Bellon had a few nice returns against UNM and gave fans some hope. Against Boise State, everything clicked for the sophomore. His first return went for a solid 10 yards, but in his second return, he did something Miner fans hadn’t seen in seemingly forever. With Boise State backed up into their endzone and having to punt, Bellon took a line drive punt from the 47 to the house. This gave UTEP all the momentum and gave them a 10-point lead late in the 4th quarter. Bellon had a game-changing play and helped propel the Miners to the upset. The sky is the limit for the 5’9 receiver.
Almost Stock Up
WR Jeremiah Ballard
WR Rey Flores
CB Illijah Johnson
The Bottom Line
The Miners pulled off an unexpected upset against powerhouse Boise State Friday. Many fans believe that it was a season-saving win. I also agree with that. This can be a win that puts life not only into the fanbase but the team themselves. Can the Miners capitalize on this upset win over Boise State? Or was it just a fluke?