STOP THE RUN
UTEP’s running back Aaron Jones is the nation’s leading rusher after Week 1.
After coming off an ankle injury that kept him out for most of the 2015 season, the junior racked up 249 rushing yards on 31 attempts and two touchdowns last week in UTEP’s 38-22 win over New Mexico State. Jones’ first touchdown was from 37-yards out in the first quarter to get the ball rolling for UTEP, and his second was a 75-yard run late in the game to seal the deal for the Miners. His ability to run the ball with poise and obtain big numbers will make him a threat to defenders all season for UTEP. To stop the run, Texas’ defensive unit needs to be quick and punishing.
UTEP has been ranked among the nation’s best for time of possession the past few seasons, so the Longhorns need to control the tempo of the game like they did against Notre Dame and limit the Miners’ time on offense. Because the Miners have a sturdy run game, they excel at extending drives and converting on third down.
AVOID A NOTRE DAME HANGOVER
Texas needs to come out with the same liveliness and confidence they had against Notre Dame, although the stage won’t be nearly as big against UTEP. The energy has been soaring in Austin all week coming off a thrilling double overtime win and landing a spot in the AP poll for the first time since 2012.
Head coach Charlie Strong said in his weekly press conference that this season can’t be a “one-night wonder.”
The Longhorns had a few days to bask in the glory of a statement victory and arguably the biggest victory of the Charlie Strong era. But Texas needs to keep the momentum rolling and not stay stuck in this past weekend. This game is the perfect opportunity for Texas to fix the little things they struggled with against Notre Dame, including a few botched snaps and a blocked extra point runback that led to two points the other way.
DEFENSE NEEDS TO MAINTAIN ENERGY
Texas’ defense proved it has improved since last season, but the unit needs to maintain endurance and efficiency until the clock hits zero. Texas’ defense started off hot in the first half against Notre Dame, holding the Irish to only two scores. But the unit appeared a little slow in the second half, allowing Notre Dame to come back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime. UTEP has an efficient offense, so the Longhorns need to stay energized and get stops down the stretch to give the offense some comfort.