Team preview: UTEP

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(All information as of June 20, 2007)


In 2004, Mike Price's first season at UTEP, the Miners jumped out to a surprising 8-2 record and found themselves in the national polls, only to close out the year with two losses.
In 2005, the 8-1 Miners returned to the national polls and all but clinched the C-USA Western Division and a home game in the conference championship game, only to lose their last three games and finish second in the division.

Last year, a UTEP team with 27 seniors and 23 players with starting experience bounced back from a 1-2 start by winning three consecutive games. Then they lost five of the last six, closing out the season with a 38-19 home loss to 2-10 Memphis.
"We finished so poorly," Price said. "At the beginning of spring ball this year I was thinking 'Boy a year ago we were really a good team.' Then in November we were horrible."

Price decided to make changes, starting with a staff realignment. Jeff Woodruff went from coaching safeties and special teams coordinator to a new role as assistant head coach working with tackles and tight ends, while former assistant head coach Lawrence Livingston will focus on centers and guards. Offensive coordinator Eric Price went from coaching tight ends to quarterbacks, while Aaron Price moved from quarterbacks to receivers. Defensive coordinator Tim Hundley took over the linebackers, Tim Duffie moved from linebackers to safeties, and Ikaika Malloe has the entire defensive line after coaching only the tackles last year. Jim Clark will continue to coach cornerbacks.
"I'll coordinate the special teams, let Eric run the offense and coach Hundley handle the defense," Mike Price said. "I think I can help the most doing that right now. I don't know if I want to do it forever, but the way we are right now -- we lost our kicker and punter -- there will have to be some emphasis there to get this thing back to where it was a year ago."

The next change involved turning up the heat under his players.