By SCOTT BELL
LaVell Edwards and his coaching entourage have been saying it all year long: Experience can’t be manufactured, it just comes with time.
The reality of that statement was driven home with authority in Saturday’s game against the UTEP Miners.
Freshman quarterback Drew Miller started against the Miners, the first time a true freshman has ever got the nod in the Edwards’ era. Perhaps what happened next should have been expected. UTEP blitzed at every opportunity, often sending eight rushers, and Miller was ambushed.
“Basically, you have seven blockers — five lineman and two backs,” said offensive coordinator Norm Chow. “When they rush eight guys, that’s one more than you can block. That eighth guy becomes the responsibility of the quarterbacks and the receivers. Either you keep the tight end in, which now makes it eight on eight, or you release the (tight end), because now you’re releasing more guys than they can defend.
“We pride ourselves in beating the blitz. We call it a sight adjustment. A lot of times, you see the quarterback pointing. He’s pointing at the guy we can’t block. And that’s the guy we have to watch. And (UTEP) got us because we weren’t able to beat the blitz when they came with the bomb or a quick pass. Sarkisian would have eaten that up, and Drew Miller next year will eat that up.”
Injuries to the offensive line didn’t help the matter. Matt Cox and Eric Bateman played through injuries, and John Tait missed the game with a high hamstring pull. Cox and Bateman are expected to play again against Tulsa Saturday, while Tait is day to day.
FETERIK UPDATE:Kevin Feterik’s fractured ankle is healing ahead of schedule. The sophomore quarterback had an x-ray Sunday, and the results were encouraging. His rehabilitation started Monday.
Considering BYU’s dismal performance against the Miners, the quicker Feterik returns, the better.
“I’d be really surprised if he’s ready to go this weekend,” Chow said. “But, with the way we played Saturday, yeah (we’d like to have him back against Tulsa). But you know, you risk further injury, not only as far as football, but for his personal health and well-being, so you have to think about that.”
All along, coaches have been aiming at having Feterik prepared for the Nov. 14 game against New Mexico, and it looks like he should be ready.
LIFE ON TOP: The UTEP debacle was another example of WAC team’s getting up for the Cougars. For teams with losing records like the Miners, playing the high-profile Cougars is their bowl game.
UTEP got hide-strapped by Utah 56-3 in September, but came out ready to play against BYU.
“It was two different teams,” Chow said. “Everybody gears up for BYU. The played out of their minds. Their third-string running back was running like crazy.”
According to Chow, it’s easier gearing up for powerhouse opponents than staying on top against lesser WAC foes.
“Hey, that’s life on top,” Chow said. “It’s a lot tougher playing from the top than from the bottom. We love to play the Miamis’ and the Notre Dames’ because we’re playing from the bottom. We have nothing to lose, we just go out and play. Now we’re playing from the top, we’re almost holding on to our jock straps just so we don’t lose.”