The Oklahoma Sooners host the UTEP Miners on Saturday in the season opener. With a 99.5% chance of winning the bout, Lincoln Riley’s defense has a few question marks lingering in the shadows. Athletes are certainly lurking all over the field but for the crimson and cream. However, they’ll have to contend with a strong front from UTEP.
There’s no denying the the Miners possess a talented and experienced offensive line. Expected to pave the way for the rushing attack, All-American Will Hernandez sets the pace physically. Standing 6-3 330-pounds, the lineman is a sledgehammer in the middle opening up gaps and running lanes for the backs. In 2016, Aaron Jones amassed 1,773 yards for 7.7 yards per carry. Although UTEP is without Jones and currently restocking the stable of running backs, the group is expected to produce at a high level throughout the season.
If the running game stalls out, the Miners will rely on quarterback Ryan Metz. Growing in command of the offense throughout the offseason, Metz earned the starting job. Throwing a mere 201 time in 2016, the signal caller displayed a level of decision making that scored 14 touchdowns to four interceptions. Returning a majority of the production from the receiving corps, Metz has plenty of targets. Yet, the Miners continue to wait for a big-play threat.
Posting a 4-8 record a year ago, there’s much room for improvement. Unfortunately, it’s a tall task asking for a win against a top ten program to start the season.