4) NO MORE MATADOR: Porous defenses became a hallmark under Price, and one of the reasons he had seven straight losing seasons. The Miners have allowed at least 440 total yards in five of the past six seasons, starting with a school-record 505 per game in 2007. Kugler is trying something a little different in an effort to turn things around this time, hiring defensive coordinator Scott Stoker from Sam Houston State after he was part of two straight trips to the title game in the Championship Subdivision. The question is what kind of personnel Stoker will have for an attacking style that brings pressure and relies on man-to-man coverage. Safety Richard Spencer is probably UTEP's best defensive player, but is struggling to get back from a knee injury that sidelined him most of last year. Linebacker A.J. Ropati is the only returner among the top seven tacklers from last season.
5) TOP RUSHER AND RECEIVER: Showers should have some help on offense because the Miners are returning their most productive running back and receiver from last year. Nathan Jeffery had 897 yards, including 177 against Oklahoma, and seven touchdowns. Jordan Leslie led UTEP in catches (51), receiving yards (973) and yards per catch (19.1). Both are juniors. Freshman tailback Aaron Jones, who went to high school in El Paso, also drew some attention during a 12-day preseason camp.
Predicted finish: Fourth place in the West Division.