This item originally appeared in the October 21, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By KYLE ROBERTS
Associate Sports Editor
For the Bulldogs, the 2004 Homecoming game against the University of Texas-El Paso Miners could prove to be more difficult than some imagine.
"UTEP to me is one of the most improved teams in the [Western Athletic Conference] right now," head coach Jack Bicknell III said.
"They've basically blown out the University of Hawaii and beat Fresno State in back-to-back weeks, so we're preparing for a challenge."
The Miners come to Ruston with a 4-2 overall record and a 2-1 WAC record after dominating former powerhouse Hawaii in El Paso with a final score of 51-20.
"I feel like we're confident, but we also understand what we're up against," Bicknell said. "They are a much improved football team that has played very well in this 2004 season and are one of the better teams in the conference without a doubt."
UTEP has not had a very good history playing the Bulldogs as Saturday's match-up will be the fourth since 2001, and Tech has won all three with last year's being the closest at 38-35.
This year the Miners are off to a better start than most thought, and Bicknell attributed that to a good passing offense from sophomore quarterback Jordan Palmer, a good running back in senior Howard Jackson and a stingy defense. Palmer has thrown for 1,171 yards and eight touchdowns in six games, and Jackson has run for 632 yards and six touchdowns.
"Palmer is playing extremely well," Bicknell said.
"They also have a good running back that hurt us last year and a defense that is playing hard and constantly attacking you. They've got a good tandem of quarterback and tailback that could cause some problems."
Bicknell also said that even with the way UTEP is playing, he believes his Bulldogs are better.
"Regardless of how big a challenge it may be," Bicknell said, "I think we have the better team. We're going to keep doing what we've been doing, and hopefully, that will be good enough."