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Slumping Aztecs Try to Get Back in Step Against UTEP

November 16, 1985|STEVE DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — If you think San Diego State is having its problems in football, consider the plight of the Aztecs' opponent tonight, the University of Texas El Paso.

UTEP has not had a winning season since 1970 and it has lost 111 of its last 126 games.

Things were once so bad that Coach Bill Yung chewed out his players in a meeting for "refusing" to wear their lettermen's jackets on campus.

"Coach," one player shouted. "We don't have any lettermen's jackets."

That was in 1982, when Yung took over as coach. And as Yung still often says, "You couldn't take anything for granted here."

There are signs, however, that things are beginning to change. After all, the Miners did pull off the upset of the 1985 college football season by beating Brigham Young, 23-16, three weeks ago.

Since beating BYU, though, the Miners have returned to form. They lost to New Mexico, 26-23, accounting for the Lobos' first Western Athletic Conference win in 11 games. And, last week, UTEP lost to Hawaii, 23-7.

"I have never fought so many distractions in my life as after the BYU game," Yung said. "We were getting calls from newspapers everywhere.

"When the kids walked on the field for the New Mexico game, you knew something was missing. We wanted to use the BYU game as a stepping stone. Some people wanted to make it something to put on a shelf."

According to Yung, El Paso residents have been calling the BYU upset a fluke. Yung has been trying to persuade his players it was more than that.

"We've had pro scouts come through who have pointed out how improved our talent and ability is," Yung said. "We played SMU tough this year until the fourth quarter (in a 35-23 loss). We couldn't have done it a few years ago."

Concerning tonight's game, UTEP needs only to remember last year's score to get fired up. The Miners were embarrassed by SDSU, 51-2.

"They humiliated us by throwing a pass on the last play," Yung said. "I still remember the humility in the locker room from that."

SDSU has learned plenty about humility in 1985. The Aztecs have five straight losses and will suffer their third consecutive losing season unless they win their final three games.

Although the Aztecs are 25-point favorites tonight, Coach Doug Scovil said they will not be overlooking the Miners.

"All I need to do is show our players the BYU-UTEP game films," Scovil said. "BYU had four interceptions and lost three fumbles. It just goes to show you what turnovers can do."

SDSU has learned that lesson all too well in the past three weeks.

Aztec Notes

Casey Brown and Chris Hardy, who will be SDSU's running backs tonight, had big games against UTEP last year. Brown scored a career-high four touchdowns and Hardy rushed 13 times for 130 yards. The Aztecs rushed for 296 yards on the evening. "You have to be able to run against UTEP," Doug Scovil said. "If we get second-and-10 or third-and-10, I expect to see them use a two-man rush like they did against BYU.". . .Todd Santos needs to pass for 233 yards tonight to move into fourth-place on SDSU's all-time yardage list. Santos is seventh all-time. . .Webster Slaughter has 64 receptions on the season, needing seven more to move into fifth-place on SDSU's single-season list. With eight more receptions, Slaughter would move into sixth-place on the all-time career list. . .Vince Warren needs 72 receiving yards to move into fifth-place on SDSU's all-time list. . .Chris O'Brien has succeeded on 20 straight field-goal attempts, 10 shy of the NCAA record. . .The Aztecs have averaged 506 yards total offense in five home games, yet are only 3-2 at home. . .SDSU has a 9-1 career record against UTEP. The Aztecs lost in 1978 at El Paso, 31-24, in their first-ever WAC game. . .John Harvey, UTEP's leading rusher, will not play tonight because of a knee injury suffered last week.

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