Traditionally, the bye-week is an opportunity for teams to heal up mid-season with the hopes of returning long-injured players. Unfortunately, it did not play out that way for the Blue Raiders this season.
The Blue Raiders and their fans have long awaited the return of quarterback Brent Stockstill since his injury late against Syracuse. Stockstill said he was hopeful to return this week in a sideline interview on ESPN, but he remains a game-time decision this week.
To add to MT’s injury woes, Richie James was lost for the season when he broke his collarbone against Marshall, and now John Urzua is calling it quits on his career.
Reports came in Wednesday that Urzua had suffered a concussion in the third quarter against Marshall. It was his third concussion dating back to 2013, so Urzua took the advice of his doctors and chose to not risk his health any further.
So, the Blue Raiders find themselves in a tough spot this Saturday. The last thing coach Rick Stockstill wants to do is rush the younger Stockstill back from his injury, which likely means Kyle Banks will be the starter. Banks, a redshirt freshman, has seen limited time this season. He played late against Minnesota and Marshall and has completed six of his 11 attempts, but those games were out-of-hand before Banks took the field.
“He’s been out there, but until you do it when the game is on the line, you won’t really know,” said Rick Stockstill.
If there is one game this season that Blue Raider fans should feel comfortable about a third-string quarterback getting the start, it’s this one.
UTEP comes into this game 0–8 despite having one of the lowest rated schedules in the country. The Miners have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 67 percent of their passes. They also have allowed nearly 230 yards rushing per game, which means Banks should be able to rely on the capable legs of Brad Anderson.
Though the Miners are still searching for their first win, the Blue Raiders goal through the week has been to stay focused, and not to overlook what is right in front of them. With the so many key injuries MT is certainly susceptible to fall to a hungry UTEP team.
“We can’t overlook anybody. We’re not good enough to overlook anybody. And that’s what I told our team,” Rick Stockstill stated. “We won three games and they haven’t won any. So it doesn’t matter, you can look at records of anybody in any conference you play, anybody can beat anybody.”
The Blue Raiders will look to end their two-game skid Saturday, Nov. 4, at Floyd Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.