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Miners eye offense as key for turnaround in 2018

Sergio Muñoz
The Miners kickoff the 2018 season at home against Northern Arizona on Sept. 1.

The Miners are currently midway into their spring season and about five months away from their first game under new head coach Dana Dimel.

Coming off a winless 2017 season, Dimel’s focus will be set on improving all three units.

The biggest concern for football last season was the lack of offense. The Miners ranked last in FBS for offensive efficiency, which will be their main focus during the spring.

“Offense is obviously an area of emphasis for us. I feel like we’re progressing very well,” Dimel said.

Last season, the Miners ran primarily under center and operated on a run-first approach. Offensive coordinator Mike Canales and Dimel have already opened up the offense with a spread offense and are giving off more of a balanced attack.

“We’re throwing in a lot of offense and expanding it,” Dimel said. “We have a very expansive offensive package and I think the guys are doing a great job.”

Canales and his core group will be very adamant about scoring this season, especially while facing some quality Conference USA offenses.

“The offense is looking great so far and it’s a very flexible offense, and it puts a lot of guys in the right positions to succeed,” said junior tight end Josh Weeks.

Weeks is a 6-foot-3, 250-pound tight end who looks to bring major contributions to the team this season. He is coming off a sophomore season, where he missed most games due to an injury, but did haul six receptions for 68 yards with one touchdown.

“The offense this year is really working towards our strengths, unlike last year I feel like we were kind of put into a mold and we had a lot of weapons that we could of utilized, but we didn’t,” Weeks said. “As a team, our goal is to win six games and make a bowl game, that’s the standard. As for myself, I’m just going to do what I can to contribute to that and whatever that may be, whether it’s blocking, catching, scoring touchdowns.”

Another area of concern for the team this spring has been the quarterback battle. At the position, UTEP will have senior Ryan Metz, junior JUCO transfer Kai Locksley, sophomore Mark Torrez, freshman Calvin Brownholtz and redshirt freshmen Alex Fernandes.

“I think the competition is really good there and for us we try to bring each quarterback that we have along in the system,” Dimel said. “Obviously you have your top one, two and three quarterbacks as you move forward, but really we’re trying to develop all five of them and we have one in each class right now and they’re all showing progress everyday.”

Metz, the Andress High School graduate, is coming off an injury-plagued season, while Locksley comes in as the JUCO Offensive Player of the Year from Iowa Western Community College.

The team will finish off the spring with their annual spring game, taking place at the Sun Bowl on April 13 at 7 p.m.

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Miners eye offense as key for turnaround in 2018