Miners need to find where they stand before facing UTSA


Priscilla Gomez

UTEP football head coach Dana Dimel walks his team out of the MIne Shaft before they First Light Credit Union Battle of I-10 against NMSU, on Saturday Sept. 22nd.

Adrian Broaddus, Web Editor

In the midst of a 16-game losing streak and an 0-4 start to the season, the UTEP football team is relying on pure desperation and faith in order to secure their first win going into conference play.

UTEP joins UCLA (0-3), Nebraska (0-3) and San Jose State (0-3) as the only four programs in the FBS without a win.

After their 27-20 loss to NMSU in the 96th annual Battle of I-10, first-year head coach Dana Dimel sought the positives with the team instead of reaping the negatives.

“I said every week you’ll find improvement in this football team, and tonight they (NMSU) had one of their starters back who has been out all year at the defensive end position,” Dimel said.  “They’ve got a good defensive football team and we played pretty well against them offensively. We just need to finish better.”

Aside from their inability to finish games, the Miners have also struggled at the start of games. They haven’t scored first, or led in a game since last year against Western Kentucky on Oct. 7, when they led briefly, 14-12, before the Hilltoppers took the lead and eventually won the game, 15-14.

Although the Miners improved through the air against NMSU on Saturday, they took a step back by turning the ball over three times, missing two opportunities to score in the red zone and falling short on defensive assignments.

So, before moving onto the Roadrunners  (1-3) for their first game of the C-USA slate, the Miners need to fix their problems, which appear to be repetitive and find their identity.

“It’s a culture thing and it starts with practice,” said junior quarterback Kai Locksley, following his 10-for-16 for 194 yards through the air game performance against NMSU. “We gotta practice harder. We gotta practice smarter. We gotta practice more efficiently.”

“I feel when you do all the little things,” Locksley added. “It makes the game much easier. You have those silly, silly turnovers and we’re not in the position to be making those.”

So where do the Miners start?

Do they first try and clean up the offensive line, which is without junior right tackle Jerrod Brooks, who could be out for the rest of the season from an injury sustained against NMSU?

Or do they try and continue to game plan around Locksley and rely on his mobility to gain them yards through the air and on the ground? Locksley finished the day with 64 rushing yards and would have had 114 had he not been sacked nine times for a total loss of 50 yards.

Or do the Miners take the defensive alternative, clean up their secondary from making fundamental mistakes and try to generate more of a pass rush, with the hopes that it can be enough for the team to get a win?

At this point, Dimel and his staff are probably asking themselves these questions, along with plenty more.

Scouting UTSA

UTSA got their first win of the season last weekend, as they beat out Texas State 25-21 in the I-35 Showdown. Junior linebacker Josiah Tauaefa contributed with nine tackles and 2.5 sacks for UTSA, who held Texas State to 248 yards of total offense and only 26 yards on the ground.

Their running back tandem of sophomore B.J. Daniels and senior Jalen Rhodes has been the anchor of their offense this season. Daniels has picked up 202 yards on the ground and has two rushing touchdowns, while Rhodes has 168 yards this year. Junior quarterback Cordale Grundy has helped them through the air, averaging 144 yards through the air and has three passing touchdowns this season.

The Miners and Roadrunners will square off on Saturday, Sept. 29, starting at 5 p.m. MT. in San Antonio, Tx at the Alamodome.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected]