Battle of I-10 Preview


Daniel Lopez, Staff Reporter

The Miners are back in action Aug. 28 against New Mexico State University. NMSU is coming off a short off-season after cancelling their season last year due to COVID-19 and opted to play in the spring. 

The battle of I-10 has been a long-lasting rival between the two schools, starting in 1915 with NMSU beating UTEP 14-0. While the Aggies won the match up in 2019, the Miners currently lead the series 57-38-2. “There’s excitement in this game. How could you not be excited about this game? Like I’ve said, this is our rivalry game, so there’s great excitement for them,” said coach Dana Dimel in an Aug. 23 press conference. “We have a lot of guys on our roster that weren’t here the last time we played New Mexico State. A lot of our top players were younger players at that time, so there’s a good group of guys who have just never lined up on our team with the additional talented offensive and defensive players we’ve brought into our program.” NMSU finished last season 1-1, beating Dixie State University with a final score of 36-29 and losing to Tarleton State University 17-43. Against New Mexico Highlands University, there was a no contest. 

This year, five Aggies will be named to Phil Steel All Independent Teams. The five key players are transfer center Eric Johnson, redshirt junior Trevor Brohard, redshirt junior O’Maury Samuels, redshirt senior Sage Doxtater and redshirt freshman Juwan Price. 

“We have a really talented team in 2021, as is evident by the five All-Independent selections we received,” said head coach Doug Martin in an interview provided by NMSU athletics. “But I also feel that we have five or six more guys that people have yet to see that are capable of this honor after the season.”Last season, the Aggies offense scored 26.6 points per game and rushed for 447 yards in the spring. The key players to watch for in this match up are Johnson and Samuels who were major contributors to their offensive averages.The Aggiesdefense allowed 36 points and 312 yards in the three games played. The key defender returning this season is Brohard. In 2019, he finished the season with 13 total tackles, logging a season-high seven in the season opener at #23 Washington State. Their defense looks to cause disruption to the Miners offense. 

As for the Miners, they returned with an improved offense last season led by quarterback redshirt junior Gavin Hardison, wide receiver sophomore Jacob Cowing and redshirt junior offensive lineman Bobby Deharo. The offense last season averaged 348.1 yards per game and averaged 5.17 yards per play. However, they ranked 101 just in front of the University of Tennessee Volunteers.   

UTEP also returns most of its starting defense that ranked 46th overall last year under a new coach and defensive coordinator Bradley Peveto.  Starting defensive end Praise Amawhule and starting senior cornerback Dv’yonne Innang are key pieces to the defense that guided the unit to a top 50 defense with both being named on the C-USA preseason watch list. 

Dimel said he’d like to see multiple looks and various fronts on defense.” 

The Miners face the Aggies at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 28, at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, NM. 

Daniel Lopez can be reached at [email protected]