Miners plan to expand the run game in Charlotte


Alberto Silva Fernandez

The UTEP Miners football team will play the University of North Carolina at Charlotte at 4 p.m. Oct. 1.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Sports Editor

After the massive win over Boise State University Broncos (2-2, 1-0 Mountain West), the University of Texas at El Paso Miners (2-3, 0-1 Conference USA) head to Charlotte, North Carolina to face the University of North Carolina at Charlotte 49ers (1-4, 0-1 Conference USA). 

The 49ers come into this match up having only beaten the Georgia State Panthers (0-3, Sunbelt 0-0) in a close game with a score of 42-41. Charlotte has been outscored on average 24 points per game (PPG) versus their opponent’s score of 47.4 PPG. The 49ers defense has allowed 246.4 rushing yards per game and 306.4 passing yards per game this season. 

All these statistics favor the Miners. In its past five games, UTEP has rushed for an average of 99 yards per game and 321.2 passing yards per game. In its game against BSU, the Miners outscored the Broncos 27-10, beating Charlotte’s average PPG. 

For the Miners offense, it is critical that they continue to develop the run game. Against BSU, the rushing game combined for a total of 199 yards. Given Charlotte’s track record against the run, relying on the running attack will be the simplest way to leave North Carolina with a loss. If the offensive scheme focuses exclusively on the run, the Miners can run for well over 250 yards. 

“We ran the ball probably better in this game against Boise State than we did any time last year. But we do want to run the football and so when we can, we will,” said UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel in a Monday press conference. “The best thing for us to do this year is just run the ball more and control the clock more and do the things that we did Friday.” 

Against BSU, the defense stepped up by only allowing 177 total offensive yards. UTEP’s secondary had a total of 7 pass breakups versus BSU and 44 total tackles.  

“When you score points, it puts pressure on the (opposing) defenses, it puts pressure on the (opposing) offenses to try to do more aggressive things against our defense and that allows our defense to have the opportunity to get more big plays and more disruptive plays,” said Dimel. 

One of the highlights of this past game must be the time of possession. The Miners possessed the ball for 40:35 versus BSU. This left BSU with only 19:25 to create a successful drive, which they did once coming out of the half. 

“…any time you have 40 minutes plus of time of possession, it’s hard for an offense to be in any kind of rhythm, you know? I mean, you just can’t, you can’t get much rhythm when you only have the ball 19 minutes plus, it’s just very difficult,” said Dimel.  

The last time these two schools met was Oct. 24, 2020, where Charlotte beat UTEP 38-28. Charlotte leads this series 2-0.  

The Miners face off against the 49ers at 4 p.m. Saturday Oct. 1 at Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Stats provided by UTEP Athletics, BSU Athletics, Charlotte Athletics and Georgia State Athletics. 

My prediction: 

If the Miners commit to the run game, expect UTEP to come out on top in a very lopsided affair which leaves the score at UTEP 31, Charlotte 14. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram