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‘Focus on the now’ UTEP football coach Scotty Walden on upcoming season

UTEP football will kick off the Scotty Walden era and its season on the road, Aug. 31, against Nebraska. They will play their first of five home games the following week, Sept. 7, against Southern Utah. Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics.

A brand-new staff, a historic recruiting class and new blood at the helm faces the new era of UTEP football. To open the offseason, new Head Coach Scotty Walden had a simple message for his team. 

“Don’t forget, what’s in the past is in the past,” Walden said. “Focus on the now.” 

After an abysmal season under former head coach Dana Dimel, which saw the Miners go 3-9 in the regular season and 2-6 in conference play, the Miners face what could be the toughest schedule in years. 

To open the season, the team faces a powerhouse in the Nebraska Cornhuskers on the road Saturday, Aug. 31. Nebraska only finished 5-7 last season but competes in the Big 10 Conference.  

Other big matchups include the season opener versus FCS Southern Utah Sept. 7, and Colorado State Sept. 21. 

Last season welcomed Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State and Sam Houston into Conference USA following the departure of some schools. This year, Conference USA adds to the list of teams with the Kennesaw State Owls, who the Miners will face in the final home game of the season Saturday Nov. 9. 

UTEP will start conference play on the road against C-USA Champion Liberty University, Saturday, Sept. 14. UTEP fell to the then No. 22 ranked Liberty to close out the season 42-28. 

Following a non-conference road game at Colorado, UTEP resumes conference play in a home battle versus Sam Houston Thursday, Oct. 3. From there, UTEP plays five C-USA games at Western Kentucky, versus Florida International, at LA Tech, versus Middle Tennesse and versus C-USA newcomer Kennesaw State. 

Then, the Miners face off against one of the toughest opponents in recent history in the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennesse Saturday, Nov. 23. The last time these two teams faced off, the Miners were blown out 24-0 back in the early years of the Dana Dimel era in 2018.  

To cap off Walden’s inaugural season, UTEP takes on I-10 rival New Mexico State University (NMSU) at Aggie Memorial Stadium Saturday, Nov. 30. NMSU is also under new management, as former head coach Jerry Kill stepped down following a historic entry into FBS football with a 10-5 season and a second-place finish in Conference USA. Now, NMSU is under the guidance of former NMSU receivers coach Tony Sanchez. 

Aside from the coaching moves this offseason, the Miners have garnered attention on the field as, per 247 Sports and Rivals, UTEP has the best recruiting class out of Conference USA with 25 players committed, three of which are three-star recruits per Rivals. 

Hype around the young coach reached an all-time high when, at a UTEP men’s basketball game, Walden trotted around the Don Haskins Center with body paint in support of the basketball team. The stunt was posted to the UTEP football Instagram page to positive responses. 

One user commented “Love Coach Walden’s energy, #wintthewest.” 

Another user commented “If this is the new energy, I might actually go to a game now!!” 

The Miners start the season on the road versus Nebraska Saturday, Aug 31 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Miners’ first home game will take place Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Sun Bowl against Southern Utah. 

Times are currently TBD. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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