UTEP football: Miners desperate for first win against UTSA

By Matthew Metz

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EL PASO -- UTEP will hope to wipe the slate clean going into C-USA play against UTSA (1-3) this weekend after already starting off in a 0-4 rut to start their season. The Miners are currently undergoing a 16-game losing streak, which continues to be the longest in the FBS. 

First-year head coach Dana Dimel sees improvement in some areas, but believes the team needs to improve as a collective.

“You always come to a program, 98 percent of the time you come because things need to be fixed,” said Dimel in his weekly press conference. “A couple times you come because they were really, really good. We knew that, but I also know that’s a part of the process. I’m trying to expedite this process as fast as possible because I want to have a good season this year. I really truly do.”

Last week against NMSU, the Miners lost to the Aggies 27-20 for their first loss in the rivalry series at home since 2008. Unlike previous games, the Miners lead in total yards against the Aggies, but were unable to overcome turnovers, penalties and defensive mistakes to get their first win of the season. 

“Last week’s game was one that was a really well-contested game,” Dimel said. “I enjoyed the feel of the rivalry. I thought the crowd was really, really into the game. We had some points that the crowd was so loud that New Mexico State had trouble functioning with what they were doing. So I thought that really was a positive thing. I liked the energy. During the game I saw body language out of our team that I hadn’t seen all year. I saw really some confidence starting to come about our football team.”

Starting quarterback Kai Locksley has pretty much solidified himself as the teams’ overall starting quarterback for the remainder of the season after posting a 194 yard game against the Aggies through the air and gaining over 100 yards on the ground.

But other than Locksley, the Miners have a lot of areas that are in dire need of improvement from Saturday’s finish. Dimel commented on the team’s need to continue to improve on the turnover margin, which is something they haven’t been in the positives through three of their four games.

“We have consequences for penalties,” Dimel said. “That’s probably something I’ve learned from Bill Snyder. If you want to eliminate a behavior, you have to have consequences. There’s extra penalties for penalties. There’s running, there’s stair steps in the weight room, there’s push-ups out on the practice field. We’re doing all of the reinforcement mechanisms that we can do to try eliminate the behaviors.”

Against the Roadrunners, Dimel believes that UTEP can put up some significant offensive play, while also have a strong chance of winning if they can create turnovers and generate some points. 

“This is a game that if we play well, we have a good chance to win it,” Dimel said. “It’s a conference game, and that’s good. Guys can see that we’re starting to play at a level that we can win these games, win a road game and have a chance. If we can do that, then gosh you’ve got a ton to play for because you can come out and start off conference play at 1-0.”

UTEP is 5-8 in C-USA openers and is 10-42 all-time in league play road games. More significantly, the home team in the UTSA-UTEP series has never won. 

“It’s funny because history and matchups play a role in the game,” Dimel said. “I’ve been in some where the road team always finds a way to win and that’s funny. But it’s about how well we execute and continue to grow from that.”

Kickoff between the two is slated for 5 p.m. MT. Click here to buy tickets to the game in San Antonio. 

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