UTEP Football 2021: Victory No. 1 a Must for Miners (September 2021)

My border spies tell me UTEP’s 2021 football fortunes will be told before October gets here. Probably true, though I’d rather have the season graded on the results of key Conference USA games just before Thanksgiving. So far, here’s what we think we think:

When teammates compete vs. teammates, evaluating spring training can be tricky. Against N.M. State, UTEP showed flashes of an improved defense and a steady offense. What’s it mean? We’ll know by the end of September.

Analysis

  • Miners needed a fast start and got it, taking a 10-0 lead over N.M. State in the first six minutes, 17-0 by the end of the first period.
  • Aggies are not very good. Owing to the virus, our Las Cruces neighbors did not field a team last season and looked rusty. Meantime, the Miners went 3-5 last season, losing the last four and never winning over a conference team that would win so much as one game. 
  • UTEP broke this losing streak and restored order, in large measure, because Aggies will always be Aggies. And we Miners are superior human beings. Never forget this enduring fact of life.
  • Guard Bobby DeHaro could play for anybody. A strong O-line is less vulnerable to slumps and uneven performance of, say, a placekicker or a pocket passer. The likes of DeHaro and center Andrew Mayer give the Miners a puncher’s chance to win key road games.
  • Once more, Praise Amaewhule brings a pass-rush the UTEP defense has rarely had since Gene Mack and Rick Gunnels of the Bobby Dobbs days in the old Western Athletic Conference days. That was 50 years ago. 
  • Miners limited the Ags to 190 yards, the least allowed by UTEP since 2014 when the Miners whipped UTSA. New UTEP defensive coordinator Brad Peveto coached 13 years in the SEC (Ole Miss, LSU, A&M). Before that, Peveto played on powerful SMU teams in the mid-1980s, so he knows a player when he sees one and he knows his way around the Texas recruiting circuit. 
  • (*) Two QBs – Gavin Hardison and Calvin Brownholtz – got their shirts wet last season, and benefitted from the experience. Speedy Jacob Cowing excited coaches in early workouts and caught passes for 159 yards vs. the Ags. 

If UTEP becomes more explosive, with more chunk-yardage gains, it should be enough to dig out of the C-USA dungeon. The call: 5-7. 

There is no indication yet that Conference USA is down this season, but if it is, the UTEP team I saw last spring— healthy in key positions — could go 6-6. Maybe, {Dare I write this?} even a notch better. 

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