Here’s to 2023 for the UTEP football team.
Despite a 24-0 lead against top-flight C-USA Saturday at UTSA, the Roadrunners raced back to beat the Miners with a game-winning field goal in the final minute of regulation (34-31), earning the Football -Season of UTEP ended with 5-7 total. Undoubtedly, the miners were in control of the game from the start. But they eventually gave up the lead, effectively costing themselves a bowl berth in consecutive seasons for the first time in 17 years.
The Miners have failed to make a bowl game this season after a 7-6 record and an appearance in the New Mexico Bowl in 2021. UTEP football declined in 2022, a year that saw many pin high hopes on this squad. They brought back a solid group of experienced, talented players from last year. They had continuity in the coaching staff. Sure, they lost a couple of key players to injuries. The team has fallen short of expectations for winnable games this year, reflected in losses against losing-record programs like New Mexico, LA Tech and Rice.
After taking a significant step forward in 2021, the program took a step back in 2022.
Where do you go from here?
The pre-season hype surrounding the UTEP football team looking to bring back most of their starters on offense and seven on defense starting in 2021 was through the roof. Forecasters were of the opinion that the Miners could be a dark horse team from C-USA to compete for a championship. Miner fans felt let down after their 31-13 home opener against North Texas.
The thunderstorm delayed the start of the season on August 31, which took place to a packed house. In hindsight, the storm foreshadowed a dark cloud that hung over this team for most of the year.
After losing to Oklahoma and beating rivals NM State 20-13, the Miners found themselves in a 3-1 breakdown when they were dominated by a far less talented New Mexico team on September 17 (27-10). became.
UTEP proved they can beat quality opponents when they defeated Boise State, the Mountain West powerhouse (27-10). Still, they kept falling into their inconsistent ways, losing to teams like LA Tech (41-31). After their 24-21 win over Florida Atlantic on a walk-off game-winning field goal, the Miners were 4-4 with four games remaining on their schedule and needed just two wins to qualify for the Bowl .
However, the Miners lost three of their next four games, finishing 5-7 on aggregate. The Miners outscored their opponents 114-101 in their last four games. They lost a brutal home game to Middle Tennessee (24-13) where they scored just 13 points at home. They fell against domestic C-USA opponents like Rice (37-30) and UTSA (34-31), both of whom lost a point each.
The Miners will head into the off-season with 24 seniors graduating and the transfer portal looming. Head Coach Dana Dimel is confident about the Miners’ early signing class, which will be announced in late December.
Read more about Steve’s transfer portal.
One of the biggest storylines of the offseason begins at quarterback. Redshirt junior Calvin Brownholtz technically has one more year of eligibility, but he told 600 ESPN El Paso he’s forgoing his final year of eligibility to work with his father after he graduates this fall. Starter Gavin Hardison, who missed the last two games due to an ankle injury, is also eligible for one final season. Will Dimel stay with Hardison as his No. 1 option for 2023, or will the program recruit another quarterback to challenge for a starting job?
Another storyline to monitor will be continuity in the coaching staff. UTEP has some really strong trainers in the field and keeping them will be crucial. Overall, the program has not seen any drastic personnel changes under Dimel, with both offense/defensive coordinators Mike Canales and Mike Cox being relieved of their duties after the 2020 season.
UTEP will face both Northwestern (September 9) and Arizona (September 16) on the streets in 2023 as part of their non-conference schedule. Incarnate Word (September 2) will be their season opener at the Sun Bowl, and the Miners will complete their non-conference game against UNLV (September 23).
Dimel signed a contract extension during the offseason that added two years to his contract. Dimel now has four losing seasons in five years at UTEP. His overall record at the Miners is 17-40 and 8-28 in C-USA.
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