UTEP is set to begin a new season on the gridiron today when the Miners welcome Houston Baptist to the Sun Bowl in El Paso for the 2019 opener, which is set for a 6 p.m. kickoff.
“We are looking forward to playing some football,” head coach Dana Dimel said at his weekly press conference. “It seems like fall camp went by really quickly for us, as it always does. We had a good trip up to Ruidoso and then came back, so the last couple of weeks we have been hitting it pretty hard. I have been happy with the way the team has been working and what we have been putting out on the field to this point. We invite everyone to come out and see us play. Our team is really looking forward to having a good crowd and a fun environment on Saturday.”
UTEP enters season No. 2 under head coach Dana Dimel, who directed the Miners to their first victory in two years with a 34-26 win at Rice on Nov. 3, 2018. Houston Baptist is led by sixth-year head coach Vic Shealy, while the Huskies are looking to rebound from back-to-back 1-10 seasons in 2017 and 2018.
The Miners and Huskies have met once before in 2016 when UTEP hosted Houston Baptist in a game the Miners won, 42-10, in the Sun City. HBU is 0-5 all-time against FBS opponents.
Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. MT on Saturday at the Sun Bowl. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ for subscribers with Andy Morgan (play-by-play) and Trevor Vittatoe (analysis) calling all the action on Saturday night.
Fans can also tune in to the radio broadcast on KLAQ 95.5 FM to hear Jon Teicher (PxP), Bernie Ricono (analysis) and Mando Medina (sideline).
- Last year, the Miners suffered multiple season-ending injuries early on that hindered the offensive line, but UTEP enters the 2019 season with more strength, returning eight players who have combined for 84 starts. Derron Gatewood brings the most experience to the line, having made 22 starts. Also adding depth at the line are seniors Ruben Guerra, Greg Long, Markos Lujan and Bijan Hosseini. Sophomore Bobby DeHaro was relied on the most last season, starting all 12 games. The El Paso native was the most consistent part of the offensive line, starting at left guard in 11 games.
- The Miners increased their scoring average from 11.8 points per game in 2017 to 17.7 points per game last season. UTEP also increased its total offense per game from 230.5 ypg (2017) to 307.7 ypg (2018). Defensively, UTEP allowed 48 fewer points and 623 fewer yards in 2018 as opposed to the 2017 season, while the Miners were within 12 points of the opposition entering the fourth quarter in five of eight C-USA games in 2018.
- Following the tragedy in the Sun City on Aug. 3, the UTEP football team will wear #ElPasoStrong decals on their helmets throughout the duration of the 2019 season, beginning against Houston Baptist on Aug. 31.
- The UTEP football team will pay tribute to the late Luke Laufenberg at Saturday’s season opener versus Houston Baptist in the Sun Bowl. Laufenberg passed away at the age of 21 on Thursday, Aug. 22 after battling cancer for two years. A tight end from Argyle, Texas, Laufenberg joined the Miners for 2019 spring ball after playing at Mesa Community College in 2017. The tribute to Laufenberg will take place between the first and second quarters at Saturday’s game. A framed jersey will be presented to the Laufenberg family. UTEP players will wear black “Luke” stickers on their helmets throughout the 2019 season.
GAME DAY CENTRAL
#ElPasoStrong: The HBU game will include recognition of the victims and heroes of the Aug. 3 tragedy as well as a halftime celebration of “Everything El Paso” including performances by the UTEP band, cheer and spirit teams, as well as other special appearances. The football game will be held in conjunction with a busy weekend of #ElPasoStrong events on the UTEP campus, with Minerpalooza slated for Friday, Aug. 30 and a Khalid benefit concert scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 1 in the Don Haskins Center.
Tickets: UTEP Football Season Tickets are on sale now and prices have been reduced at all levels for the 2019 season. The UTEP Season Ticket Office is located at Brumbelow Building Room 109 (next to the Don Haskins Center). Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online or by calling (915) 747-6150.
Pregame Activities: Beginning this fall, team buses will drop off the Miners at the GR2 parking lot off of Glory Road. With the UTEP band, cheerleaders and spirit teams leading the way, the student-athletes will walk to their locker room in the Larry K. Durham Sports Center. Fans are invited to the dropoff point at 4 p.m. to cheer on the team as it starts the “Miner Walk.”
Also new in 2019 is a spectacular chrome pick that will be on display in the North concourse of the Sun Bowl Stadium, adjacent to the Durham Center. Fans can take pictures with the pick as a new UTEP gameday tradition is forged.