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Friday , November 16 2018
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UTEP Football Head Coach Dimel Completes Staff for 2018

UTEP football head coach Dana Dimel announced the final five additions to the staff for the 2018 season. Dimel officially completed his staff on Friday with Josh Oglesby (offensive quality control), Matt Rahl (recruiting coordinator), Joe Robinson (special teams coordinator), Kevin Schadt (director of strength and conditioning) and Mike Simmonds (offensive line).

Robinson, one of the most respected special teams coaches in the country, brings over 28 years of coaching experience. Robinson, a native of Abilene, Texas, will coach at his third football program in the State of Texas. Robinson recently completed the 2016 campaign at Texas Tech as the special teams coordinator with head coach Kliff Kingsbury and served on Dimel’s staff at Houston in 2002.

While at Texas Tech, the Red Raider special teams unit ranked among the top 50 in the country for both punt returns (39th) and blocked kicks (44th). It marked the second time in the last three years where Robinson’s punt return team has ranked in the top 40 nationally. Prior to coaching in Lubbock, Robinson served on Steve Spurrier’s staff at South Carolina for four seasons.

“Robinson is one of the most well respected special teams coordinators in college football,” Dimel said. “He made a significant impact on our special teams at Houston and Arizona. He has been at multiple power five programs and made a dramatic difference at each program.”

Simmonds will enter his 25th year of coaching after being at Northern Iowa for the 2017 season as the program’s offensive line coach/co-offensive coordinator. Northern Iowa led the nation (FCS) in red zone offense, converting on 92 percent of its opportunities (51 att., 31 TD, 16 FG). UNI averaged 29.4 points per game in 2017, while averaging 354.7 yards of total offense in 13 games (8-5 overall record). Simmonds spent the 2016 season at Eastern Illinois, directing the offensive line. His line ranked 36th nationally in fewest sacks allowed (2016). Simmonds also spent time at North Texas (2011-15) with current UTEP offensive coordinator Mike Canales, while the two also coached at South Florida together.

“Simmonds is a very good teacher and has great passion and love for developing lineman,” Dimel said. “I know the offensive linemen at UTEP will developed and will play with great passion under Coach Simmonds tutelage.”

Rahl, who started coaching as a student assistant at his alma mater Missouri Southern State University in 2002, comes from McKendree University, where he spent four seasons as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Rahl, in the summer of 2017, also became the associate head coach for McKendree. He spent five seasons at Wyoming (2009-13) as the director of recruiting, while he was also the Cowboys’ defensive line coach from 2011-12.

Rahl played tight end (1999-2001) at Missouri Southern State before heading into the coaching direction. During the 2007 and 2008 seasons, Rahl served as a graduate assistant the University of Missouri. Rahl helped coach the Tigers’ offensive line. In Rahl’s two seasons at Missouri, the team ranked in the top 10 nationally in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense.

“Rahl is such a versatile asset to our program,” Dimel said. “He brings a good football background, but also has done an outstanding job in coordinating our recruiting efforts.”

Schadt will enter his first season as the director of strength and conditioning after serving as an assistant at Kansas State (2012-17) will Dimel. Prior, Schadt spent three years (2009-11) with the Army West Point football program as an assistant. He graduated from University of Delaware with a degree in applied nutrition and strength and conditioning in 2007. Schadt also earned his Master’s Degree in health, human performance, and recreation from Pittsburgh State in 2017.

“When working with Schadt at Kansas State, the players at K-State felt that he had outstanding communication skills as a teacher,” Dimel said. “He is a great motivator and instructor, which is essential to the strength position.”

Oglesby just completed three seasons with Oregon State, the first in 2015 at offensive quality control and the last two (2016 & 2017) as a graduate assistant/offensive line. In 2016, left tackle Sean Harlow was named to the Pac-12 All-Conference second team. Oglesby arrived at Oregon State after serving as a graduate assistant coach at Wisconsin under then head coach Gary Andersen from February 2013-May 2015.

As a coach for the Badgers, he worked with the offensive tackles, tight ends, specialists and with the scout teams. Oglesby was a four-year letterman offensive tackle for Wisconsin from 2007-11, starting three year and redshirting as a true freshman. He was a consensus All-Big Ten Conference selection as a senior and helped the Badgers to two division titles.

“Oglesby has a great knowledge base of offensive line play,” Dimel said. “And will have a great teaching rapport in mentoring our offensive line.”

The 2018 schedule was officially released on Jan. 24 and features six home contests. The Miners will open against Northern Arizona on Sept. 1 in the Sun Bowl and will then travel to UNLV (Sept. 8) and Tennessee (Sept. 15) before returning to El Paso to face I-10 rival NM State. UTEP will open Conference USA action on Sept. 29 at UTSA, and will complete the regular season against Southern Miss (Nov. 24) in the Sun City during Thanksgiving Weekend.

Season tickets may be purchased or renewed starting Feb. 15 – call 747.6150 or click utepahtletics.com for more information.

 

WATCH: UTEP Introduces New Football Head Coach Dana Dimel

( Video courtesy UTEP Athletics) UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter officially announced Dana Dimel as the 26th head coach in UTEP football history.

Quotes from New Head Football Coach Dana Dimel

“Thanks guys, I’m obviously very pleased to be here and want to thank Dr. [Diana] Natalicio and Jim [Senter] and Chris [Park] and Richard [Adauto III], as they all put the search together. I got spend time with Dr. Natalicio and I can tell she’s got a lot of passion and compassion for the people of El Paso and also for her job, so that was a very nice conversation that we had. I’m really proud of Jim, him and I are coming into this thing together and we’re ready to work hard, but that goes without saying – we don’t even need to say that, that’s just what happens. I’ve heard so many good things about [Jim Senter] as a leader and I’m so excited to work with him and move this program in the right direction. In visiting with Chris and Richard, those are two other guys who have a really firm grasp on what’s going on at the University of Texas at El Paso and they’re going to be a big, big help to me. I appreciate everybody from that sense. And then I want introduce my wife Julie here. Julie, I think she likes football more than me, possibly. If I know anybody who has a great passion for the game of football, it’s Julie. She wakes up every Saturday morning and watches ESPN Game Day and every Sunday, she’s glued to the set watching Roby G [Rob Gronkowski] of the Patriots. She’s a pretty loyal Patriots fan. You guys will love spending time around her and enjoy her and enjoy how she’s got a great passion for the game of football and all it brings to us.

 

“Let me talk little bit now just the things about this job that I want to accomplish. I think that there’s so much that can be done here and I see the great potential in everything that we want to do is going to be in a positive method and positive manner. I think that’s so important when you’re dealing with young people like we are with college athletes, is that you have to be positive and you have to have a great positive attitude, and a consistent positive attitude, so that what I want to bring to the table. We’re going to make this a great place to play college football and we’re going to have a good time doing it with our players. They’re going to represent everybody in the university very, very well. That’s going to be one of my greatest sealing points to parents as we go out and recruit. I want them to know that the players in our program will care about academics, they’re going to go to class, they’re going to care about doing things off the field the right way, they’re going to respect people in the community. And then when other kids come in to play, they’re going to know all those things are important to them and that our players represent that. And the parents will feel really comfortable about that. And that’s an important part of recruiting is that the parents will send their young men to play college football and the one thing they want to know is what kind of people are they going to be around. So, the quality of character that’s in our program is why we’re going to win. We’re going to win because of character. The recruiting process will start with, number one, character, and that’s going to be the most driving factor that we have. Obviously, we’re going to look for great talent and have a background in state of Texas. I recruited the state of Texas for the first time as a graduate assistant, which normally you don’t get to go out and recruit as a graduate assistant, but we had some typical turnover that you would have at Kansas State and I’ll get to that kind of a background of Kansas State and the turnaround there. When I was out recruiting as a graduate assistant in 1987, as a very young coach, the first place I recruited was in San Antonio, Texas, and I have never stopped recruiting Texas since. I’ve been in Texas at every stop that I’ve been with, I’ve been a head coach, which we had a lot of success in Texas. Obviously, with my stay at Houston, we had the top recruiting classes in Conference USA my last two years there and left that program in great standing. When we left there for Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin, Tony Levine and Tom Herman to take over and have great success. We laid a tremendous foundation there through recruiting in the state of Texas, and we did it well at Wyoming and when I left to go on to Arizona and worked for Mike Stoops at Arizona, we also recruited in Texas very well. So, my relationship, one of the strengths that we bring to the table, is my relationship with high school Texas coaches. It’s been one that’s been impeccable through the years. I’ve tried to make sure that I haven’t burned any bridges with the coaches and I think all of them are excited that I’m back in Texas as a head coach and they’re’ very much forward looking to help our program move in the right direction. That’s going to be very important to have high school coaches in Texas behind us. I’ll continue to cultivate the relationship and make sure that those guys understand what we’re doing and how we’re going to do it the right way.

 

“Going back to the history – I don’t want to call this a turnaround, because it’s not a turnaround – we’re going to build a program and we’re going to build it from the ground up and when I get asked about ‘time and concepts’, about ‘how long it’s going to take?’, ‘how you’re going to be?’. Take the 1-0 concept and that’s the concept we’re going to be as good as we can be today and we’re going to get the most of everyday and if we do that, then tomorrow will take care of itself. And that’s the most important as you turn a program around. So, I’ll kind of relate some of turnaround stories in my background that gives me the experience to be able to come in and build the program. The first, I played at Kansas State, and when I was at Kansas State, we probably won five or six games in my three years that I played there. So, not a lot of success. And then I took over as a GA. my first two years as a GA, I think we were 0-21-1 and the only game that we tied was against Kansas and it was called the ‘Toilet Bowl’. Neither of us knew how to win and so we both decided to tie the game, it would just go away. So, the next year, Bill Snyder comes in and I get moved up to a higher position on the staff and we win one game. We went 1-10 in that first year. And then as time went on, obviously, the story tells itself and we turned that program around, and I was able to go out and get the chance to be a head coach at the University of Wyoming at a young age. At that time, I ended up staying in coaching and took the head coaching job at Wyoming, I stayed on and coached the Cotton Bowl, finished it up, and then went to Wyoming. And then I had the great success there at Wyoming and then moved on from there to the University of Houston. My point is this: what I saw at Kansas State, and how what losing brought to the table and how to turn a program around, and the leadership it takes, the positive leadership and the team unity it takes, and the player leadership just stepping up and knowing how to get a program right and to make each other very accountable. That’s a key work, making everybody accountable on the team and to prepare ourselves to win. I saw that and I saw was so important to make that transition. So, as I move forward as head coach, I implemented those into both programs and both of them took to fruition and both of them had success because of that. I’m very proud of that and that I’m very much qualified to do it again here and I’m just excited about the opportunity because I took the role after I was done at Houston and I went and helped Mike [Stoops] as the associate head coach at Arizona, my role was this, was do the very best job at what you’re doing each and every day. Be the best you can be and don’t worry about anything else, do worry about another offensive coordinator position, don’t worry about getting another head coaching position, just be the best offensive coordinator you can be each and every day and be a good mentor to your players. And I even never tried to get another head coaching job. This is the first head coaching job that I’ve made an effort to get. It was a time in my life where I knew was a really good fit for me and a place that needed us. I feel so positive on what we’re going to accomplish here, things that we’re going to get done, but with a 1-0 concept with really good quality people in the program. And we’re going to take all the evaluation skills that Jim mentioned, all the skills that we have to evaluate talent and to understand how to develop talent. Because there are two things that we have to do really well here, to evaluate and we’re going to have to develop. That’s going to be the strength of our program. We’re going to bring in guys who have great potential, and then we’re going to be known as one of the best developing programs in the country. And the brand that we’re going to have is the same brand that I’ve had everywhere that I’ve been – that our guys are going to play hard and they’re going to be accountable, and that’s the brand we’ve carried with us everywhere that we’ve been. They’re going to line up and play against a UTEP football team, where you’re going to play against a bunch of disciplined and accountable players. And then Jim talked about our philosophies, we’re going to score a lot of points. I’m one of the winningest, if not the winningest offensive coordinators in country since 2011.

 

“My experience as a head coach has helped me to learn that not trying to build a resume by getting 650 yards, but then your defense is there for 100 plays, you’re trying to be as efficient as you can and score a lot of points and have an exciting brand of football. But the bottom line is, and Jim hit it right in the head, the philosophy for us is to score one more point than the defense gives up and that the defense hold them to one less point than the offense scores. So, that’s going to be our philosophy and along the way we’ve averaged 33.5 points over the last seven years and have probably the most efficient offense in college football. If you look at it, we have been that offense where the things that really matter are points per possession, things like that are underlined things that show how efficient you are – red zone offense and third-down offense, all those things that are efficiency measures, K-State is very well regarded. As far as being a spread team, we use every formation imaginable. But two years in a row we were selected the number one spread team in the nation, because we made the defense make the most solo tackles of any offense in the country two years in a row. We’ve had Heisman Trophy finalists in our offense, our offense has set school passing records and school rushing records. Whatever our talent tells us we have, we have an offense that has the ability to play to that talent. So, we’re going to make our offense fit the personnel that we have and we are going to recruit quality characters, but really, we’re going to recruit guys who are smart and they run well. And they’re going to run well and that’s important. You got to have guys who move. And it doesn’t necessarily mean at every position, speed, but you want speed at your skill. We’re going to have guys on the offensive line, guys on the defensive line and guys at the linebacker position run well, and that’s very important for us. Defensively, we’re going to have to be as sound and disciplined as possible but will be aggressive. We’ll try and create as many turnovers as possible, because obviously, the turnovers are going to change a game. So, there’s going to be a big goal for us is to win the turnover margin in each and every game. Offensively, I think we’re number three in the country in turnovers in the last eight years – the least number of turnovers. Defensively, we want to be able to match that by causing a lot of turnovers and that’s going to help us win football games. So, that’s some of the philosophical things that I wanted to visit about with the program.

 

“I can’t’ wait; we’ve already started. I watched, when I did my interview, I watched a lot of the players on film. I already got a good feel for what kind of talent is here. I made sure I did my homework and have a good feel of what these players bring to the table and I’m not going to dwell on the past at all, that’s not anything with what my job is. I learned that in a turnaround, is that coach don’t come in and say that the players that we have now are ‘this and that’. I’m going to evaluate; the staff is going to evaluate what we have as a football team. I’m sure there’s plenty to work with on this football team and I know from the team meeting, there’s plenty of guys who are excited to play and that’s what I’m going to build on. These are my guys and I’m going to grow with them.”

***

Dana Dimel, 55, was previously the head coach at the University of Wyoming and the University of Houston.  He most recently served as the offensive coordinator, running backs coach and tight ends coach at his alma mater, Kansas State University, where he has worked since 2009.  He also spent three seasons on the staff at the University of Arizona.

Dimel is completing his third tour of duty with the Wildcats, including a year (2005) continuing work on his graduate degree.  Working under legendary coach Bill Snyder, he has been a part of 12 bowl teams during 19 seasons in Manhattan.  The Wildcats have posted an 11-win season (2012), two 10-win campaigns (1995, 2011) and five nine-win seasons (1993, 1994, 1996, 2014, 2016) during that span, and have finished in the top-18 of the national poll on three occasions (2011, 2012, 2014).  They won the Big 12 championship in 2012.

Dimel has the most wins of any active offensive coordinator in college football since 2011 (60), and has been a part of eight straight bowl appearances including in 2017. The 2016 Wildcats defeated Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU.

With Dimel calling the plays over the last seven seasons, the Wildcats have averaged 33.4 points per game and 6.2 yards per play.  They have ranked third nationally in fewest turnovers per game behind LSU and Alabama over the last seven years.

During Dimel’s tenure as offensive coordinator, Kansas State has routinely ranked among the nation’s best teams in red zone and third down efficiency.

In 2014, Kansas State led the nation in scoring efficiency (scoring drives/total drives) while shattering the school record for passing yards (3,736) and completion percentage (65.3).

Dimel’s play calling helped wide receiver Tyler Lockett leave K-State with the school’s career receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdown records, while quarterback Jake Waters broke the school marks for single-season passing yards (3,501) and total offensive yards (3,985).

In 2012 Dimel coached Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein, who passed for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 920 yards and 23 scores.

In 2011, Dimel led a rushing offense that saw Klein set a new Big 12 record and NCAA record by a quarterback with 27 rushing touchdowns while rushing for 1,000+ yards.

Dimel started his career at K-State as a graduate assistant from 1987-88 prior to being elevated to offensive line coach in 1989.  He took over as offensive coordinator in 1995.  Overall Dimel spent 10 seasons in Manhattan (1987-96) prior to accepting the head coaching position at Wyoming.  At the time of his hire, he was the youngest Division I-A head coach in the nation at the age of 34.

Wyoming’s three seasons at Wyoming (1997-99) produced a record of 22-13, with one eight-win season (1998, 8-3) and two seven-win campaigns (1997, 7-6 and 1999, 7-4).  In 1998, Wyoming was 6-2 in the WAC’s Mountain Division (second place).  Dimel coached three Academic All-Americans at Wyoming.

Dimel spent 2000-02 as the head coach at Houston.  Spearheading a major rebuilding effort, he led the Cougars to five wins in 2002 following a 0-11 campaign in 2001.  In Dimel’s final game with the Cougars, Houston upset conference champion Louisville.  Dimel brought in the top-ranked recruiting class in Conference USA in both 2001 and 2002.

He continued work on his graduate degree at Kansas State in 2005 prior to taking over as Arizona’s tight ends coach and, eventually, run game coordinator from 2006-08.  In 2008, he added running backs to his list of responsibilities as he was promoted to Associate Head Coach with the Wildcats.  The 2008 Arizona squad finished 8-5 while posting a bowl victory (Las Vegas Bowl) for the first time in 10 years.  Among Dimel’s protégés at Arizona was Rob Gronkowski, who has emerged as one of the top tight ends in NFL history with the New England Patriots.

During his initial tenure at K-State, Dimel coordinated an offense that established school records for touchdowns, points and yards in 1995. He mentored 11 offensive linemen who went on to sign NFL contracts over those 10 years, as well as three All-Americans.

During his career as a head or assistant coach, Dimel has coached 37 players who have gone on to play in the NFL.

Dimel was a two-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Kansas State.  He was a member of the Wildcats’ All-Decade Team for the 1980’s.  He signed a free agent contract with the Minnesota Vikings and attended training camp in 1987.

He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing from Kansas State in 1986.

Dimel and his wife, Julie, have a son, Winston and a daughter, Josey.  His son is a junior fullback on the Kansas State football team who has scored 25 touchdowns over the last three seasons.  He is a three-time All-Big 12 player, garnering first team honors in 2015 and 2016.

UAB Defeats UTEP 28-7

BIRMINGHAM, Al. – A.J. Erdely threw two touchdowns and rushed for another as UAB (8-4, 6-2 Conference USA) defeated UTEP (0-12, 0-8 C-USA), 28-7, on a brisk Saturday afternoon at historic Legion Field.

“I think we played probably a better football team than us today. It seemed like they had, in key spots, [UAB’s] athletes were very good. In the secondary, we had trouble getting away from them and they covered us tightly and didn’t have a lot of guys running wide open,” interim UTEP head coach Mike Price said. “They had four sacks against our quarterback. But we did have two against them.”

Senior linebacker Alvin Jones was a highlight in 2017 as he topped the century mark in tackles after registering seven against the Blazers.

Jones finishes his senior season with a career-high and team-leading 102 tackles, along with 343 stops in his career. Jones also registered a season-high 2.0 sacks and three tackles for loss in his final game as a Miner. Jones’s 15.0 sacks are tied for fourth on the program’s all-time list.

UAB put points on the board first when it drove 43 yards on eight plays that was capped by a Nick Vogel 40-yard made field goal attempt.

UTEP would take a short-lived lead as it answered with a 75-yard, eight-play scoring drive. A key moment during the drive was a personal foul called on Stacy Keely that moved the ball to the UTEP 47-yard line. After three plays, the Miners found themselves in a fourth-and-1 in which senior Zack Greenlee converted as he hooked up with a wide-open tight end Josh Weeks down the middle of the field and went for a career-long 41 yards to the UAB three-yard line.

The drive ended with Greenlee to Weeks for a two-yard touchdown toss – Weeks’s first collegiate score. Weeks returned to the gridiron and came back at North Texas after missing the previous five games. The sophomore transfer from BYU had entered the contest with four receptions for 25 yards and a long of 11 yards.

With the score 7-6 midway through the second quarter, Greenlee threw an interception to safety Broderick Thomas. The pick was returned to the UTEP 30-yard line. The UTEP defense held its own the on the first three plays, not allowing any yards, but Erdely found Collin Lisa on a 30-yard scoring pass on a third-and-10 play. The two-point conversion was good to put the Blazers up 14-7.

“I was pleased with the first half, particularly the first quarter we came out ready to play and drove down there and scored,” Price said. “It was a great play selection by Brian Natkin on that fourth-and-1, where we fake a fumble – the quarterback fakes fumbling the football and then gets up, stands up and finds a wide open receiver and almost over threw it.”

The Blazers went up 21-7 at the seven-minute mark of the third quarter. The drive went 79 yards on 11 plays that ended with an Erdely 10-yard touchdown rush. The game was put away when Erdely threw his second touchdown pass, an 11-yard strike to Logan Scott with 4:23 to play in the third quarter, making the score 28-7.

Junior defensive back Kahani Smith recorded seven tackles and a pass breakup. Smith, after transferring to UTEP from Riverside CC, will finish with 46 tackles in his first season as a Miner.

Senior Alan Luna booted seven punts for 334 yards (47.7 avg.) and will finish his career with 206 punts to rank third in program history.

The Blazers outgained the Miners 334 yards to 208. Kevin Dove, who replaced an injured Joshua Fields (five carries, 24 yards), led the way with 36 yards. Weeks gained 43 yards on a pair of receptions, while senior Tyler Batson recorded two catches for 54 yards with a long of 30 yards.

Freshman defensive lineman Christian Johnson, who had played in two previous games throughout the season (at no. 7 Oklahoma & at NM State), registered his first collegiate tackles – finishing with four on the day.

UTEP to Honor “Hometown Heroes” at Rice Football Game

UTEP will pay tribute to public safety officers and agencies in El Paso County at the Miners’ 2017 football home opener versus Rice on Saturday, September 9. 

The Sun City’s “Hometown Heroes” will be recognized on the video board at the game and are eligible for ticket discounts and special pre-game activities.

Discounted tickets are available to all officers, agents and staff of local public safety agencies via an offer code that can be applied to purchases on Ticketmaster online.  To verify your eligibility and obtain the code, please call 747-6065.

The first annual Badges & Flags Public Safety Flag Football Tournament will take place the morning of Sept. 9 in the Sun Bowl.  To register your team of 10, please contact Michael Flores (747-7450, mflores139@miners.utep.edu).  Only public safety employees are eligible and registration is open to the first 16 teams.  Participation is free.  

Check-in begins at 7 a.m. on Sept. 9 with the first game starting at 7:30 a.m., and the championship game slated for 12:45 p.m. 

Public safety agencies can purchase tailgate tents through Drew Thomas at the Miner Athletic Club (747-6912, athomas@utep.edu).  Tents for 50 persons are $425 (includes five tables and 50 chairs), and tents for 100 persons are $750 (includes 10 tables and 100 chairs).

Group tickets are available to parties of 15 or more for just $15 plus a $10 service charge.  To purchase, please contact Michael Flores (747-7450, mflores139@miners.utep.edu).

UTEP to Celebrate 100th Football Season in 2017

UTEP will kick off its 100th football season on Saturday at Oklahoma, and the 2017 campaign will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the program.

The Miners’ inaugural season was in 1914, but there were no games played in 1943, 1944 and 1945 due to World War II.  UTEP has appeared in 14 bowl games, most recently in 2014 under head coach Sean Kugler.

UTEP announced its Centennial Football Team in 2014 as part of the university’s Centennial Celebration.  One of the members of the team, linebacker Seth Joyner, will be inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 27.

UTEP players will wear a commemorative “100 Seasons” patch on their helmets this fall.  The 100-year celebration will also include:

  • A video board segment at all five home games
  • A historical feature in every game program
  • Social media content all season long celebrating the history of the program, including vintage photos and opportunities for fans to vote on their favorite UTEP Football players and moments
  • The return of members of the 1967 Sun Bowl championship team on the 50th Anniversary of the 14-7 victory over Mississippi at the WKU game on Oct. 7

 

UTEP’s Hernandez Named to Piesman Watch List

SB Nation announced All-American Will Hernandez as one of 44 linemen on The Piesman Watch List on Friday.

Hernandez has racked up the preseason honors leading up to UTEP’s season opener. The left guard was announced to the 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List, 2017 Preseason AP All-American and was recognized by Athlon Sports as a Preseason All-Conference USA first team and Preseason All-America third team.

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football picked Hernandez to the Preseason All-Texas team, while Phil Steel’s College Football Preview appointed him to the Preseason All-C-USA first team and as a Preseason All-American. Hernandez also earned a spot on the 2017 Preseason C-USA Football team.

Last season, Hernandez played on a dominant offensive line that only allowed 1.3 sacks per game. UTEP running back Aaron Jones also set the single-season school record with 1,773 yards. Hernandez started all 12 contests on his way to the 2016 AP and FOX Sports’ All-America teams.

Hernandez is the only C-USA lineman on the Piesman Watch List.

This year, three finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony scheduled to take place on Friday, Dec. 8, in New York City. Piesman voters include media members from outlets like ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, CBS, the AP, Sports Illustrated and The Ringer. And of course, college football fans have a voice too, via an online ballot made available later in the season.

The Piesman Trophy was first awarded in 2015, to Ashton Henderson from Southeastern Louisiana, before Pitt’s O’Neill took home his own “Slice of Heaven” in December, 2016.

UTEP’s Hernandez Named to AP Preseason All-America Second Team

The Associated Press announced UTEP senior offensive lineman Will Hernandez to the 2017 AP Preseason All-America second team as chosen by the votes of 51 members of the AP Top 25 media panel on Tuesday.

Hernandez has racked up the preseason honors leading up to UTEP’s season opener. The left guard was announced to the 2017 Outland Trophy Watch List, and was recognized by Athlon Sports as a Preseason All-Conference USA first team and Preseason All-America third team.

Dave Campbell’s Texas Football picked Hernandez to the Preseason All-Texas team, while Phil Steel’s College Football Preview appointed him to the Preseason All-C-USA first team and as a Preseason All-American. Hernandez also earned a spot on the 2017 Preseason C-USA Football team.

Last season, Hernandez played on a dominant offensive line that only allowed 1.3 sacks per game. UTEP running back Aaron Jones also set the single-season school record with 1,773 yards. Hernandez started all 12 contests on his way to the 2016 AP and FOX Sports’ All-America teams.

The UTEP coaching staff rolled the dice on Las Vegas, Nev., native and itself one of the hardest working players in the nation. Hernandez has started all 37 games at the left guard position and during his three seasons donning the Orange and Blue. UTEP signal callers have been sacked 47 times during Hernandez’s 37 starts (1.3 per game).

Prior to Hernandez’s redshirt freshman season, the Miners allowed 27 sacks in 2013. That number was cut to 13 allowed in 13 games in 2014.

Hernandez and the o-line will get their first challenge – in a big way – as the Miners will play at no. 7 Oklahoma on Sept. 2. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. MT and the contest will be televised on FOX.

UTEP Football Fan Day to be Held on Saturday

UTEP football will hold its annual “Fan Appreciation Day” on Saturday, August 26 at the Sun Bowl Stadium’s North Concourse.

Fan Day, scheduled from noon to 2 pm, will feature an autograph session, a mini-pep rally with the UTEP Band, Cheer and Golddiggers, activities for families, giveaways, raffle items, and free popcorn and water.

Admission for the event is free and fans will receive a commemorative 2017 football season football poster and will be limited to one additional item to be signed.

After the autograph session, fans will have the opportunity to show off their athletic abilities in a Kick, Punt and Pass event down on the field. UTEP Marketing will record scores from all fans who have entered and post them on the UTEP Athletics Facebook page at the end of the day. The top three participants will win an on-field experience for the home opener Sept. 9 versus Rice.

The UTEP Band, Cheer and the Golddiggers mini-pep rally is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. in the North Concourse.

The UTEP Marketing table will have season ticket, Kids Club, Miner Maniac and Miner Athletic Club (MAC) tailgate information. Individual tickets for the home opener/Conference USA opener for the Rice game on Sept. 9 will be sold at the ticket center at the North Concourse.

UTEP will open the 2017 campaign at no. 7 Oklahoma in Memorial Stadium with kickoff set for 1:30 p.m. MT. The game will also be televised on FOX (El Paso local channel KFOX).

Gallery+Story: UTEP Offense Scores Six Touchdowns in Sunday’s Scrimmage

RUIDOSO, N.M. – The UTEP quarterbacks looked solid during the second and final scrimmage at Camp Ruidoso as Zack Greenlee threw a trio of touchdowns and Ryan Metz connected on a pair of throwing scores on Sunday.

The Miners will head back to the Sun City on Sunday following the scrimmage and will start practice at Glory Field on Tuesday morning in preparations for Oklahoma on Sept. 2 in Norman.

“It was a good scrimmage and we wrapped up a really productive camp,” fifth-year head coach Sean Kugler said. “As a staff, we talked about our goals that we set going into camp. We talked about becoming unified as a team and comradery. We discussed developing on both sides of the ball, finding out about some youngsters and newcomers, and how they can help our program. We accomplished all our goals.”

And most importantly, the Miners stayed healthy for the most part.

“We’re fairly healthy,” Kugler added. “All the guys who were injured are expected to be back for the first game [at Oklahoma].”   

Walter Dawn Jr. started the scoring spree on the first drive with Metz under center at the 35-yard line to being the morning scrimmage. Dawn Jr. opened the drive with a 17-yard run and ended it with a two-yard plunge into the end zone. A key play was a Metz pass to Terry Juniel for a 29-yard gain to the 20-yard line. Dawn Jr. used runs of 13 and five yards following the Juniel catch to set up the touchdown.  Dawn Jr., a sophomore who was switched to running back, carried five times for 42 yards (8.4 avg.)

On the second drive (35-yard line), Greenlee opened with a 47-yard pass completion to transfer Alan Busey, who’s been a bright spot during the two-week camp. Greenlee completed two more passes, an eight-yard pass to Keynan Foster and a five-yard toss to Sterling Napier. But the defense responded with a sack by Dedrick Simpson.

Simpson’s sack was the first of five as second-year defensive coordinator Tom Mason kept encouraging his squad from the sideline. Dylan Parsee added the second that stopped a drive, while newly converted linebacker Treyvon Hughes, freshman Keith Sullivan and Mike Sota each took down the quarterbacks.

With the defense making plays, the offense stepped up again as Greenlee found Kevin Dove for a 12-yard scoring pass. The drive started at the 25-yard line during the red zone drills. Greenlee opened the red zone drive with an 11-yard pass to Tyler Batson.

Of the five red zone drives, the offense found the end zone twice as Metz hooked with Busey for a 12-yard score. Parsee notched a sack to end one of those red zone drives.

Greenlee finished with 209 yards on 9-of-12 passing. Greenlee found Warren Redix for a 34-yard touchdown and then ended the scrimmage with an exclamation point. On the final drive of the day, the offense was penalized for five yards to put the ball back at the 35-yard line. But Greenlee rolled out to his right and launched a 65-yard scoring pass to freshman and El Paso native Richie Rodriguez.

Metz finished 11-of-13 with 141 yards and a pair of scores. The UTEP signal callers didn’t commit any turnovers on the day.

“I thought the quarterbacks, really during the past week, have stepped up their game from an efficiency standpoint,” Kugler said. “They’re more accurate and doing a good job at handling the audibles versus the blitzes. We has the defense blitz the quarterbacks a lot this past week.”

Juniel led the receivers with 82 yards on five catches, while Dylan Kittrell impressed with 55 yards on four receptions. All of Kittrell’s receptions came from true freshman quarterback Alex Fernandes. Transfer tight end Josh Weeks caught three passes for 39 yards and Busey tallied 59 yards on a pair of receptions.

Defensively, Alvin Jones led with five tackles, while transfer defensive back Khalil Rashaad-Brown registered four stops. Justin Rogers tallied three tackles and a pass breakup, while Sullivan and Sota each added pass breakups. Sullivan, at 6-foot-7, 260 pounds, drew a few holding penalties. ​

Photos by Andres Acosta, El Paso Herald-Post Chief Photographer

Quotes: Head Coach Sean Kugler at 2017 C-USA Football Media Kickoff

UTEP Miners football Head Coach Sean Kugler spoke to the press Wednesday about his team and the upcoming 2017 Conference USA season.

Coach Kugler enters his fifth season at the helm of the Miners.

Why are Will [Hernandez] and Alvin [Jones] so important to the program?

“Will Hernandez is probably the most physical players on our program. He’s been our starting [left] guard for three years and he’s on the Outland Trophy Watch list. Will is one of the hardest working players I’ve ever been around. He brings a work ethic that we are looking for in our program. Will is probably one of the strongest players I’ve been around. He’s very humble and just a hardworking kid.

“Alvin Jones is the twin brother of Aaron Jones, who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers this past year. And Alvin again has been equally productive. He’s been our leading tackler the last three years, our leading sacker two out of the three years and our leader in tackles for losses.

“Both those guys are very productive. They’re both productive in the classroom and going to graduate on time. [Will and Alvin] are both quality kids with great work ethic. So, they deserve to be [at media day] and they deserve to be Conference USA Preseason candidates.”

How much improvement are you expecting from the defense after playing a year as a 3-4 defense?

“We’re expecting drastic improvement. We saw it in the Spring; just from a communication standpoint and guys getting lined up in the right places. Last year – to a fault of my own – that was a little more than what we expected, completely making a drastic change switching from the 4-2-5 to a 3-4. Number one, just the time to learn it, I felt the defense drastically improved as the year went on. But from a personnel standpoint, we had to go and get linebackers and we’ve got 20 linebackers on our roster now, which is drastically improved. Having that many linebackers will also help the special teams with all those big bodies running around.”

What do you have to do to generate more of a pass rush?

“We have to generate more sacks and we’ve addressed that by signing some linebackers. We could have a whole new linebacking crew out on the field for the exception of Alvin and Dante [Lovilotte]. Lovilotte’s a returning linebacker who had an outstanding season. We signed Julian Jackson, who’s a graduate transfer from Wake Forest. We also have some young, up-and-coming players who we were impressed with during the Spring – guys like Dylan Parsee and Lawrence Montegut and those type guys. But we have to generate more sacks and that is what the 3-4 defense is built on and that’s what we expect.”

How does having a returning starting quarterback [Ryan Metz] help to improve the offense? Does it take weight off you as a coaching staff?

“[Ryan Metz] is a quality kid. He’s a leader and a competitor. He was probably out [on the field] too early in his career. He just wasn’t quite ready yet, but no fault of his, he just had to be ready. Now he’s ready. It’s his time, he’s put in the work and he’s very productive when he’s played. Our offense, when he was inserted in last year, averaged over 30 points per game from the time he was the quarterback till the end of the season. The team rallies around him and he’s got a great demeanor. We’re excited about Ryan Metz and what he can do for the program this season.”

What did you learn playing under Andy Reid?

“I learned a lot, [Andy Reid] was really my mentor – a father figure to me. I always knew I wanted to be a coach. But after spending three years playing for Andy Reed, I knew I wanted to be the best coach. He’s probably the best coach in the NFL, even though I’m being biased about that. As far as a line coach, he’s the best line coach I’ve ever been around.”

UTEP’s Ryan Metz Announced as Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Candidate

BALTIMORE, Md. – UTEP’s Ryan Metz was one of 47 standout quarterbacks from different divisions and conferences across the nation to be named as a 2017 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award candidate on Tuesday.

The Golden Arm Award is presented at the end of each football season and the winner is selected based on his accomplishments both on and off the field.

The junior signal caller played in 11 contests, starting seven during the 2016 campaign. Metz completed 64.7 (130-201) percent of his passes, which ranked third in Conference USA and is the program’s second-best single-season performance. Metz tossed 14 touchdowns, only four interceptions and 1,375 yards. His 141.14 passing efficiency rating was the program’s fifth-best single-season outing.

The native of El Paso was highlighted as one of eight Manning Award Stars of the Week after tying his career high with a trio of touchdown passes during a 52-49 5OT victory at UTSA on Oct. 22. Metz also concluded his sophomore season with a pair of touchdown passes, including a career-long 72-yard score during a dominant victory over North Texas.

The graduate of Andress High School is known for his on-field achievements and has also made an impact off the field. Metz completed 25 hours of community service hours last season, while the signal caller is known for volunteering his time to children in the community.

Metz volunteered over 15 hours at children’s camps, where he assisted with football drills and activities for the future gridiron greats. Metz was also a member of Project MOVE, where he played with children in the community in various activities like kickball, football and soccer. Metz is active in assisting with the football team’s weekly dinner with the Child Crisis Center.

Metz, along with his teammates, spend time with the children in the Crisis Center, playing, working on homework and eating dinner together. His classroom achievements were recognized as Metz has been named to the C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll the past three years.

Metz was also selected as one of 45 national collegiate quarterbacks, and the first UTEP quarterback, to be invited to the 2017 Manning Passing Academy supervised by the Manning Family (Archie, Cooper, Eli & Peyton). The camp was a four-day event that started June 22 at Nicholls State University in which over 125 prep, college and professional coaches, counselors and staff members were involved.

UTEP opens the 2017 season at Oklahoma on Sept. 2 (1:30 p.m. MT). The home opener will also be the C-USA lid lifter as the Miners will host Rice on Sept. 9 and will follow with another home game against Arizona on Friday, Sept. 15 (8:15 p.m.).

For season tickets call 915.747.6150 or email seasontickets@utep.edu.

Miners Receive Preseason C-USA Recognition

Seniors Will Hernandez and Alvin Jones were named to the 2017 Preseason Conference USA Football team, the league announced on Monday.

For Hernandez this is the seventh preseason honor of the season (Outland Trophy, Athlon Sports’ All-American, Athlon Sports All-C-USA, Dave Campbell’s All-Texas Team, Phil Steele’s All-American and Phil Steele’s All-C-USA).

The All-American has started all 37 games at the left guard position during his career, while he’s part of an offensive line unit that has surrendered only 47 sacks in 37 contests (1.3 sacks allowed per game). The Miners ranked tied third in sacks allowed (22.0) and ranked fourth in sacks allowed per game (1.83).

Overall in the country, Phil Steele’s College Football Preview ranks the Miners’ offensive unit no. 40 in his top 56. UTEP is one of five schools not from a Power Five conference to make the top 40.

This is Jones’ fourth preseason award (Athlon Sports’ All-C-USA, Dave Campbell’s All-Texas Team, Phil Steele’s All-C-USA). The linebacker played in 10 contests, making eight starts and missing two games due to injury last season.

He earned All-C-USA second team honors after leading team in tackles with 93 (44 solo). Jones led team with 72 tackles on rushing plays and registered double-digit tackles in four contests. The El Paso native has 241 career tackles (seventh most at UTEP since the 2000 season) and has 10.5 career sacks, needing 1.5 to crack the all-time top 10 list.

The Miners open the new campaign at Oklahoma on Sept. 2, followed by the C-USA opener against Rice in the Sun Bowl on Sept. 9. For season tickets, call 915-747-6150.

Gallery & Story: Jones Blows Up Aggies, Sets Career Record as UTEP wins 38-22

UTEP running back Aaron Jones made his return a stellar one Saturday night, leading the Miners with a career-high 249 rushing yards en route to a 38 to 22 victory over their I-10 rival, New Mexico State.

Jones was making his first in-game appearance since suffering a season-ending ankle injury on Sept. 12, 2015 against Texas Tech.

He would not disappoint in his return scoring his second touchdown of the night on the first play of the fourth quarter, going 75 yards down the sideline crossing the end zone as he stiff armed an Aggie defender.

“I didn’t know what to expect, I was just happy to be back on the field for the first time,” Jones said. “He (head coach Sean Kugler) didn’t give me a certain number of plays.”

The 31 carries for Jones were also a career high for him, something he said he’s build his body for entering UTEP at 165-pounds as a Freshman to a now 215-pound redshirt Junior.

“I’ve grown into that role, my Freshmen year I wasn’t really the workhorse, splitting carries,” Jones said. “So I’ve worked myself into that role. I definitely pride myself in that.”

Three El Pasoans would go on to score the Miners’ first three touchdowns.

It all started with Jones, a Burges graduate, who broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run on his second carry of the game. The next two touchdowns for the Miners would be credited to Coronado’s Cole Freytag and Warren Redix of Montwood.

“I definitely did not think about that. That’s pretty cool, it definitely shows El Paso has talent,” Jones said. “Anybody who looks at the game will see that.”

Jones did it all, in addition to his rushing performance, he caught three passes for 43 yards and fielded two punts inside NMSU’s five-yard line.

“I called coach (Brian) Natkin and requested to be on punt,” Jones said. “He said, you better make some plays if you request to be on punt. I feel like anywhere I can get on the field, I’m going to try and make a play.”

Jones performance has him leading the nation in rushing after Saturday’s slate of games, edging out Georgia’s, Nick Chubb.

“I did not envision that, but I definitely wanted to come back and make a statement and show that I’m back 100 percent and healthy,” Jones said.

Kugler plans to share the workload with the rest of the running backs, but said this was a welcome back present for Jones.

“Unbelievable performance. He was just so happy to be back out there and I was just so happy for him,” Kugler said. “Probably 31 is a little bit too many, today was kind of a reward for him. He’s been out for a year.”

Jones 2016 debut was one that pleased Kugler, as the Miners now prepare to take on the Texas Longhorns as they travel to Austin Sept. 10.

“I think now, what we’re looking at is we have a capable replacement that can give him some spells in Quadraiz (Wadley) once he learns the value of ball security,” Kugler said. “We have some other capable backs in Tyrone Nelson and Kevin Dove.”

Photos by Andres Acosta

Miners Picked to Finish Fourth in Preseason Poll

The UTEP Miners were selected to finish fourth in the West Division in the 2016 Conference USA Preseason Media Football Poll the league announced on Thursday.

The Miners fell short last season of being bowl eligible finishing 5-7 overall. The squad had to overcome multiple injuries last season with 15 players having to sit out with season-ending injuries.

This season UTEP returns 47 letterwinners and 17 starters (8 offense/6 defense/3 special teams). After his third season as the head football coach, Sean Kugler made some changes to the coaching staff with the addition of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brent Pease, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Tom Mason, wide receivers coach Theron Aych, cornerbacks coach Derrius Bell and assistant special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator and safeties coach Don Yanowsky.

The Miners will be led by the return of Aaron Jones, who suffered an ankle injury last season. Jones currently ranks eighth on the program’s all-time rushing list and has accounted for 20 touchdowns in 23 games.

EAST DIVISION  

  1. Middle Tennessee
  2. WKU
  3. Marshall
  4. Florida Atlantic
  5. FIU
  6. Old Dominion
  7. Charlotte

WEST DIVISION 

  1. Southern Miss
  2. Louisiana Tech
  3. Rice
  4. UTEP
  5. UTSA
  6. North Texas

UTEP Announces 2016 Football Schedule; Miners set to play Texas, Army

UTEP Football Head Coach Sean Kugler announced the 2016 football schedule on Thursday.

“We are excited to have four of our first six games at home, including Army which will be a great game for the El Paso community and Fort Bliss,” said Kugler.

After only playing five home games last season, the Miners are slated to have seven home games during the 2016 campaign. The team will open play on Sept. 3 versus I-10 rival NM State. UTEP will look to extend its seven-game winning streak against the Aggies.

The Miners will then travel to Longhorn nation to take on Texas on Sept. 10. This will be the fifth meeting between the teams (1930, 1933, 2008, 2009). The last meeting between the squads was held in Austin and Texas was ranked second in the nation.

The football team will then return to the Sun City to take on Army on Sept. 17. This will be the first meeting between the teams and a great opportunity for the community of El Paso and Fort Bliss to come out and support UTEP and the Black Knights.

“We will open up conference play against the top two teams in our division and will be able to have a bye week during the midpoint of the season to evaluate where we are at,” said Kugler.

The Miners are then slated to commence Conference USA play at home on Sept. 24 against conference champions Southern Miss. UTEP will have two conference shows at LA Tech (Oct. 1) and versus FIU (Oct. 8) before entering its bye week (Oct. 15).

They then will travel to San Antonio to take on the Roadrunners on Oct. 29. The last time the Miners played at the Alamodome, the defense shutout UTSA, 34-0. UTEP will then have back-to-back home games battling it out against conference foe Old Dominion (Oct. 29) and Houston Baptist (Nov. 5). This will be the first meeting between the Huskies and the Miners.

UTEP will then hit the road to Boca Raton, Fla. to take on Florida Atlantic (Nov. 12) and then travel to Houston for its 19th meeting versus Rice (Nov. 19).

The Miners will conclude the season at home on Nov. 26 to battle it out against North Texas.

Season tickets and prices will be released and go on sale for the 2016 season in early March. Football season ticket renewal invoices will go out in mid-March. For more information or to purchase season tickets, please call the UTEP Season Ticket Office at (915) 747-6150.

2016 UTEP Football Schedule

Sept. 3             NEW MEXICO STATE

Sept. 10           at Texas

Sept. 17           ARMY

Sept. 24           SOUTHERN MISS*

Oct. 1              at Louisiana Tech*

Oct. 8              FIU*

Oct. 15            BYE

Oct. 22            at UTSA*

Oct. 29            OLD DOMINION*

Nov. 5             HOUSTON BAPTIST

Nov. 12           at Florida Atlantic*

Nov. 19           at Rice*

Nov. 26           NORTH TEXAS*

Home games in ALL CAPS | * Denotes C-USA Games