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Home | Tag Archives: utep football

Tag Archives: utep football

UTEP Athletics instituting Clear Bag Policy for 2020 Football Season

UTEP Athletics will be implementing a clear bag policy for all six 2020 football home games, and continuing throughout the 2020-21 athletic year including men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, soccer and softball.

The new policy is designed to expedite entry, increase safety and limit the physical contact associated with traditional bag searches.

The policy will also help to enforce social distancing protocols at security checkpoints.

Ticket holders, including children, will be allowed to enter with bags provided they meet one of these specifications:

  • Bags (including clear backpacks) that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″
  • One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar)
  • Small clutch bag approximately the size of a hand (4.5″ x 6.5″ or smaller), with or without a handle or strap. This can be carried separately or within a plastic bag
  • Medical bags that contain health necessary items are acceptable after proper inspection and approval from venue personnel/security

Fans are encouraged to only bring necessary items into UTEP Athletics venues.

The following items are prohibited and cannot be taken into the venue.  These items would either need to be disposed of, or returned to the fan’s car or residence before entering the venue:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Animals (service dogs or service dogs in training permitted)
  • Artificial noisemakers
  • Balloons
  • Bats, poles and sticks
  • Car seats and baby strollers
  • Coolers/ice chests
  • Camera lenses larger than 4″
  • E-cigarettes
  • Firearms and fireworks
  • Flags on poles
  • Glass bottles
  • Illegal drugs
  • Laser pointers
  • Lawn chairs
  • Missile-like objects
  • Objects that can be used as projectiles (i.e. balls)
  • Outside food and beverages including alcohol (exceptions will be made for those with medical requirements and/or special needs)
  • Scooters, strollers, bicycles, roller skates and skateboards
  • Tobacco products
  • Tripods, monopods and selfie sticks
  • Umbrellas
  • Unauthorized video cameras and drones
  • Water bottles (one sealed, plastic water bottle permitted per patron)
  • Weapons
  • Any object that might pose a risk to the guest or others.

CLEAR BAG POLICY FAQ

Why is UTEP Athletics implementing this policy?

UTEP Athletics regularly evaluates existing policies, practices, and procedures to determine its level of compliance with industry recognized best practices.  We determined that a revision of the policy was necessary in order to continue providing our fans the safest and most enjoyable experience.  World events continue to shape the methods utilized for venue security within UTEP Athletics and the Event Management industry.

How is the new policy more convenient for fans?

The clear bags will enable security to move fans through checkpoints much faster than in the past.  A standard size bag eliminates the need for bag templates to check bag sizes.  Clear bags allow staff to be more efficient and effective in keeping you safe by preventing dangerous items from entering the venue.

How does the new policy improve public safety?

The clear bag is easily and quickly searched and greatly reduces faulty bag searches.

How many bags can a person bring into the venue?

Each ticketed guest is permitted to bring one large clear bag, either the 12″ x 6″ x 12″ clear bag or a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag, plus a small clutch purse (5″ x 7″).  The small clutch allows privacy for small personal items and can be easily searched.

What about diaper bags?

Everything that you would put into a diaper bag must now be carried in a clear bag.  Each member of a family, including children, is allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the venue.

Can seat cushions be carried into the venue?

Seat cushions and chair backs are permissible.  Seat cushions must be 16″ in width or less.

Can fans bring blankets during cold weather?

Yes, they may bring blankets into the venue by carrying them over a shoulder or arm. These items can be screened easily.

What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?

Guests carrying bags that do not meet specifications will be asked to return them to their vehicles.

Fans parking in remote lots and/or taking alternate forms of transportation to UTEP Athletics facilities should consult UTEP Game Day policies and procedures prior to arrival in order to minimize inconveniences.

If I have items that I need to bring into the venue for medical purposes and they won’t fit in the clear bag, what do I do?

Exceptions will be made for fans with approved medical needs.  Medically necessary bags or equipment brought into a venue will be inspected and tagged by security.

For questions about medical equipment or other needs, please call the UTEP Special Events Office at (915) 747-5481.

Do I have to put everything I’m carrying into the permissible bags?

No. Limitations have been placed on the type of bags carried into the venue, not the items that are permissible. Guest can continue to carry items such as keys, makeup, women’s products, combs, phones, wallets, credit cards, cameras, binoculars, etc., in their hands or pockets if they choose not to place them in a clear bag or clutch purse (5″ x 7″). Guests can carry a blanket over their shoulders, and binoculars and/or cameras around their necks or in their hands without the case.  Guests can also carry any personal items that meet the specified criteria in the clear bag or clutch purse.

Will clear bags with patterns or oversized logos be permitted?

No.  These types of bags are prohibited as they can jeopardize the screening process by not allowing security staff to view through and inside of the bag.

NOTE: Other Conference USA institutions who have established a Clear Bag Policy include Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, UAB, UTSA and WKU.  UTEP Athletics recommends that fans traveling to other venues consult the host school’s game day policies and procedures.

UTEP Senior Running Back Quardraiz Wadley checks in for this week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

UTEP Senior Running Back Quardraiz Wadley is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

Wadley  rushed for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns for the Miners over three seasons from 2016-18.  In 2018, he put together a career year, gaining 627 yards on 123 carries with seven scores.  He also once rushed for 156 yards at Army and 111 yards versus I-10 rival NM State.

Then, his senior season, originally scheduled to take place in 2019, was washed away due to a toe injury that he suffered in offseason workouts last July.

Now, Teicher talks with Wadley about the upcoming season, his recovery and much more.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else and airs weekly on www.utepminers.com.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

UTEP Athletics announces student-athlete re-entry plan; Phased voluntary workouts begin June 15

UTEP student-athletes will return to campus for voluntary workouts in phases beginning on June 15, Director of Athletics Jim Senter announced on Thursday.

“It is important for us to bring student-athletes back to campus in a thoughtful and deliberate fashion, one that ensures we are following best practices and meeting CDC guidelines for the sake of everyone’s health and safety,” Senter said.  “We know that until a vaccine is developed, we will have to live with the virus and must learn to mitigate the risk of catching it.  Bringing Miner student-athletes back to campus is a huge step toward achieving some sense of normalcy.”

The first group of student-athletes returning to campus for voluntary workouts on June 15 will represent football and will number approximately 45.

The football numbers will gradually increase during the months of June and July.

Limited numbers of student-athletes from cross country, soccer and volleyball will be integrated for voluntary workouts beginning the week of June 22.  Limited numbers of student-athletes from men’s and women’s basketball and track and field will be integrated for voluntary workouts beginning the week of June 29.

Student-athletes from all other sports will be eligible to return to campus for voluntary workouts starting the week of July 6.

Prior to returning to campus, all student-athletes will need to complete an online questionnaire asking if they have experienced any COVID-19 symptoms over the last three months.  All student-athletes will also need to undergo a physical on campus before beginning voluntary workouts.

The Athletics Executive Team has been working with head coaches, Sports Medicine Staff and Strength and Conditioning Staff to perform an analysis of all facilities and determine organization of voluntary workouts including student-athlete ingress/egress, maximum capacity per area to ensure that social distancing is being practiced, and other safety protocols.

All student-athletes will undergo a daily wellness screening prior to entering athletics facilities, at which time their temperature will be taken and they will be asked recommended medical questions.

Student-athletes who pass the screening will receive a different colored bracelet each day that they will need to wear to gain access to the facility.

Student-athletes will be split into groups to ensure that social distancing is being practiced at all times.  Student-athletes will be required to wear a face mask when inside all athletics facilities.  Student-athletes will not need to wear a face mask for outdoor workouts provided social distancing is being practiced.

All facilities will be marked with signage to specify COVID-19 symptoms, how to guard against contracting the virus, social distancing protocols, entrance and exit points.  Access to the training room and coaches’ offices will be by appointment only and locker room access will be limited to small groups for short periods of time.

Social distancing will be practiced in all areas, including the weight room.

While in the weight room, student-athletes will be required to bring their own water bottle and will not share with others.  All strength and conditioning voluntary workouts will limit the sharing of equipment, and all equipment will be sanitized following each use.

Equipment managers will wash face masks daily following voluntary workouts.  Each student-athlete will receive two face masks, one for the day’s workout and the other for the next day’s workout.  All facilities will be cleaned/sanitized following the departure of each group of student-athletes.

Any student-athlete who is ill and/or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 is required to refrain from entering athletics facilities and contact Sports Medicine personnel immediately for testing.

All student-athletes or staff who test positive for COVID-19, along with those they have come into immediate contact with, will be subject to mandatory quarantine based on CDC guidelines.

Per NCAA rules, only strength and conditioning coaches and Sports Medicine personnel (athletic trainers) are permitted to observe voluntary workouts.  It is impermissible for sports coaches and staff, as well as media members, to attend voluntary workouts.

Super Bowl Champion Head Coach Andy Reid guests on the “Picks Up Podcast”

This week’s “Picks Up Podcast” features a very special visitor: Super Bowl Champion Head Coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs.

In this week’s installment, coach Reid – a former assistant coach at UTEP in the ’80s – talks about his prolific career, including guiding the Chiefs to a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV earlier this year.

Hosted by “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher, the podcast airs weekly on www.utepminers.com, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

Legendary Miner Running Back Fred Wendt passes away

All-American running back Fred Wendt, who set UTEP records with 326 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns versus New Mexico State on November 25, 1948, has passed away.

Wendt died on Monday (May 18), just two months shy of his 96th birthday.  He was born on July 15, 1924 in Las Cruces.

He attended school in Lubbock and Amarillo before moving to El Paso in 1938.  He graduated from Austin High School in 1942 before entering Texas College of Mines (now UTEP).  Wendt played for the Miners in 1942 and from 1946-48, sandwiched around a stint in the Army during World War II.  He lettered in track and football at Texas College of Mines.

Wendt’s college football career produced 283 carries for 2,166 yards and 23 touchdowns.  He ranks first in the Miner record book in yards per attempt (7.65), sixth in rushing touchdowns, and 10th in rushing yards.

Wendt rushed for 1,546 yards, the third-top seasonal output in school history, in 1948, while also setting the school standard with 20 rushing scores.  He rushed for 100+ yards eight times in a Miner uniform.

Upon graduation he held the NCAA record for single-season rushing yards, single-season scoring (152 points), single-game rushing (326 vs. NMSU) and single-game scoring (42 vs. NMSU).

He is one of only two Miners to rush for 300 yards in a game, alongside current Green Bay Packers star Aaron Jones, who achieved the feat with 301 yards versus North Texas in 2016.

Wendt’s record-breaking performance versus New Mexico State in 1948 resulted in a 92-7 Miner victory.  UTEP team records for points, touchdowns (14) and rushing yards (645) were established in that game and still stand to this day.

Wendt was also the Miners’ leading punter during the 1946, 1947 and 1948 seasons.

A two-time All-American (1947 and 1948), Wendt was inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.  He is also a member of the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame.  In 2008, he was chosen as a member of the 75th Anniversary All Sun Bowl Team.  He rushed for a game-high 92 yards on 15 carries in the 1949 Sun Bowl Game versus West Virginia.

Wendt is survived by his wife of 70 years, Dorris, three daughters, and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.​

Jordan Palmer checks in for this Week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

Former UTEP star and quarterback guru Jordan Palmer is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

In this week’s installment, Palmer reflects on his time at UTEP, talks about his family and his current role of mentoring signal-callers.

The “Picks Up Podcast” airs weekly on www.utepminers.com, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, please visit the UTEP Miners podcast page.

UTEP Football Head Coach Dana Dimel joins Jon Teicher on “Picks Up Podcast”

UTEP Football Head Coach Dana Dimel is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

In this week’s installment, coach Dimel discusses how he, his staff and team are preparing for the 2020 season with a large portion of the country sheltering at home due to COVID-19.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

The “Picks Up Podcast” airs weekly on www.utepminers.com, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

UTEP Athletics “Picks Up Podcast” premieres

The brand-new “Picks Up Podcast” made its debut Thursday on UTEP Athletics’ official website.

The “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.  Hosted by long-time “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher, “Picks Up Podcast” kicks off with a visit from Jim Senter who, like his fellow collegiate Athletic Directors, is navigating unique and challenging times due to the onset of COVID-19.

“I look forward to sharing additional Miner content in a new form with those who enjoy UTEP Athletics,” Teicher said.

The “Picks Up Podcast” will air weekly online, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

UTEP Football Season Ticket Transactions Moving to phone, online service

Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the UTEP Football Season Ticket Office is closed to in-person visits and football renewals/new sales will be conducted solely over the phone and online.

Regular business hours of Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. will continue to be in effect.  Fans can call (915) 747-6150 or email seasontickets@utep.edu to renew or request new season tickets, or they can do so online.

In addition, the 2020 UTEP Football Season Ticket Timeline has been updated.  The season ticket renewal deadline has been pushed back from April 10 to May 1.

The full timeline is available via the UTEP Miners ticket page.

Sun Bowl premium seating (indoor club boxes/loge boxes/outdoor club seats) information is available by calling (915) 747-8759.

The Miners will open the 2020 season at home versus Texas Tech on Sept. 5.

UTEP’s Baechle leaving kicking game on solid footing

The UTEP football team is facing a number of questions this spring.  Who is the starting quarterback?  How will a host of junior college transfers be integrated into the defense?  Will the defense be significantly better this fall?  One question that isn’t being asked, however, is if the Miners have a reliable field goal and extra point kicker.

The answer is a resounding ‘yes.’

Gavin Baechle has been nothing short of sensational in his first two years in the Orange and Blue.  As a freshman in 2018, he handled kickoffs and rated second in Conference USA with a 63.9 average.  Then, a year ago, he added field goals and PATs to his list of responsibilities and fared well.  He converted 13-of-16 field goal tries and was automatic (8-for-8) from inside 40 yards, as well as a perfect 22-for-22 on point after attempts.

“I was really happy with what I did on field goals,” he said.  “We went from the bottom of Conference USA [in 2018] to fifth or sixth, which was definitely a big improvement.  Last year I was a little affected doing both [kickoffs and field goals] because after the fifth or sixth game, I did something to my groin and my kickoffs weren’t as good as they were the year before.  I just had to work through that.  By the end of the season, I was basically back to where I was.”

Baechle finished the 2019 season with 42 kickoffs averaging 57.5 yards, and 22 touchbacks.

If there was a hole in Baechle’s game, he was 0-for-3 on field goals of 47+ yards (he was 13-for-13 from 46 yards or less).  He missed from 47 yards versus Texas Tech and NM State, and 50 yards against Rice.  He’s working on hitting consistently from distance this spring.

“The focus for me has definitely been longer field goals,” he said.  “We didn’t really do too many of those last fall.  Whenever we had a meeting, we talked about what I could work on.  And long field goals was one of the main points.  For kickoffs, it was basically about being more consistent and what I could do to stay healthy, which I wasn’t last year.”

One thing Baechle and his position coach, Joe Robinson, didn’t have to spend much time talking about was the punting game.  Mitchell Crawford was entrenched as the Miners’ punter the last two years, but he has left the program to use his final year of eligibility as a grad transfer at Michigan State.

You would imagine that Baechle taking over the punting duties this fall would not be an ideal situation.  But he’s ready for anything.

“I’m all for taking that role,” He said.  “You know what they say, if a man goes down, the next man has to step up and do it.  If it comes down to it, and even if [coach Dana Dimel] brings in a punter, I’m going to do my best to try to beat him out and take all three spots.”

Baechle is accustomed to doing it all – he handled every area of the kicking game as a prep at McKinney (Texas) High School.

“That’s pretty standard,” he said.  “So coming from there, I wanted to do all three [in college].  But, of course, we had a punter already.

“In high school, I punted every single year.  My freshman year, I was on the freshman team.  My sophomore year, I was on varsity.  I did all three and all three well.  For my junior and senior year, I got first team All-District for punting.  And then here [at UTEP], every year I’ve been Mitch’s backup.  So I’ve always had to be ready just in case anything was to happen.  I would still punt during practice, but not the games.  So I feel like if the time comes and I need to do it, I will be fine.”

Baechle punted 69 times in high school for 2,372 yards (34.4 avg.).  He averaged 36.5 yards on 31 punts as a senior in 2017.

Who knows if punting is in Baechle’s future.  But he’ll continue working hard this spring in order to be well prepared for the fall.

“I’m working on a lot of accuracy drills to make sure I still hit a straight ball and it goes through the uprights, whether it’s a long or short field goal,” He said.  “With kickoffs, I’m just trying to stay consistent, and be able to hit touchbacks like it’s nothing.  And if I have to punt this year, I just want to be able to put the ball wherever we need to, and help out the cover team as much as possible.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now.  Renewals will be accepted online until April 10 here, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, click here.

UTEP Secondary gets boost from return of injured starters

 The UTEP football team’s defensive struggles last season can be traced as much to who wasn’t on the field as to who was playing.

The safety position in particular was hard hit by injuries, as two projected starters entering fall camp, Broderick Harrell and Justin Prince, combined to appear in just four games.

Harrell hasn’t played in a game for the Miners since earning a start in the 2018 season finale against Southern Miss.  He suffered a torn Retinaculum in his ankle two weeks prior to the start of 2019 fall camp and missed the entire campaign.  Prince was on his way to a banner year (27 tackles in the first four games) last season before breaking his foot when it got caught in the turf on a goal line play at Southern Miss.

Following an intense rehab, Harrell and Prince are back this spring and have impressed the Miners’ new secondary and safeties coach, Josh Brown.

“Both of them are extremely hard workers,” Brown said.  “Both of them want to be great.  And when you want to be great and you have a work ethic, usually it turns out pretty good.”

Last year Harrell underwent surgery and was in a cast for eight weeks.  The ankle didn’t heal quite fast enough for him to return late in the season.

“It was hard on me because mentally I wanted to play,” he said.  “I had never missed a season like that.  I wanted to play with my brothers and I felt like I could help them out a lot.”

Prince had a wicked premonition that playing on the M.M. Roberts Stadium turf would bring disaster.

“I prefer grass but the crazy thing is, at the Friday walkthrough the day before the game, I said the field was pretty bad,” he said.  “So I wished a little bad luck on it and I paid the price.”

Prince managed to avoid surgery, but the recovery process was no less grueling and he’s still not quite at 100 percent (though he’s close).

“I spent a lot of time in the training room,” he said.  “That was basically my second home.

“I’ve played through injuries before, but this one really set me back.  I just knew I had to trust the process.”

Fortunately, Harrell and Prince could lean on one another during their year without football as both teammates and roommates.

“We’re similar; we like a lot of the same things,” Prince said.  “We look the same, we have the same stature [Harrell is 5-11, 210 pounds; Prince is 5-10, 200 pounds].  He got hurt first last year.  And then I got hurt.  It’s weird.  It was probably meant to be that we’re both on the field at the same time.”

“We both had a good spring last year and we both got hurt, so that brought us a little bit closer,” Harrell said.  “He’s my brother off the field.  I love him.”

Now, Harrell and Prince find themselves in the odd position of returning to the field and being thrust into the role of elder statesmen in the UTEP secondary.

“We’re basically the older guys with J. Rog [Justin Rogers] and Champ [Michael Lewis] out of the program now,” Prince said.  “So we have to bring the young guys up and set the example every day in the meeting room and on the practice field.”

Last year Harrell and Prince were understudies to Rogers, who became the first Miner to post an interception in four separate seasons since Quintin Demps (2004-07).

“He taught us how to be 100 percent accountable every day, and how to lead,” Harrell said.  “He studied the game like it was homework, like it was a book.”

“He’s really football smart and he was always teaching me the game,” Prince said.  “Just sitting next to him in film, asking questions all of the time and seeing what he saw on the field was huge.”

While they’re taking on more of a leadership role this year, Harrell and Prince are also continuing to learn from their new position coach Brown, who was formerly an accomplished defensive coordinator at Cal Poly.

“He’s a great guy,” Prince said.  “He’s trying to make things simpler for us.  He’s done a really good job with teaching us techniques that will make it easier in our coverages.”

“He’s taught me a lot in three weeks,” Harrell said.  “New techniques, but he also taught me to trust in myself more and believe that I’m a better athlete than the guy lined up across from me.”

Brown watched a lot of film on the 2019 Miners after accepting the job in early February.  It sounds like he’s got a good handle on his personnel after only five spring practices.

“As a secondary, the defensive backs in general, we need to improve on our man technique,” he said.  “I think they’re pretty good zone players, and we’ve gotten pretty good reactions and breaks off of the quarterback.  But our man technique has got to continue to get better, and we’ve got to continue learning how to play all the different combinations of man.”

Last year, UTEP’s pass break ups dropped from 41 to 33, and the Miners collected only five interceptions as a team for a second straight year.  Getting both of those numbers up will be paramount to an improved defensive effort in 2020.  Brown is fully aware of that, and he’s working on it.

“What we do every day before practice is we get out here and we do our wiffle ball drills,” he said.  “And all we’re working on is punchouts for 10 minutes with wiffle balls.  We’re up to 15 or 20 punchouts and five or six interceptions from just the safeties in five practices.  We’re keeping track of them and we’re making an emphasis of getting the ball out.  Pass breakups and interceptions are key to our success as a defense.”

The Miners are counting on vast defensive improvement this fall.  And if that happens, Harrell and Prince are sure to play a big part in it.

“No limits,” Harrell said.  “There aren’t any expectations and there are no limits.  We’re trying to blow it out of the water next year.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now;  renewals will be accepted online until April 10, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, click here.

Miners land reinforcements to help fix defense for 2020

UTEP was a solid defensive football team in 2018.  The Miners ranked fifth in Conference USA, allowing 198.9 passing yards per game.  Overall UTEP yielded 394.7 yards per contest, a number good enough to win with.

However, the defense fell on hard times in 2019 following the loss of playmakers like A.J. Hotchkins and Nik Needham.  UTEP surrendered 430.8 yards per game, the second-highest total in C-USA, and 35.9 yards per outing, last in the league.

“It was a combination of a lot of things,” UTEP defensive coordinator Mike Cox said.  “I didn’t coach good, we lost some key players, and we didn’t play right at times.  That’s the biggest thing that we’re emphasizing right now, to own up to our assignments and not bust ourselves.  We did that [in 2018].  We didn’t make our own busts, and we played ok.  That’s what we’ve got to get back to.  We’ve got to be very consistent.  And the emphasis this spring is to be consistent about our jobs, get off blocks and play with tenacity.”

If the Miners are going to improve their win-loss record in 2020, they’ll need to be able to stop people.  They struggled to do that a year ago, but they also lost some key personnel from that squad.

“In order to replace those guys, we went the junior college route and we were very lucky and very fortunate to get guys who could come right now rather than after the spring,” Cox said.  “So they’re all here and showing a lot of promise.  We needed these guys to get our depth back to where it needed to be.”

Specifically, the Miners brought in DB Dennis Barnes (Fort Scott CC), DB Verenzo Holmes (NW Mississippi CC), LB Tyrice Knight (Independence CC), DT Kelton Moss (Kilgore College), DT Keenan Stewart (Iowa Western CC), DE Jadrian Taylor (Kilgore College), LB Gary Theard (Chaffey College) and DE Deylon Williams (Independence CC).

“The thing that we liked about them, number one, is their character,” Cox said.  “We really emphasized the character of these guys, and then matched it with their athletic ability and the football playing side of it.  We really like all of the guys that we brought in.  First and foremost they’re great people, they’re hard workers and they can learn.  They’ve gone about all of this the right way.  And we’re proud of that.  The biggest thing that we’re trying to figure out is where they fit in with this defense.  That’s what we’re trying to do this spring, plug them in where they’re going to help us win.”

If the Miners are going to make major strides this fall, they’ll need several of their returning players to ramp up their production as well.  And Cox likes what he has seen from his core through two days of spring ball.

“The last couple of days, [cornerback] Duron Lowe has done a really nice job,” Cox said.  “He has really stepped up his game.  The same with [cornerback] Josh Caldwell.  I think having our two safeties back healthy means a lot.  We didn’t have two starters last year in [Broderick] Harrell and [Justin] Prince.  Getting them back has added some stability to that position.  [Linebacker] Stephen Forester is very consistent, and a great role model and leader for our team.  Those are the main guys, plus a couple of guys who played up front.  [Defensive Tackle] Josh Ortega brings great leadership.  So if all those guys continue to grow with the leadership part, we change our attitude on defense, play with a lot more tenacity and do things the right way, we’ll improve vastly.”

The Miners have also altered their approach to spring ball and their schematics to produce better results in 2020.  First of all, fans will see hitting and tackling in practice, something they didn’t a year ago at this time.

“Last year, we were concerned because we had been hit by injuries so much the year before.  That’s why I didn’t do it last year,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said.  “But this year, just watching how we tackled and our angles that we took on Saturdays, I thought it was better for us to get more live tackling.  I thought it would improve our tackling angles and our body positions on tackling.”

The Miners have also switched their base alignment from a 3-4 to a 4-3.

“One of our big goals is to create more pass rush and be able to get to the quarterback better,” Dimel said.  “We feel like by getting our guys spread out and covering up defensive linemen a little bit more, that we’re going to be able to create some pass rush angles for our defensive ends.”

All of this should add up to some spirited workouts this spring.

“I think coach Dimel decided that we’ve got to get more physical,” Cox said.  “We’re tackling and today you saw some 1’s versus 1’s [in practice].  The guys enjoy it I’m sure, and all we want to do is get better.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now.  Renewals will be accepted online until April 10 here, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit the UTEP Miners ticket page.

Two for ‘Q’: Wadley Returns with New Number, New Motivation

UTEP Football fans that set foot on Glory Field to watch spring drills may notice the return of a familiar face.

It’s Quardraiz Wadley, version 2.0.

Remember him?  He rushed for 1,072 yards and eight touchdowns for the Miners over three seasons from 2016-18.  In 2018, he put together a career year, gaining 627 yards on 123 carries with seven scores.

This is a man who once rushed for 156 yards at Army and 111 yards versus I-10 rival NM State.

Then, his senior season, originally scheduled to take place in 2019, was washed away due to a toe injury that he suffered in offseason workouts last July.

“It was a really freak accident,” he said.  “I was doing a normal drill that I had done plenty of times before.  My toe just snapped out of place, and when it snapped I tore the ligaments that connect my toe to my foot.  So I had to get all of that repaired.  We thought it was going to be a short six weeks, and I’d be back.”

It all sounded so harmless, but it turned out to be a huge deal for a guy whose game is predicated on speed.

“It turned into a six month [recovery],” he said.  “I had to fly out to L.A. to get the surgery, because we couldn’t find anyone to do it here.  But we got it taken care of.  It’s getting a lot better and I should be ready to go full contact here pretty soon, in two or three weeks.”

So Wadley’s life in the fall and winter consisted of a bunch of rehab and treatments from the training staff.

This week, he was on the practice field with his teammates once again.  And considering he missed 2019 spring ball with an ankle injury, it has been quite the early-awaited comeback.

“It’s been really hard [sitting out], but my teammates have been lifting me up,” he said.  “They wanted me to mentor the younger guys.  So I found something to replace playing.

“I’m really excited,” he added.  “It feels good to be back with my teammates.  It feels good to actually be out here doing stuff instead of watching.  And I’m just ready to make a difference.”

Wadley isn’t all the way back.  He has been limited to no-contact drills thus far, and his toe still feels stiff.  But he’s getting there.

“It’s everything but contact until I can get the soreness to go away.  And then we’ll hit it harder,” he said.  “Over time, the stiffness will go away with running activities.  And I’m working on strengthening the muscles around my foot from being in the cast for so long.  That’s my main focus right now.”

Wadley has changed numbers this spring.  He used to be in the #4 jersey, and now he’s wearing #2.  But this isn’t about Quardraiz Wadley 2.0.  It’s something far more significant.

“I just felt like it was time for a new identity,” he said.  “I was #2 in high school.  And then I told Luke I would wear #2 if he wasn’t able to play again.”

Luke Laufenberg was a sophomore tight end on the Miners’ 2019 spring roster that passed away last August after battling cancer.  He was 21 years old.

Wadley was one of many Miners that were touched by the courage and fight of Luke.

“He was such a good soul,” he said.  “He tried to make people smile.  Nothing negative ever came out of his mouth.  He was a hard worker and a guy who just wanted to play football.  We knew his story, but he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him.  He just showed us that he was a fighter, and that was the persona that he lived with.

“I do feel a sense of responsibility [wearing his number],” he added.  “Last year we were pretty close and I made a promise to him that I would wear it if he could never play again, and play through him.”

With Laufenberg serving as an inspirational force, Wadley is hoping to close out his career in style this fall.  He believes the Miners have the makings of a solid offensive football team with a more athletic line and a deep backfield that consists not only of himself, but native El Pasoans Josh Fields and Deion Hankins.

“I’m excited about the offensive line,” he said.  “We’ve got some young guys who I think are going to be able to step in and help us right away.  And our running back position runs really deep.  We all complement each other.  I’m excited for what’s in store for us this upcoming season.”

Wadley is also excited about working in tandem with his new position coach, Barrick Nealy.

“He’s really good,” he said.  “He’s a former quarterback, so we get a different perspective from him.  We’re just learning from each other.  He brings some good tips to the table because he has been in our shoes playing before.  It’s a good fit for us.”

Fans can renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season now.

Renewals will be accepted online until April 10 here, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For more information, click here.

All eyes on the Quarterbacks as UTEP opens Spring Drills

The UTEP football team launched 2020 Spring Ball on Tuesday morning at Glory Field, as the day’s heavy rains held off long enough for the Miners to get in their first two hours of drills.

“I was really happy with the energy and the excitement that the guys brought to the table,” third-year UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said.  “Obviously there are new faces that we’re bringing into the fold, so I thought for the most part they did a nice job.  That’s going to be the big thing, seeing how these new guys develop.”

Another area of focus – and perhaps THE area of focus for the casual observer – is the evolution at the quarterback position, since last year’s starters, Brandon Jones and Kai Locksley, have exhausted their eligibility.  Senior Isaiah Bravo, sophomore Calvin Brownholtz, redshirt freshman T.J. Goodwin and sophomore Gavin Hardison are part of a four-man derby to determine who will start under center when the Miners take the field for the 2020 opener versus Texas Tech on Sept. 5.

“Equal reps for [all four] today and tomorrow,” Dimel said.  “And then we’ll analyze the first two days on Thursday and start making our rotations.  We’ll start critiquing them, grading them, and as they grade one through four, the number one will get the most reps and so on.”

The quartet has combined to attempt 37 passes for the Miners – all from Hardison, who saw action in two games (at UAB, versus Rice) a year ago before redshirting.  Brownholtz is next in line in terms of experience; he has appeared in 11 games for UTEP but has yet to throw a ball under the lights.  Bravo and Goodwin may be younger, but all the signal-callers have talent.

“They bring different things to the table,” Dimel said.  “We know that Gavin can throw the football.  We want to develop his ability to run and process the offense.  We want T.J. to get more experience running the offense and enhance his ability to run the football as well.  Isaiah is someone we haven’t talked about a whole lot, but he’s got some ability to throw the ball.  He has been a starter at the junior college level and has had success.  And Calvin is a really hard worker, a gym rat who does a lot of positive things.  He can be a good runner of the football and we want him to work on that part of his game, but also work on his understanding of the offense.”

In 21 games for Cerritos College, Bravo passed for 3,333 yards and 32 touchdowns with only 13 interceptions.  He is enjoying the excitement of a true quarterback battle.

“We’re all really competitive and we know that the best man is going to play, but at the same time we’re all trying to help each other be the best versions of ourselves,” he said.  “There’s no stalling each other out.  We’re going to go at each other every day.”

Goodwin was a decorated prep player at Cypress Falls High School in Houston, throwing for 3,106 yards and 19 TDs.  He feels infinitely more comfortable in year two in the Sun City.

“I came in last year at this time and I really didn’t know defensive structures, how to check in and out of defense and where I wanted to go with the ball,” he said.  “Now I feel a lot more confident.”

Hardison made an impressive Miner debut at UAB, throwing for 222 yards and a touchdown against one of Conference USA’s elite defenses.  Like Goodwin, he’s much more at ease with his second stint in the Orange and Blue.

“I feel more experienced,” he said.  “But at the same time, you can never be satisfied.  I need to keep working, keep learning the offense.  You never know enough.  The guys in the [NFL], they’re still studying every day.  For me, I just need to keep studying and keep acting like I don’t know the offense.”

Hardison said his two appearances in 2019 were invaluable.

“It was big for me, just to see what the game speed is like,” he said.  “It was fun.  But at the same time, we didn’t come out with a win in those two games.  For me to know what that feels like, to be in a game and come out with some experience, was huge for me.”

Brownholtz is four years removed from his senior year at Jesuit High School in Carmichael, Calif., when he threw for 2,333 yards and 26 TDs with only 10 picks.  He also brings the built-in advantage of being in Dimel’s system for a third year.  But he recognizes he still has work to do.

“In terms of my game, it’s about not only reading when to run and throw the football, but when do you keep it and what not,” he said.  “It’s about picking up on coverages, blitzes and pressure checks, but the biggest thing is probably reading coverages and fronts and knowing the ins and outs of the defense.”

After Jones and Locksley entered last year’s camp as the heavy favorites to earn the starting nod, this race feels wide open and it’s thrilling for the contenders.

“Whatever you do is really up to you,” Goodwin said.  “How you perform is going to determine whether you get on the field or not.  I feel like if I go out and take care of business, the rest is going to take care of itself.”

“It’s what you want, to compete and have people push you,” Hardison said.

“I love it, it’s awesome,” Brownholtz said.  “Competition brings out the best in all the quarterbacks.  I love T.J., Gavin and Isaiah.  They are all great guys.  But we’re all fighting for that starting job.  I’m excited and just like them, I’m looking for that number one spot.”

UTEP Football Spring Drills to Kick Off on Tuesday, March 3

The UTEP football team will launch year three under coach Dana Dimel with its first practice of the spring on Tuesday, March 3 from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Glory Field.

The Miners will have 14 spring practices – the majority of which fall on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – leading into the Spring Game on Saturday, April 11 at 11 a.m. at a location to be determined.  All UTEP football spring practices are open to the public.

UTEP returns 36 lettermen for the 2020 campaign – 18 on offense, 16 on defense, one kicker and one punter.  The Miners welcome back four regular starters on offense (WR Jacob Cowing, LG Bobby DeHaro, LT Zuri Henry, RG Elijah Klein) and five regular starters on defense (DE Praise Amaewhule, CB Josh Caldwell, CB Duron Lowe, S Justin Prince, LB Jayson VanHook).

Nine members of the Miners’ 2020 signing class who transferred in from other programs will be with the team for spring drills – DB Dennis Barnes (Fort Scott CC), WR Q Drennan (New Mexico), DB Verenzo Holmes (NW Mississippi CC), LB Tyrice Knight (Independence CC), DT Kelton Moss (Kilgore College), DT Keenan Stewart (Iowa Western CC), DE Jadrian Taylor (Kilgore College), LB Gary Theard (Chaffey College) and DE Deylon Williams (Independence CC).

The coaching staff also has a new look this spring with Josh Brown taking over as secondary/safeties coach, and NFL veteran Trevin Wade being installed as cornerbacks coach.  Holdover Barrick Nealy is the Miners’ new running backs coach.

Evaluating the candidates to supplant Kai Locksley as the Miners’ starting quarterback tops the list of offensive priorities this spring.  The contenders, in alphabetical order, are senior Isaiah Bravo, sophomore Calvin Brownholtz, freshman TJ Goodwin and sophomore Gavin Hardison.

“I’m really looking forward to watching these guys insert themselves into the offense and get a firm grasp of what we’re doing,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said.  “All four of them could improve their stock this spring.”

The Miners return five players with starting experience in the offensive line (Jeremiah Byers, DeHaro, Henry, Klein, Darta Lee) but will need to replace Derron Gatewood, who made 34 starts at center for UTEP.  Building depth in the wide receivers corps will also be a priority after Cowing and Justin Garrett both came on strong to close out the 2019 campaign.

“We feel like we’re going to be more athletic on the offensive line and we feel like we’ve got a really nice group of wide receivers, and the big thrust will be getting those guys to rise up and create a solid two deep for us leaving spring ball,” Dimel said.

The Miners will integrate a host of new players into a defense that struggled last season.  The competition figures to be fierce with a number of starting spots up for grabs.

“We brought in a bunch of new guys and we’re excited to see what they can do,” Dimel said.  “We feel like we’ve got a chance to be really good up front.  Two of our penciled in starters, Praise Amaewhule and Josh Ortega, will miss spring.  That will allow us to get some of the younger guys some reps.”

Amaewhule was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team last year after tying for first on the squad with 5.5 tackles for losses and three sacks.  Other top returnees on defense are Caldwell, who registered 11 pass breakups in 2019, and Prince, who was credited with 27 tackles in only four games before breaking his foot.

“The linebacker position will be fun to watch as we see what our new guys bring to the table, and monitor the maturation of last year’s redshirts,” Dimel said.  “And of course, our secondary play is so critical.  We brought in a couple of guys there as well, plus we have some guys that we redshirted and others that were injured last year.”

Fans now have the opportunity to renew their UTEP Football Season Tickets, or request new season tickets for the 2020 season.  Fans will have until April 10 to renew their tickets, paying in full or enrolling in a payment plan.

Renewals will be accepted online here, by calling (915) 747-6150, or by visiting the UTEP Athletics Season Ticket Office, located in Room 109 of the Brumbelow Building next to the Don Haskins Center, Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the 2020 football seating map, ticket prices and the sales timeline, go online.  For additional UTEP Football Season Ticket information, please call (915) 747-6150 or email seasontickets@utep.edu.

The Miners will open the 2020 season at home against Big 12 power Texas Tech on Sept. 5 at 7 p.m.

UTEP Football 2020 Spring Practice Schedule (All practices from 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Glory Field)

 

Practice #1                              Tuesday, March 3

Practice #2                              Wednesday, March 4

Practice #3                              Friday, March 6

Practice #4                              Monday, March 9

Practice #5                              Wednesday, March 11

                                                2020 Pro Day – 9 a.m.

Practice #6                              Friday, March 13

Practice #7                              Monday, March 23

Practice #8                              Wednesday, March 25

Practice #9                              Friday, March 27

Practice #10                            Monday, March 30

Practice #11                            Wednesday, April 1

Practice #12                            Friday, April 3

Practice #13                            Monday, April 6

Practice #14                            Wednesday, April 8

Spring Game                           Saturday, April 11, 11 a.m. – location TBD

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