RUIDOSO, N.M. – The Miners overcame rainy weather conditions and underwent a physical two-hour practice on the second full day of the team’s stay at the MCM Eleganté Lodge & Resort in Ruidoso.
A point of emphasis for UTEP this fall is replacing seven starters on the defensive side of the ball, a tall task for second-year defensive coordinator Mike Cox, who enters the 2019 season looking to fill the void after losing his top four tacklers from a season ago.
Through the first few days of fall camp, Cox is optimistic about where his unit his headed and the goals for the upcoming season.
“We have to create more turnovers,” Cox said. “That is the biggest thing we talked about in the offseason. We have to create more turnovers and be more disruptive. There are some key pieces we are replacing at the safety position. We obviously lost some guys at the corner position. We lost two good players there from last year, but I like the effort and where we are at with guys like Robert Corner, Josh Caldwell and Duron Lowe. Those guys had a good day today, so they will continue to improve. We lost linebacker A.J. Hotchkins from a year ago, but I think Jayson VanHook is doing a very good job and I look for us to not skip a beat there.”
Despite losing some key guys, the 2019 Miners will turn to a handful of pivotal playmakers, including seniors Denzel Chukwukelu (DL), Chris Richardson (DL) and Justin Rogers (DB), who Cox said has taken on a more commanding role on defense this year.
“He has great leadership,” Cox said of his impressions of Rogers early on this fall.
“He has stepped it up a notch and we need it from him. We need all the leaders to take an interest like he has. It is helping the other guys. He holds those guys accountable. It is special when it comes from a leader and not just from a coach.”
Although there will be a few familiar names and faces returning on defense this season, the UTEP defense will feature plenty of newcomers after the team lost a significant amount of production from the 2018 squad.
“We are very impressed with all of our newcomers like the new junior college guys like Corner and Lowe,” Cox noted. “At safety, we have Ty’reke James, who is doing a nice job. The new guys on defense like Jalen Rudolph, McKel Broussard and Jerome Wilson – all those young guys are doing a nice job and they are going to be good players for us. We are excited about the future and to know where they are going to fit in right now. We will have to see how fall camp plays out.”
The Miners return to the practice fields at 9:35 a.m. on Wednesday at the MCM Eleganté Lodge & Resort in Ruidoso, New Mexico. UTEP will practice in Ruidoso for the remainder of the week before heading back to campus on Sunday.
UTEP Football Season Tickets are on sale now and prices have been reduced at all levels from the 2018 season. The UTEP Season Ticket Office is located at Brumbelow Building Room 109 (next to the Don Haskins Center).
Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online, or by calling (915) 747-6150.
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