EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Under fifth-year head coach Dana Dimel, UTEP has typically been able to eat up yards on the ground.
However, in the Miners’ 31-13 loss to North Texas to open the 2022 season, that wasn’t necessarily the case. The Miners managed just 107 total rushing yards on 30 carries vs. the Mean Green for an average of only 3.5 yards per carry.
UTEP especially struggled to run the ball in the red zone, something Dimel pointed out in his postgame press conference and again on Monday. In three trips inside the 20-yard line, the Miners managed only six points on a pair of field goals. UTEP knows it must improve its ground attack if it’s going to get back to a bowl game in 2022.
“Just get more physical with what we’re doing, more than anything. I think we have an offensive line that is equipped to run the football, I really do. I think we just stay to what we do and work with better pad level and physicality. We’ve got good running backs, we’ve got good fullbacks, good blocking tight ends and a good offensive line. The ingredients are all there,” said Dimel.
Coming into the season, the twin-headed attack of Ronald Awatt and Deion Hankins was expected to run wild. However, in game one they were held in check by the Mean Green, combining for just 63 yards on 18 carries.
Both players have played a major role in UTEP’s offense the last two seasons; the Miners have to get something from one or both of them in order operate at their best.
“We just need to get it cleaned up and have better execution. I’m not alarmed that we’re not going to be able to run the football this year,” said Dimel. “I think it was a game that really we should have done a better job of taking advantage at what they were giving us. There will be games that if people allow us to run the ball, then we’ll run it well. Then, if they take it away we’ll hurt them more so in the passing game.”
The run game may not pick up this week as the Miners go on the road to face No. 9 Oklahoma and new head coach Brent Venables, who won multiple national championships as Clemson’s defensive coordinator.
While the improvements may not come vs. the Sooners, they have to at some point this fall. UTEP and OU will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday on FOX.