Inconsistent play at quarterback holding UTEP offense back


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP head coach Dana Dimel spoke with the media Monday in advance of the team’s Conference USA opener at Southern Miss on Saturday, Sept. 28 at M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.

Head Coach Dana Dimel

Opening comments:

“I was visiting with the team this morning about our game this weekend and we talked about a lot of things. Obviously, there was a lot to talk about that went on within the ball game. After going back and critiquing the first three quarters of the game, there were not many scenarios that wouldn’t had to have changed for us to be ahead 35-10 or 28-17 at the end of the third quarter. That is really a positive for our football team. I want them to understand the positives that came from that game.”

On eliminating mistakes:

“When it was tied up 14-14, we had the turnover that led to them being able to lead at halftime, which was a huge play. We have to be much better at what we are doing and eliminate that. Just throwing the ball in a bad spot and getting a turnover like that was very costly for us. It led to a score from them and to them having a lead at half. I did like the way our defense responded at the end of the half with getting the turnover to end the half, so now we go into halftime with a 7-point ball game.”

On the 17-play drive to start the second half:

“The drive to start the second half was a 17-play, 10-minute drive. That is championship football. That is how you win championships. It is being able to grind out the clock and control the ball and basically a third of what is left of the football game got eaten up on one drive and culminated in a touchdown. That was a big, big series for us that really showed some of the strides that we are making as a football team. Again, we were going against an upper echelon Mountain West Conference team. After that, the defense let them move the ball downfield with a quarterback draw play and a couple broken plays that they had that they executed, and then our defense held them to a field goal. Then we get the big kickoff return, now we are going to have the ball at the 45-yard line and stay within what we were doing well – run the football and have a great chance to tie or take the lead with a couple first downs or a touchdown – but we get the penalty. That was kind of a big thing because now we are backed up and end up having a turnover from the situation. You start looking at things in detail when you really start to look at the football game. A lot of things could have been different, but the things that we can control like penalties and turnovers are the things that cost us the ball game in the long run. We eliminate some of those things and it could a 28- or 30-point victory for us in that ball game. That is how close it was to us having a really good day in regard to game three.”

On fixing the mistakes made against Nevada:

“With that being said, that leads us into getting those things fixed. We have to work hard on getting those things fixed. We dwell on some of the real positive things the guys did and now we have to get the things that were negative out of what we’re doing. Coach Joe Robinson felt that our special teams played the most physical level that we’ve played since we have been here. We were knocking them around with what we were doing with our special teams. We were really, really physical in our play on offense at times. We were very physical, but we just didn’t throw the ball very well. That was the issue. There was a lot of physicality to our play with what we did in all three segments. We had great effort from a lot of guys in what we saw in what they displayed in the game. The turnovers, like I said, we have to get that stuff fixed and the penalties.”

On opening C-USA play at Southern Miss:

“Southern Miss is a really big challenge for us. I think they are a really, really good football team in our conference. We know the kind of athletes and talent that they get. They are very diverse in their offense. It is as diverse of an offense that you are going to see anywhere in the country. They have multiple formations, shifts, different types of plays, schemes – just as much as you are ever going to see as a football coach. That will be tough preparation for us defensively. That preparation will be very, very difficult. With their defense, they base out of the odd front. They have talent across the board with what they are doing defensively and create some challenges. They do line up schematically very similar in their base looks to what we played last week against Nevada. They base out of a very similar package to what Nevada runs, so that is a positive for us because it is a lot of carry-over to things we had worked on for Nevada that we can carry on to this game. Obviously, with the way the game went for us, we controlled the clock a lot in the ball game. There is a lot of carry-over, which is really good for us as we look at Southern Miss.”

“The first conference game of the season is a really exciting thing to look forward to. I said last week going into the Nevada game that I thought it was going to be a measuring stick for our football team. From the measuring stick that I saw, we have made some tremendous strides, but we just have to eliminate the mistakes and we win a football game against a really good football team.”

On the status of QB Brandon Jones:

“Brandon is doing fine. He actually took reps today in our Monday practice, which is really more of a walk-through practice as we know. It is not any contact on Mondays, but he took reps and we expect him to be ready to go.”

“After I got to evaluate it and think about it more, he was in on a good bit of those drives, and his overall performance was what he needs to do to help us win football games. That is what we talked about before is just execute our offense. I felt like he did a good job and made some really good throws on some vertical schemes on the one that got called back for the penalty on the third-and-five conversion on the first drive. Overall, I thought Brandon played a good game. I thought Kai (Locksley) made mistakes, but Kai also was electric in running the football, so we have to get Kai to eliminate the mistakes because his athleticism shows up in games as well.”

On gaining confidence as a team:

“I think our team really gained a lot of confidence. They saw where we were in comparison to where we were a year ago at this time. We are at a point now where some of those games last year we were very competitive in the middle part of our season, but they weren’t games where you said we could have blown this team out. That game Saturday really showed them the capabilities that if one or two things happen differently and it is a big victory for us. I was really pleased with our performance overall, just not the outcome.”

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