EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Sitting with a 1-2 overall record, UTEP looks to continue to improve in all aspects of the game as it approaches a big game against Pac-12 member Arizona in Tuscon on Saturday.
One big area of focus UTEP has right now is turnovers on both sides of the ball.
“For us, we’re down 6-1 in turnovers, and that’s unforced errors. So, when you’re down 6-1 turnovers in three games, you’re not going to have as much success as you would like to have.” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said.
UTEP has totaled up six turnovers – five interceptions and one fumble – just three games into the season. UTEP’s six total turnovers are tied for the third most at the NCAA Division I FBS level. UTEP is also tied with Troy, South Alabama, North Texas, New Mexico State, Army West Point, and Akron with six turnovers.
UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison has thrown four interceptions so far this season, two each in UTEP’s games against Jax State and Northwestern. Despite that, Hardison is aiming to learn from those mistakes and better his game.
“You have to learn from (the turnovers), but you also have to have a short-term memory, so you can keep attacking the defense and not let it affect you,” said UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison.
Dimel did take blame entirely for UTEP’s slow offensive start, saying that five early season turnovers by redshirt senior quarterback Gavin Hardison were mainly on him as a play caller.
In 2022, UTEP had a total of 21 turnovers on the season (12 interceptions, 9 fumbles lost).
On defense, UTEP has also struggled in the turnover department of the game. In three games this season, the Miners have only forced one turnover. That lone turnover was an interception by Trez Moore during UTEP’s win against Incarnate Word at the Sun Bowl on Sept. 2.
In its games against Jacksonville State and Northwestern, UTEP was not able to gain a turnover.
Creating turnovers on defense and eliminating turnovers on offense are two big objectives UTEP want to accomplish in order to turn the season around.
“For us to have the success that we’re going to have this season, we just need to eliminate the unforced errors. That’s a big focus for our football team right now as we move forward, play our brand of football, finish drives better, create more turnovers on defense and eliminate them on offense,” Dimel said. “That’s our big thrust. If we do that, we’re going to win a lot of football games. It’s not a real complicated formula right now to get it fixed, but we got to do that. We got to execute it and get it done.”
UTEP’s defense will have a chance to rack up more turnovers on Saturday as Arizona is tied for second most turnovers at the NCAA Division I level with seven total turnovers just two games into the season.