EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — When UTEP (6-2, 3-1 C-USA) welcomes No. 16 UTSA (8-0, 4-0 C-USA) into Sun Bowl Stadium on Saturday, it’ll be the first time the Miners have hosted a ranked opponent since 2012 when No. 6 Oklahoma came to town. UTEP’s last win at home against a ranked opponent came in 2009 when they beat No. 12 Houston, 58-41.
If the Miners expect to pull off an upset on Saturday against the Roadrunners, their offense is going to have to put up some points. UTSA is averaging nearly 40 points per game and have scored at least 45 points in three straight games. Meanwhile, UTEP hasn’t scored more than 30 points in a game since their first two games of the season.
It’s no secret that the Miners have been able to win with defense this season, and despite their recent struggles offensively, UTEP is beginning to develop a third receiving option for quarterback Gavin Hardison. Jacob Cowing (41 rec, 811 yds, 4 TD) and Justin Garrett (30 rec, 447 yds, 2 TD), who have accounted for 67% of the team’s receiving yards, continues to be Hardison’s favorite targets. However, teams have started to key on the receiving duo, leaving other options open down the field.
Sophomore Tyrin Smith has made the most of his opportunities this season, posting his first 100-yard game as a Miner in last week’s loss at FAU. Smith hauled in four receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s [Tyrin Smith] been able to show some flashes, but his consistency hasn’t been there,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “I think what’s happening is — he’s a very intelligent player — he’s starting to understand the system and now he can use that. He’s quick as quick can be, and he’s fast — he’s quick and fast. That’s a great combination to have.”
Smith has become a student of the game and spends hours watching film every week. In eight games this season, the Cibolo, Texas, native has 15 receptions for 313 yards and two touchdowns. His production continues to increase as he has gotten more and more comfortable in the offense.
“Really, I’m just getting the offense down and getting the communication with Gavin [Hardison] down,” said Smith. “I’m watching a lot of film and that has been key for me, and really just getting everything down.”
Smith will look to help spark the Miners’ offense again on Saturday when UTEP hosts UTSA at the Sun Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. MT, and the game will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN2.