EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Talk to anyone over at UTEP football about their 2022 roster and it won’t take long before the stacked defensive line comes up.
KTSM’s fourth installment of the Five Burning Questions of UTEP Fall Camp is less an examination of the line’s faults, and more an investigation of just how strong it can be.
It’s an old cliche: a football team is only as good as its quarterback and its defensive line. Fortunately for UTEP, they might have the best D-Line in Conference USA this fall.
“We’re all coming back so we all have experience playing in real games, so we’re just working on our chemistry when it comes to pass rushing,” said defensive tackle Keenan Stewart.
All four starters return for the Miners along the defensive front – Praise Amaewhule, Stewart, Kelton Moss and Jadrian Taylor – but it goes beyond the first line of defense.
“We’re stacked pretty good on the front, we’re two-three deep,” said defensive coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto. “We have a lot of guys we can roll. Our guys play their tails off, they play hard, they play physical.”
They also have star power. Amaewhule might have a true NFL future at the defensive end position. He not only gets to the quarterback, last year he was second on the team in pass breakups. Amaewhule teams with Taylor to form Shake and Bake, the Miners standout defensive end duo with a catchy nickname to boot.
“I’m shake, he’s bake, because I’m more of a drop defensive end, linebacker type,” said Taylor. “I just feel like we have so much chemistry and can play off each other so easily.”
“It makes it hard for offenses, because do they slide his way or my way?” added Amaewhule. “It makes it hard, because you really can’t block any of us. It’s definitely good to have that guy who plays with the same passion as you do.”
On the inside, defensive tackles Keenan Stewart and Kelton Moss eat up double teams, which makes the entire unit’s job easier.
“Nonstop physicality; if me and Moss and all the other D-Tackles are demanding double teams in the middle, then it gives them 1-on-1s with tackles and tight ends, which creates the opportunities for them to win,” said Stewart.
Quite simply, this unit has the ability to dominate in 2022. If they do, it could push the Miners to new heights.
“This game is won up front, and if we’re not where we need to be up front, then you’re average. We’re very explosive and very talented,” said Peveto.
The Miners will find out just how good they can be on Aug. 27 when they open the season vs. North Texas.