UTEP football turns the page after win over NMSU; Miners monitor Hankins injury


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP didn’t spend much time basking in the glow of Saturday’s 30-3 win over rival New Mexico State in the Battle of I-10.

It’s time to turn the page, on what was arguably the biggest win of the Dana Dimel era, as the Miners will play their home opener this Saturday at the Sun Bowl against FCS opponent Bethune Cookman.

The Miners were back out on the practice field getting ready for the Wildcats on Monday morning and it’s a familiar preparation this week, in that UTEP is unfamiliar with Bethune Cookman.

Much like NMSU last week, the Wildcats didn’t play at all in 2020. They also haven’t posted a depth chart, or sent one to UTEP, something Dimel lamented at his Monday press conference. There are some unknowns regarding the Wildcats, but for UTEP they’re going in expecting to win and planning to clean up some of their first week miscues.

“Today, the only message was, ‘congratulations on the win, but lets move on,'” said Dimel. “Nobody played near as well as they can so we have to clean that up, get guys playing at the level they can play at, eliminate mistakes and don’t give up big plays and don’t have all those penalties.”

For their efforts in beating the Aggies, the Miners swept Conference USA’s Player of the Week awards (UTEP was the only C-USA team to play in Week 0). Wide receiver Jacob Cowing was the Offensive Player of the Week; safety Dy’vonne Inyang was the Defensive Player of the Week; and kicker Gavin Baechle was the the Special Teams Player of the Week.

Meanwhile, star running back Deion Hankins left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury in the first half and did not return after rushing for 50 yards and a touchdown before the injury.

The Parkland High School graduate was held out of practice on Monday and it sounds like UTEP is planning on resting him vs. Bethune Cookman. Beyond that, a timeline for Hankins’ return isn’t clear.

“We don’t know that for sure what his time frame is,” said Dimel. “We’ll know more tomorrow what his time frame is, but right now he needs a little bit of rest and I don’t know if it’ll be one week, two weeks, what it’ll be.”

The good news for UTEP is that Ronnie Awatt and Quardraiz Wadley filled in capably against NMSU. Awatt rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown and Wadley showed some of the explosiveness he’s had in years past, going for 51 yards on the ground. Even without Hankins, the Miners are still loaded at running back.

UTEP will host Bethune Cookman at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Sun Bowl, looking for a 2-0 start to the season for the first time since 2005.

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