EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A 27-point win over your biggest rival to start the season is exactly what UTEP needed heading into the 2021 season. The Miners dominated New Mexico State in the Battle of I-10 last Saturday, 30-3.
The win, however, has been short-lived for UTEP head coach Dana Dimel and his team. The Miners turning the page to Bethune-Cookman, an FCS program out of the SWAC.
“We have to move forward to Bethune-Cookman, and we’re going to do the same preparation that we did with New Mexico State,” said UTEP sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing. “We’re getting in the film room, learning their defense and from there just play football.”
Much like the Aggies, the Wildcats didn’t play in 2020 and it’s another tough week of preparation for the coaching staff.
“We don’t have a great understanding of what [Bethune-Cookman] will be doing schematically,” said Dimel. “We can go back to its 2019 film. But they had an interesting development, they let their offensive coordinator go, and hired a new one on July 31, I think. Basically, what we’re going to do for this game is go in a play our stuff that we do. We’ll do what we do and react to what we see and play base-sound football on both sides.”
UTEP will we playing their first home game since September of 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic essentially prevented the Miners from playing at Sun Bowl Stadium.
“It has been a long time since we played at home and coming off of a win, it’s nice to get back home,” said Dimel. “I know our guys are excited and hoping to see a really good crowd for their first home game.”
Throughout the summer, the talk surrounding this year’s UTEP team can be summarized by one word: optimism. The Miners returned virtually every starter from last year’s 3-5 team, and the schedule is setup for this team to win three, maybe even four of their first five games. They got the job done against New Mexico State last week, and UTEP must do the same with Bethune-Cookman on Saturday.
“We can’t take these guys lightly,” said UTEP junior offensive lineman Bobby DeHaro. “We have to come out — the same way we did against New Mexico State — play harder and keep working our way to the conference championship.”
UTEP is looking start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005. The Miners started that season 3-0 and finished 8-4 with a trip to the GMAC Bowl. A 2-0 start to this season will go a long ways to getting the program back to a bowl game for the first time since 2014.
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT at Sun Bowl Stadium.