EL PASO, Texas – UTEP will open home action against UIW on Saturday night in Sun Bowl Stadium with kickoff set for 7 p.m. The home opener will also mark 60 years in the Sun Bowl.
The Miners (0-1) are coming off a setback on week zero while the Cardinals (0-0) are opening their 2023 season.
The 1988 UTEP Miners will be inducted into the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 1, along with ’88 head coach Bob Stull, volleyball’s Christine Brandl, soccer’s Holly Cohen, men’s hoop’s Fred Reynolds and track & field’s Anthony Rotich.
The Miners and Cardinals will air on 95.5 KLAQ with “The Voice of the UTEP Miners Jon Teicher”, and former UTEP WR Cole Freytag with the call, and Mando Medina roaming the sidelines.
UTEP and UIW are meeting for only the second time ever and first since 2015 when the Miners clipped the Cardinals 27-17 in the Sun Bowl. Current UIW head coach Cliff Killough played in that contest, hauling in a pair of receptions for 36 yards.
The Miners are coming off a narrow 17-14 loss at new Conference USA opponent Jax State on Aug. 26. Torrance Burgess Jr. led the Miners with 58 yards on the ground, while Deion Hankins scored his 19th career touchdown. Gavin Hardison threw for 208 yards and a touchdown, his 36th career TD toss.
The Cardinals are coming off a historic season in which they finished 12-2 overall, advancing to the FCS semis with an offense that averaged over 50 points per contest.
“Incarnate Word is an interesting study for us. They pretty much don’t have very many guys back from last year’s team. It’s pretty much a new coaching staff and a whole new team. It’s a very transfer-oriented team, whether it be junior college, but mostly four-year transfer players on their team,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “Last year, they had a tremendous, tremendous football team. I mean, a team that would have finished in the upper level of Conference USA, a team that went deep, deep into the playoffs and was a really, really good football team. This year they got a lot of really talented players on their team. They’ve got a quarterback that’s a Texas A&M transfer who had success at Texas A&M.”
UIW’s starting QB is Zach Calzada who threw for over 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns at Texas A&M last season.
The Miners won the only meeting against UIW 27-17 on Sept. 26, 2015 in the Sun Bowl.
The Cardinals are opening the 2023 campaign with new head coach Clint Killough on Saturday night against the Miners. UIW is coming off a 12-2 overall record in 2022 behind a high-octane offense that rewrote the record books. Lindsey Scott Jr. threw 60 TDs and 4,686 yards on over 70 percent passing.
UIW averaged over 51 points per game, while racking up over 580 yards per game of total offense. Killough served as associate head coach and wide receivers coach last season before being named head coach in the midst of the best season in program history, heading to the FCS Semifinals for the deepest playoff run in the UIW football era.
With Killough mentoring the WRs, a pair went for over 1,000 yards in 2022. Darion Chafin tallied 1,244 yards on 70 catches with 18 TDs, while Taylor Grimes recorded a team-high 83 receptions for 1,221 yards and 15 scores. With Killough at the helm, the UIW will see a new squad for ’23. Namely, 6-4, 217-pound QB Zach Calzada transferred to UIW after playing at a pair of Power Five programs with Texas A&M and Auburn. At A&M last season, he played in 12 games with 10 starts, and threw for over 2,000 yards and 17 TDs.
The Cardinals are picked to finish second in the Southland Conference Preseason Poll. Seven UIW players were selected to the Southland 2023 Preseason All-Conference Team. Junior DL Steven Parker (48 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 7.0 sacks, 5 QB hurries) led the way for the Cardinals making the first team, and is joined by his teammates WR Brandon Porter (37 rec., 601, 6 TD), DB Brandon Richard (79 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 5 PUB, 4 QB hurries) and OL Stanley Mark on first team. Second team members include WR CJ Hardy (40 rec., 547 yards, 6 TD), DE Marcus Brown (All-MEAC First Team, 36 tackles in 10 games at Howard in 2022) and WR Dekalon Taylor (193 ret. Yards on 10 attempts, 19 rush yards).