EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – If UTEP could put on the offensive show that it does in the second quarter for an entire game, they wouldn’t be staring at a 1-2 record three games into the 2022 season.
The Miners have lit up opponents in the second quarter of all three games this season, scoring 37 points in that quarter of play. It’s been in the other three quarters where UTEP has struggled mightily.
UTEP has just nine total points in all other quarters other than the second stanza this season; Moreover, they’re being outscored 47-6 in the second half of ballgames through the first three contests.
Head coach Dana Dimel said at his weekly press conference on Monday that the Miners are searching for more consistency within their offense heading into a pivotal road game against New Mexico.
“Execution and being precise in what we’re doing and if we can do well in the third quarter, that will help us have some good second half momentum,” Dimel said. “It’s important to do that and it’s important that we do better in the first quarter too. We have to start faster.”
UTEP ate up over eight minutes of game clock on its first drive of the game last Saturday vs. New Mexico State, but only managed a field goal. For the game, the Aggies out-gained the Miners 298-261, much of that coming after halftime.
Running back Ronald Awatt carried 22 times for 115 yards and a touchdown, which was a bright spot for UTEP after they’d struggled to run the ball in the first two games of the season. That could be a way for the Miners to get going offensively in portions of the game other than the second quarter.
“If we just kept doing what we were doing in the first half and sticking to the run, I feel like that would open up the passing game and vice-versa,” said Awatt.
Dimel didn’t mince words with regards to quarterback Gavin Hardison, who was just 12-27 for 153 yards and a touchdown in the Battle of I-10. After he had one of the best games of his career vs. Oklahoma on Sept. 3, Dimel said it wasn’t what the Miners needed from him, though it did result in a UTEP win.
“The execution in Oklahoma, he was flawless. I mean, completely flawless and precise. He never put a ball in a bad spot. He put it on the money, in the right spot. Last weekend in the second half, he just didn’t do the things he’d been doing in the previous five, six quarters of play leading up to that second half,” Dimel said. “So, I just think he was a little bit off in the second half and he’s just too good of a player to be off. He’s too far along now to do that. We need him to dominate and be precise and we need that because that’s how confident we are in his abilities.”
UTEP opened as a 4.5-point favorite vs. New Mexico on the road this week. The Miners will need the offense to play better in order to have a chance at a win against Danny Gonzales’ and Rocky Long’s defense.
Elsewhere for UTEP, Dimel announced that free safety Justin Prince is suspended from all team activities, but did not elaborate on the circumstances. Prince did not play vs. NMSU and was not at practice on Monday. Dimel did not give a timeline for a potential return, but confirmed that Prince wouldn’t play vs. New Mexico at 6 p.m. on Saturday.