UTEP practices at nearly full strength, but Saturday’s game at UTSA still up in the air


EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – In a rare break from the norm, UTEP took the day off from practice on Tuesday.

The Miners haven’t played a game since Oct. 24 due to back-to-back cancellations and postponements by other schools due to COVID-19. Dana Dimel said he wanted to mix up the monotony of the last few weeks, as the miners get prepared to hopefully play UTSA in the Alamo City on Saturday.

The Miners mixed things up even more on Wednesday night, holding a rare evening practice under the Sun Bowl Stadium lights. The majority of the roster was in attendance; of Miners that regular see playing time, only defensive back Dennis Barnes appeared to be missing, a very good sign three days before kickoff.

However, the status of Saturday’s game is still up in the air. UTSA canceled last week’s game with Rice due to COVID-19 cases and contact tracing, and both schools are awaiting Roadrunner test results to see if Saturday’s game gets played.

UTSA had two positive tests last week along its offensive line; with contact tracing, coupled with injuries in that position group, the Roadrunners didn’t have the necessary depth to play.

“It affected us at a position that due to injuries, positive tests and contact tracing, we wouldn’t have been able to play,” UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor said earlier this week. “Contact tracing is still being done and who knows how that will change things.”

Traylor added that he was hopeful the game would be played. The Roadrunners tested on Wednesday and will receive results Thursday, at which time both schools will likely have a better idea of whether or not the game will be played, Dimel said.

“I hope they don’t let us get wheels up and cancel after that. No one would do that on purpose, but I hope it doesn’t get to that point cause that gets expensive,” Dimel said. “That’s why everyone is testing. We should know more by tomorrow or Friday, I would think. We’re all ready to play here, so we’re waiting to hear news from their side.”

As it stands, the game will kickoff at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Alamodome. UTEP (3-3, 0-2 C-USA) has played just two games since the end of September and hasn’t played a home game since Sept. 19. The Miners announced on Tuesday that the Nov. 20 game against UAB would be played in Midland, TX, at Grande Communications Stadium.

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