The UTEP football team hit the East side of El Paso on Friday night for a practice, scrimmage and autograph session at the SISD Student Activities Center.
“This is a great night where we’ve got beautiful weather and we got a super, super turnout really,” first-year UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “This is fantastic. The fans stayed all the way through and we had a good, long workout. This is just something that was really neat, a great idea and very much a positive moving forward.”
The Miners worked out for about an hour and 45 minutes and scrimmaged for roughly 30 plays before approximately 500 enthusiastic supporters.
UTEP picked up a couple of touchdowns in the scrimmage and, fittingly, both were scored by Eastsiders. First, Montwood High School’s Warren Redix reeled in a 20-yard toss from quarterback Ryan Metz, then Ysleta High School product Reynaldo Flores punched it into the end zone on a rush from five yards out.
“What I liked the most, we wanted to have a great workout,” Dimel said. “That’s where we are right now. [It’s] practice number six, workout number six. We wanted to get improvement in areas. I loved the effort. We rode over on the bus and there wasn’t a peep. The guys were just so focused and so excited about being here. They treated this like a game. And so I love the attitude of our football team.”
Quarterbacks Metz, Kai Locksley and Mark Torrez combined to throw for 70 yards. Metz finished 2-of-5 for 28 yards, Locksley 4-of-7 for 26 yards and Torrez 1-of-2 for 16 yards.
Kavika Johnson had the long rush of the day (26 yards) as six backs received touches. Returning from an injury-mired season, last year’s standout Quardraiz Wadley looked 100 percent and gained 14 yards on three attempts.
The passing attack was balanced as well, as the quarterbacks hooked up with five different targets and Redix led the way with three catches for 37 yards.
“What I saw from the scrimmage is some big plays,” Dimel said. “We talked on Wednesday about our defense making some improvement. And then today, I saw the offense rebound and do some really good things. I’m talking about the big plays over the top in the passing game and some big plays with our run game. But I also saw our defense working on our tackling, and I thought we tackled well. The defense was put in a little bit of a hindrance because I’m not going to let them tackle below the waist and when you’re trying to tackle big, hard and physical running backs and you’ve got to stay up, that’s not an easy situation.”
As for the quarterbacks, Dimel said “There’s a battle going on. I thought Ryan did some good things. I thought Kai did some really good things. Kai had a good scrimmage, he led the team down for a touchdown. He had some good passes throughout the individual work and segmental work that we were doing. And Mark Torrez did some good things as well.”
Standouts on defense included Justin Prince, who registered a sack and pass break-up, and Kalon Beverly who also recorded a pass break-up.
In the end, it was the first of many scrimmages that the Miners will see between now and September, but an important first step towards the 2018 season.
“I like the depth of our defensive line,” Dimel said. “I like the way our secondary is playing. Offensively, I’m really pleased with what the guys up front are doing in the offensive line. I like our depth. We got to see some of our different running backs do some things in the scrimmage. And again, I like the play of some of our wide receivers as well, catching the football.”
UTEP football season tickets are available now by calling (915) 747-6150.