The 2018 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the UTEP Miners.
No. 129: UTEP Miners
Spring Practice Starts: COMING
Spring Game: COMING
UTEP Miners Prespring Status
New head coach Dana Dimel is looking to steady the ship.
The 2017 Miner season never got going. It was bad early, lost head coach Sean Kugler midway through the season, and despite his great career and resume, Mike Price wasn’t able to to make anything any better in a winless season.
Dimel’s first job if to figure out how to get the offense moving. The Miners were dead last in the nation in scoring, and weren’t even competitive in most games – there has to be some sort of pop. However, there’s plenty of turnover, a few key personnel losses – if that’s possible on a winless team – and a true rebuild has to be done.
UTEP Miners Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Quarterback. Step One: find a quarterback to grow into the offense. Zack Greenlee is done after a tough season, Hoping for Ryan Metz was banged up, and Mark Torrez only connected on 14-of-48 passes with two picks when he got his shot.
And now all eyes will be on JUCO transfer QB Kai Locksley, who started out his career at Texas before making his way to El Paso. With his dual-threat skills and upside, the hope and prayer is that he’ll take a job from Day One.
UTEP Miners Biggest Issue
The offensive line has to come together. The Miners were okay in pass protection, but they couldn’t do anything on the ground – running or just over 1,100 yards and nine scores – and couldn’t control games. And now they have to go on without future NFL starter Will Hernandez at one guard spot. Two other starters are done, too, putting the pressure on the JUCO transfers to make their mark right away in the rotation.
UTEP Miners Biggest Positive
Dimel. A long-time Kansas State assistant, he also has the head coaching experience to know how to make this work. He was terrific at Wyoming in the late 1990s, helped build up Houston before losing the gig after three losing seasons – but went 5-7 in his final year – and then was the offensive coordinator under Bill Snyder over the last decade.
He was able to make the Wildcats roll without the same talent as the rest of the Big 12. Very, very fired up for this gig, he’s doing all the little things right early on.
Really, Why Are The UTEP Miners Ranked Here?
There’s SO much work to do.
The Miners need a quarterback, they need new offensive linemen, they need difference-makers at the skill spots, they need pass rushers, and they need to replace their top four tacklers and almost all of their top players in the linebacking corps. And they lose their punter, too.
Again, though, from a winless team, and with a good coach in Dimel who’s more than ready to handle a head coaching gig, it’s not like the team will be any worse.