UTEP vs. Northern Arizona fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 7:30 pm ET
Venue: Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
Northern Arizona (0-0) vs. UTEP (0-0) Game Preview
Coming off a winless season – there weren’t any games against FCS teams – UTEP needs to start out the Dana Dimel era with something positive. This should be a better Miner team with a new direction, but Northern Arizona won’t be a pushover.
The Lumberjacks lost to Arizona to start last year, but they finished with a winning campaign thanks to a high-octane passing attack.
This might not be easy for the Miners, but it had better be with three of the next four games on the road.
One Reason Why Northern Arizona Will Win
Can UTEP keep up any sort of a pace?
Dimel and his new coaching staff should make the program far better in a big hurry, but the offense that failed to score more than 21 points all season long and only scored more than 14 twice still has a long way to go to be decent.
Meanwhile, the Lumberjacks are coming off a fantastic year through the air, with Case Cookus throwing for 3,413 yards and 22 touchdowns with just six picks.
The UTEP secondary should be the strongest part of the defense early on, but it’s coming off a miserable year. All four starters are back, but it’s still going to get hit for a big day if there isn’ much of a pass rush.
One Reason Why UTEP Will Win
Can the Miners do anything to get the running game going?
For all of the good things the Lumberjacks did last season, stopping the run wasn’t among them, giving up 208 yards per game.
UTEP’s big offensive improvement under offensive coordinator Mike Canales should be with the passing game – helped by a veteran receiving corps – but the running attack gets just about everyone back, too.
The Miners averaged just 96 yards per game on the ground, but Kansas State FB Winston Dimel is coming in to help pave the way for the experienced backs. There’s going to be power, but the line has to come together fast despite the loss of star guard Will Hernandez.
What’s Going To Happen
UTEP has so many things it has to do to merely be decent, but the returning experience on both sides of the ball will make all of the difference under the new coaching staff.
The line has to keep the Lumberjacks from getting behind the line, and the secondary will need to hold up, but get ready for more from the ground game under Dimel, and more control over the clock.
UTEP won’t be pretty, but it’ll grind out a win. For now, the program will take that no matter what.