The UTEP football Aug. 31 season opener against Houston Baptist is right around the corner – and the Miners desperately need to start the 2019 campaign on the right foot.
The Miners have won just one game over the last two seasons.
Those who follow the league closely don’t believe the trend will end anytime soon: The Conference USA media members picked UTEP to finish last in the league’s seven-team west division.
El Paso Inc. talked to UTEP head coach Dana Dimel at the Conference USA kick-off in Frisco, Texas, in July. Here’s what he had to say about the upcoming season:
Q. Your team dealt with a rash of injuries last season. How will you reduce the number of injuries this year?
We’re going to take an even different approach this year.
We touched base with the Dallas Cowboys and they did some really in-depth studies about how injuries occur really early in the camp because guys aren’t used to working their football muscles.
Q. You’ve been through rebuilding jobs before. How do you approach year two?
It’s always a very tricky year.
From year one to year two, the biggest thing you’ve got to be careful of is feeling like you’re going to be better just because you’re in year two. And I’ll keep hitting on that throughout camp with our guys.
You can’t just assume that you’re going to be better.
We’ve got to make sure that we take all the little things that we’ve been working on that are important for us to have a good unit, and put all those into play and don’t take them for granted.
Q. What are this team’s strengths this year?
I like our team speed on defense. I think our front three with Chris Richardson, Dedrick Simpson and Denzel Chukwukelu are going to be very good players.
And if our offensive line stays healthy, we have a lot of guys coming back who were hurt last year that are very good players.
Some of our young freshmen got to play last year and really developed. We feel like we can be a very physical team up front.
Q. How important to the rebuilding process is re-establishing a home field advantage in the Sun Bowl?
We need to be a good home football team this year. We have to start establishing an ability to protect our own turf.
It’s going to be important for us to play well early and play with pride in the great Sun Bowl.