Balanced New Mexico Offense Will Be a Great Test For UTEP
There a lot of similarities with the New Mexico Lobos and UTEP Miners football teams. Both have won two games and lost one. Both were outclassed by better teams: UNM was blanked 34-0 to Texas A&M last week while the Miners lost to Boise State 54-13. Each team also has a win over an FCS opponent, Houston Baptist and Bethune-Cookman, while both UTEP and UNM defeated New Mexico State.
Those trends make Saturday night's game at the Sun Bowl a fascinating matchup. The fact that these two schools were huge in-conference rivals nearly 25 years ago is just the icing on the cake. Unlike the Miners, the Lobos ended their 2020 COVID season on a high note, winning their final two games against Wyoming and Fresno State. Danny Gonzales is an Albuquerque native and he is entering his second season as head coach of the Lobos, the school he played for and later became an assistant.
New Mexico is led by quarterback Terry Wilson, who transferred to Albuquerque from the University of Kentucky. Through three games, he has passed for 592 yards and six touchdowns with just one interception. He has five main targets in receivers Mannie Logan-Greene (9-116-1), Keyonta Lanier (5-87-1), Andrew Erickson (8-80-1), Trace Buckler (6-76-1), and Luke Wysong (11-74).
The Lobos running game is a combination of senior Bobby Cole (38-166-1) and freshman Aaron Dumas (35-164). The game will be a homecoming for Dumas, who graduated early from America High School to join the Lobos and compete for a starting job. Wilson is also a dual threat quarterback who is not afraid to run the football when given an opportunity. He is averaging about eight rushes per game.
For UTEP defensive coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto, UNM will be a good test for his defense. The Miners had a bye week to get healthy and they expect defensive tackle Keenan Stewart and defensive backs Josh Caldwell and Justin Prince to be healthy and ready to go Saturday night. Caldwell and Prince both missed the game against Boise State due to injuries while Stewart was injured late in the game against the Broncos. UTEP will need to generate a pass rush and put pressure on Wilson in order to slow down the Lobos offense. If they can do that and contain Cole and Dumas, the Miners should have an excellent chance to end their non-conference play with a 3-1 record.