Dana Dimel Stays True to His 5-Year Plan for UTEP Football
Trust the process. Three words that sports fans dread. It usually means that things are down but soon headed in the right direction as long as you are patient. The problem is it is hard to be patient when you have witnessed so many losing seasons over the last 53 years. Rodney Terry has used those three words this season when describing his basketball team. That phrase also accurately depicts the current state of the UTEP football program.
In the two years that Dana Dimel has coached the Miners, he has won a total of two games. One of those was a nail-biter against FCS Houston Baptist. The lack of victories has not deterred Coach Dimel from continuing to build his program from the ground up. Yesterday, UTEP announced their 2020 Signing Class, filled mostly with high school prospects. They went Juco heavy for their early signing class last December and many of those players have impressed the coaching staff and will compete for playing time this upcoming season.
If you talk to Coach Dimel about the Miners, he will tell you that the only way he would have left Kansas State to take the head coaching job in El Paso would be if he was given five years to build the program. That is exactly what Director of Athletics Jim Senter gave him. The Dimel Era is nearing the midway point of his initial contract and the majority of the players on the Miners roster are his. The rest of them bought into his system and stayed true to the program. If Coach Dimel is going to get a second contract, his UTEP football team needs to start winning games and return to the postseason. He believes that scenario is only one year away. Trust the process.
Beginning in 2020, the Miners will look different on defense. They are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme and want to develop a much better pass rush than they had in previous seasons. If the new look defense can keep them in more games (like the 2018 season), UTEP's offense will need to help them get some wins. The Miners have plenty of playmakers at running back and wide receiver. Although the offensive line was suspect last season, the coaching staff believes that unit will be strong for 2020. That leaves just one position as the big question mark on offense.
Coach Dimel did not recruit a single high school or Juco quarterback this year. Instead, he wants Gavin Hardison and TJ Goodwin to develop as his program's future signal callers. Hardison, a redshirt sophomore, saw limited action at the end of the 2019 season while Goodwin, a redshirt freshman, never cracked the lineup. Both quarterbacks offer completely different skill sets. Hardison has a cannon for an arm, but lacks the mobility that many more polished dual threat quarterbacks have. Coach Dimel believes that the former Hobbs High School star can develop into a more mobile player, and he will be given every chance to win the starting job in spring and fall practice. Goodwin was a Texas Top 300 player in high school, and he possesses a true dual threat skill set that fits the UTEP offensive scheme. Physically, Goodwin was not ready to handle the position in game situations as a true freshman. The Miners redshirted him, and they hope that a year in their strength and conditioning program will pay off for the former Cypress Falls high school star over the next four seasons.
As for the rest of the team's depth chart at quarterback, senior Mark Torrez is moving to receiver full-time. Redshirt junior Isaiah Bravo and redshirt sophomore Calvin Brownholtz round out the spring roster. Coach Dimel did mention during his signing day press conference yesterday that the team is in the mix for a Power 5 graduate transfer quarterback. That would help solidify the position for next season.
UTEP Spring Football practice starts March 11th with the annual Spring Game scheduled for Saturday April 11th at the Sun Bowl. Trust the process.