The Miner Losing Blues Explained By UTEPZay
UTEP football just opened up as 1-point road underdogs to winless Sam Houston State for their Wednesday night matchup. The Bearcats are in their first year in their FCS to FBS transition, and despite the 0-6 record, they’ve been in just about every game they’ve played. They were competitive against squads like BYU, Jax. State, and Liberty. They are coming off a heartbreaking 2-OT loss to FIU. Sadly, if we’re talking about a UTEP loss tonight, it would not be a surprise to most Miner fans. That’s how this season has gone. The fanbase is down, the community is down. Everyone has the losing blues.
UTEPZay has the losing blues.
Year six of the Dana Dimel era was filled with high expectations, hope, and hype from both the media and the fan base. A 4th-year starter at the quarterback position, a returning 1000-yard receiver, and a veteran offensive line on the offensive side of the ball gave fans a lot of excitement. Meanwhile, UTEP had stars like Praise Amaewhule and Tyrice Knight returning for a defense that has been the strength of this team for the past 4 years.
But here we are. The Miners are 2-6, and even though UTEP is mathematically still eligible to make a bowl game, most know that’s not going to happen. A bowl game is in the rear-view window, just like any hope of a conference championship. The past 4 games have all felt like must wins for the Miners, and they’ve gone 1-3. The worst of those losses is by far their 28-7 home loss to rival NMSU. A 21-point home loss to a rival will undoubtedly leave a sour taste in every UTEP fan's mouth for a long time, even if the Miners somehow end up turning this season around.
But UTEP was already 2-5 going into that game. Some fans had already checked out on this team a long time ago. An opening week loss to FBS newcomer Jacksonville State was all it took for several fans. For others, it was the 45-28 blowout loss to UNLV in the Sun Bowl. Aside from UTEP’s loss to Arizona in week 3, Miner fans had reason to believe their team could pull out the W. And that’s where all the frustration lies. After so many years of disappointing seasons and heartbreaking losses, this community finally had real hope that the Miners would finally turn the page, and even end the infamous 56-year bowless streak. But it looks like they’ll have to wait even longer. In the off-season, we knew UTEP wasn’t going to be perfect, but this was as good a time as you would get for a successful year from the Miners. The only thing standing in their way was history.
And as we now know, history will always have the upper hand.
I won’t completely ignore the fact that UTEP has been ravaged with injuries all year. QB Gavin Hardison has been out the past 3-weeks with an arm injury, while star receiver Tyrin Smith has been out as well. Throw in 7-8 other significant injuries, it hasn’t been easy for the Miners. They’ve been down to their 4th-string QB the past couple of games and really haven’t been near fully healthy at all this year. But that’s what depth is for. Most of the UTEP roster on built on JUCO transfers, so you’d hope that it wouldn’t be as big of a drop-off in talent when a starter goes down. I’d love to say UTEP is 2-6 because of the number of injuries they’ve unfortunately dealt with, but we’re pass the time for excuses. UTEP has had one winning season the past eight years. As a matter of fact, UTEP has had more seasons with 1-win or less than actual winning seasons since the magical 04’ and 05’ campaigns.
This community deserves a winner. As of the afternoon on October 24th, UTEP still leads CUSA in home attendance, averaging 21,902 fans per contest, with Liberty and Jax. State following closing behind. This city has gotten behind this team in just about every game this season. Like we saw during the Mike Price era, if you win, this city will come out and rally behind this team. Even on a Wednesday, the Sun Bowl had almost 20,000 fans in it.
I’ll be the first to admit. My evaluation on this team was wrong. I saw experience, and I automatically figured that equaled talent. I thought this would finally be the year that Gavin Hardison would break out into become the QB we thought he could be. I thought the defense would improve dramatically. I thought this was the year for UTEP football.
And I was wrong.
UTEP Basketball Practices Ahead of McMurry Home Opener on Nov. 6
Gallery Credit: Zay Galindo