Three Major Things the Miners Will Do During the Bye Week
Week seven is here for college football, but the bye week couldn't have came any sooner for the Miners (0-6), who will use this week to regroup and get ready for their road trip against LA Tech on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Upon the Miners' 27-24 loss to North Texas on Saturday, head coach Dana Dimel is looking forward to this week for his team.
Here's what he said during his postgame press conference:
"It'll be interesting to see if we could get a couple guys back during the bye week. The bye week will be focused on getting healthy, doing some preparation for the next opponent and go off and do some recruiting."
So it's broken down to three things: get healthy, get better as a team and get players.
Getting healthy is a top priority
Dimel said that UTEP played without 17 of their opening game starters on Saturday against North Texas. This team needs to get healthy on all sides of the ball during this week off.
Junior quarterback Kai Locksley nursed an ankle injury Saturday and was not active. This will be his week to get his ankle healthy and be ready for a full week of practice next week. He's at the forefront of the Miners' injury issues.
Next comes fullback Winston Dimel. His shoulder was popped out of place during Saturday's game, so it is unclear when he is set to return.
Other players, as Dimel indicated, have been either playing through injuries or on day-by-day protocol. Senior receiver Warren Redix played against North Texas, despite suffering an apparent injury against UTSA last weekend. So even the most minuscule injuries will be allowed to rest this week for different players on the team.
Getting a head start for LA Tech
UTEP will put their 18-game losing streak on the line next week as they travel to take on LA Tech (3-2), who is coming off a huge 28-7 loss to UAB this past week.
This week, Dimel and offensive coordinator Mike Canales will at least talk about the possibility of Ryan Metz playing more of a role in the offense when Locksely is healthy again. Metz put up 313 yards through the air and had three total touchdowns for the Miners against UNT.
Maybe this week Dimel revisits the idea of using two quarterbacks in their offensive scheme, possibly switching them in and out periodically.
For team improvements, the Miners again must work to eliminate turnovers. Metz threw two interceptions on Saturday, making UTEP's total turnover margin at -8 for the season, which is the seventh-worst in FBS.
They also need to figure out how to score. The Miners are averaging 16.5 points per game, which is tied for an FBS worst.
Recruiting a new class of prospects
The bye week for coaches means hands on recruiting efforts, especially for Dimel, Canales and defensive coordinator Mike Cox.
Here's who the Miners have as verbal commits so far:
- Ajani Carter (WR) - 3 star - 6'2 - North Shore (Houston, TX)
- Deion Hankins (RB) - 3 star - 6'0 - Parkland (El Paso, TX)
- TJ Goodwin (QB) - 3 star - 6'5 - Cypress Falls (Houston, TX)
- Juice Tupua (DT) - 2 star - 6'1 - Narbonne (Harbor City, CA)
- Quintavius Workman (WR) - 2 star - 6'5 - Chapin (El Paso, TX)
Here's a full list of prospects they are targeting.
There's some obvious areas where the Miners need immediate improvement and it starts on the offensive and defensive line. For those spots, they might need to head to the JUCO ranks.
Beyond that, the Miners need to search hard for receivers. They need speedy targets, strong ones that can be their No.1 targets in the future and strong route runners. They could use a kicker to replace Jason Filley. More linebackers, pass rushers, tight ends (or inside receivers, as UTEP calls it) and secondary members would be good to get in the mix.
It will be interesting to see what type of player Dimel and staff recruit as well. They have been known to offer big-name recruits, hoping they could land one of them down the line. But it's also going to be good for a head coach like Dimel to go out on different locations in Texas and try to recruit some important pieces.
Something to also keep in mind, UTEP will also be offering players from the class of 2020 and class of 2021. They want to recruit deep in Texas and want kids to commit as early as possible, if they see some good stuff from them.