UTEP football hosts successful town hall and scrimmage at SAC
In front of a lively crowd on Friday evening, the UTEP football team packed their bags and traveled out to the east side to scrimmage for the first time this spring at the Socorro Student Activities Center.
But before the team practiced for the first time with pads, athletic director Jim Senter hosted a town hall for the east side Miner fans.
New UTEP men’s basketball head coach Rodney Terry was in attendance as well and took questions from fans. He had mentioned he met with the current team earlier and touched on recruiting locally, playing power-five schools and maintaining a positive tradition.
The practice started with basic warm up drills by position, which was fairly normal. In the quarterbacks group, Ryan Metz took the reigns with the first team, followed by Kai Locksley and Mark Torrez.
“It’s always a good feeling to be back in pads,” said Metz. “It’s always nice to come back stronger. That’s the beauty of the game. It makes us better. We tell the defense to bring that intensity every day and it makes us better.”
As the practice was moving along, head coach Dana Dimel joined UTEP director of sports broadcasting Jon Teicher to conduct a unique on-field commentary of the practice.
Also joining the practice was former UTEP standout and current Packers running back Aaron Jones and future NFL draft pick Will Hernandez, who were meeting with fans and signing autographs.
As UTEP started to scrimmage, they split up into the first, second and third packages, where glimpses of new offensive and defensive schemes were shown.
Defensively, the Miners were getting used to adjusting from a 3-4 scheme to a new 4-2-5 setup. Through the scrimmage, the defense came up with a bunch of deflected passes and quarterback hurries.
Offensively, Metz started with the first groups, utilizing running back Quadraiz Wadley on the ground, and throwing to targets like Warren Redix and Justin Garrett.
Locksley followed Metz, finding Redix for the first touchdown in the practice on a deep bomb. He continued his offensive stride by spreading the field, scrambling on broken plays and scoring on three separate occasions.
Quarterbacks Metz, Locksley and Torrez combined for 70 yards through the air. Metz finished 2-of-5 for 28 yards, Locksley 4-of-7 for 26 yards and Torrez 1-of-2 for 16 yards.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” Locksley said. “Had a bad day of practice on Wednesday, so we wanted to get the defense back today. They were roughing us up, so we wanted to get them back.”
In total, Redix had two receiving touchdowns and easily over six catches in the scrimmage. In fact, he returned to the SAC where he used to play high school football for Montwood.
“Pretty special night. It felt good to be back,” Redix said. “I think the quarterbacks did a great job. Threw the deep ball exceptionally well.”
Even though Torrez also had a good scrimmage, it seems to be a battle between Locksley and Metz, which Dimel enjoyed watching.
“There’s a battle going on. I thought Ryan did some good things. I thought Kai did some really good things," he said. "Kai had a good scrimmage, he led the team down for a touchdown. He had some good passes throughout the individual work and segmental work that we were doing. And Mark Torrez did some good things as well.”
Dimel appreciated the large fan turnout, which resembled that of an annual UTEP Orange-White spring game—not that of a normal scrimmage.
“This is a great night where we’ve got beautiful weather and we got a super, super turnout really,” Dimel said. “This is fantastic. The fans stayed all the way through and we had a good, long workout. This is just something that was really neat, a great idea and very much a positive moving forward.”
But it will be back to the drawing board for the Miners, who have two weeks left in their spring ball schedule. They will host their annual spring ball game on April 13.
“After today we’re about 75 percent deep in our playbook, and that’s just schemes and formations,” he said.