UTEP Football to Feature Run Oriented Offense in 2021
Yesterday evening, UTEP hosted a virtual football event for fans. The UTEP football Kickoff Show was streamed live on the athletic department's YouTube channel, and it featured longtime radio voice Jon Teicher with guests including Jim Senter, Dana Dimel, Justin Garrett, and Praise Amaewhule. The Miners new coordinators, Dave Warner and Bradley Dale Peveto also joined the show to speak publicly for the first time.
My biggest takeaway from the interview with Warner is that the new offensive coordinator wants to be a physical, run-heavy offense in 2021. When Teicher asked him about what are his priorities when the Miners take the field for the first time next week for Spring practices, Warner emphasized his offensive line.
"First and foremost we want to show that we will be a physical offense, and that starts with running the football. We've got a great stable of running backs that we can hand the ball off to, we have an experienced offensive line that has shown that they can move some people upfront, so I am excited about getting that physical element running the football. When you can do that, your play action pass and all the other facets of your offense become that much more easy."
Is it the Sean Kugler era all over again? Probably not. When you look at the UTEP running backs on paper, they are as deep as they have ever been. Leading the way will be redshirt sophomore Deion Hankins and redshirt senior Ronald Awatt. However, senior Quardraiz Wadley is coming back and it will be interesting to see if he is fully recovered from the foot injury that caused him to miss the majority of the 2020 season. Add in redshirt freshman Willie Eldridge and redshirt senior Rey Flores and you have five backs all capable of making big plays on the ground.
As good as the ground game is, redshirt junior quarterback Gavin Hardison has shown the ability to throw the ball all over the field. Although his completion percentage is not where it needs to be yet, the Miners excelled at times last season throwing the football in normal running situations. His two favorite targets, junior Jacob Cowing and redshirt senior Justin Garrett will both be back as well.
"I see Gavin as a guy who has tremendous talent and he has a cannon for an arm," Warner said last night. "I have not seen him throw yet, but you can see on film that he has a live arm and can make all the throws you need. In sitting in some meetings with him, you can see that he has a good grasp of he offense and as Coach D alluded to, we want to take that to the next level."
The Miners offense could be more exciting than ever in 2021, but you have to wonder if their play calling will be predictable, especially if everyone in the stadium knows they want to run the football. Coach Dimel will continue to call the plays next season, but Warner will be asked to help him out, especially in third down situations. UTEP's offense was not as predictable as usual in 2020, and if everyone stays healthy, they should have every opportunity to score more points come September. Will it resemble the days of Mike Price? Most likely not, especially since he loved a pass-first offense. Still, there are plenty of reasons to think that the Miners offense will take that next step.