UTEP Miners Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

UTEP Miners Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the UTEP season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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UTEP Miners Preview
Head Coach: Dana Dimel, 5th year at UTEP, 12-33
11th year overall, 42-72: 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 7-6, Conference: 4-4
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UTEP Top 10 Players | UTEP Schedule

UTEP Miners Preview 2022

It was one of the best stories of 2021.

UTEP, the program that hadn’t had a lick of luck for so many years and only went 5-27 in three seasons under head coach Dana Dimel was … good?

The seven-wins and bowl appearance was the best season since 2014, and the team won two more games in one year than it did over the previous four combined.

It hasn’t been easy to come up with any sort of success at UTEP, much less a sustained level of high play, but this year’s team is loaded with all-stars from 2021, it has depth, and now it knows what it’s like to win.

Unlike others in the conference who are off to the American Athletic Conference next year, UTEP is expected to stick around after this season, and it’s got a chance to establish itself as the star of the league going forward.

For now, just coming up with another winning season would be good enough.

UTEP Miners Preview 2022: Offense

The offense couldn’t move the chains, it couldn’t complete passes, and it turned the ball over WAY too much. However, for a program that struggled for a long, long time to get things going, averaging 392 yards and 25 points per game was great.

No, the passing accuracy wasn’t there, but the deep ball opened everything up and the running game wasn’t all that bad over the first half of the season. Seven starters are expected back, but …

Leading receiver Jacob Cowing is off to Arizona. He was a special target who averaged close to 20 yards per catch, and No. 2 receiver Justin Garrett is gone.

However, Tyrin Smith averaged over 17 yards per catch on his 33 grabs with four scores, TE Trent Thompson scored four times on his nine catches, and there’s help on the way from the JUCO ranks and with a few new receivers ready to rise up.

Gavin Hardison did his part to make the offense go. The junior threw for 3,223 yards and 18 touchdowns averaging nine yards per throw. Now he has to relax on the interceptions after throwing 13.

The offensive line is one of the best the program has had in years. Three Honorable Mention All-Conference USA blockers are back, starting with Andrew Meyer at center and with two good parts on the right side in guard Elijah Klein and tackle Jeremiah Byers.

The backs are there to do even more. Ronald Awatt led the team with 854 yards and six scores – averaging 5.4 yards per carry – and Deion Hankins is a good veteran who ran for 453 yards and six touchdowns. They’ll combine for over 1,300 yards again behind this line.

UTEP Miners Preview 2022: Defense

Where did that come from? The defense was solid against the run, allowed just 25 points per game, and finished second in Conference USA giving up 349 yards per game. With eight starters back and seven all-stars returning, the Miners should do it all again.

The 1-2 linebacking punch of Breon Hayward and Tyrice Knight combined for 210 tackles and should be the rock of the defense again. They’re the big, active 2 in the 4-2-5, and they should stay clean behind a big, experienced line.

Praise Amaewhule is among the best pass rushers in Conference USA with 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He’s set on one side, leading sacker Jadrian Taylor is back on the other, and 300-pounders Kelton Moss and Keenan Stewart lock things up on the inside. this group will be even better against the run.

The transfer portal is helping out the secondary with Kobe Hylton coming in from Louisiana for one safety job and Josiah Allen a good JUCO transfer at corner. Dennis Barnes was third on the team with 59 tackles, and CB Corey Richardson led the team with eight broken up passes.

Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UTEP Top 10 Players | UTEP Schedule

UTEP Miners: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

UTEP Miners: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

UTEP Miners: Key To The 2022 Offense

Enough with the turnovers.

The Miners need to be far better on third downs, and they have to find more downfield plays without Jacob Cowing around now. But more than anything else for an offense with the experience and upside to be good, the mistakes have to slow down.

UTEP turned the ball over 24 times. It gave it up six times against Boise State, four times against Louisiana Tech, three times against UAB, and it turned it over multiple times in six games.

When it didn’t turn it over two or more times, the team was 5-2.

Limiting the turnovers isn’t going to be a catch-all for the various problems, but it would be a huge help.

UTEP Miners: Key To The 2022 Defense

The run defense has to hold up.

It’s all relative. Just two years ago, the UTEP run defense allowed 5.6 yards per carry and got hammered for 150 yards or more in eight of the last ten games. That was par for the course over several years for the Miner D.

Last year it only allowed 3.9 yards per carry, but it gave up 22 touchdown runs with 15 of them coming over the last six games, losing five of them.

UTEP was 6-1 when allowing fewer than 140 rushing yards, and 1-5 when it gave up more.

UTEP Miners: Key Player To The 2022 Season

WR Tyrin Smith, Jr.
The Miners need to keep stretching the field and making big plays. One of the keys to the offense last season was the ability of Jacob Cowing to get deep, and now someone else needs to help make the O go.

Smith had a nice season as the third-leading receiver, catching 33 passes for 570 yards and four scores – averaging over 17 yards per catch. Now he needs to do even more.

UTEP Miners: Key Transfer

WR/KR Marcus Bellon, Soph.
UTEP was awful in the return game. It averaged just 5.4 yards per punt return, and was among the worst in America in kickoff returns averaging 17.4 yards per try.

Enter Bellon, a transfer from Santa Barbara CC who averaged 21.7 yards per punt return and 32 yards per kickoff return. A receiver, he’ll be used as a dangerous playmaker on offense, too.

UTEP Key Game To The 2022 Season

North Texas, Aug. 27
Just how real was the great 2021 season? Winning or losing in Week 0 isn’t necessarily going to make or break just how good the Miners will be this year, but beating North Texas at home in the opener would go a long way to trying to keep the magic going.

UTEP lost 20-17 year to the Mean Green, but this time it’s in El Paso. Win, and with New Mexico State coming up in a few weeks, there’s a good shot at a 2-1 start – assuming a loss at Oklahoma.

UTEP Miners: 2021 Fun Stats

– Time of Possession: UTEP 31:51 – Opponents 27:55
– Fumbles: UTEP 22 (lost 10) – Opponents 13 (lost 6)
– Points Per Game: Opponents 25.2 – UTEP 25.1

Offense, Defense Breakdown
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
UTEP Top 10 Players | UTEP Schedule

UTEP Miners Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

UTEP Miners Season Prediction, What Will Happen

The team should be better, but it’s going to be a fight to get back to another winning season and to another bowl game.

2004-2005 was the last time the program went to back-to-back bowl games, and this year’s experienced team certainly has the upside to pull it off.

However, it’s not like the 2021 team was whacking Alabama and Georgia on the way to the 7-6 season.

The beat team it beat was … Old Dominion?

This year’s version has the upside to beat some of the better Conference USA teams, but remember, last year’s team went 1-5 to close out the year.

Set The UTEP Miners Regular Season Win Total At … 5

It should be able to beat New Mexico State, and it’ll come up with a few home wins – maybe North Texas in the opener and later on against FIU and/or Middle Tennessee – but getting past five wins will be tough.

Five wins is nothing to get upset over for a program that struggled for so long just to be competitive, but can UTEP pull off a few good road wins? It came up with two last year, but it’ll likely be the underdog in all six of them.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
UTEP Top 10 Players | UTEP Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News