Stock Up, Stock Down following UTEP’s loss to New Mexico
After an embarrassing loss to rival New Mexico, I want to continue my Stock Up, Stock Down series.
There weren’t many bright spots in the 27-10 loss, but we did see some players improve their stock and it provided Miner fans with some sort of silver lining. Of course, with a loss this bad, there were some players whose stock plummeted following this game. We are going to go over each player who I think either brought their stock up or whose stock fell.
Welcome to Stock Up, Stock Down, UTEP football edition.
Stock Up: Cal Wallerstedt
All over the field. That is the sentence to describe the way Wallerstedt played Saturday. The redshirt junior from Harrisburg, North Carolina, continues to surprise Miner fans and be one of the better players on the UTEP defense. After making his first start against NMSU last week, where he also earned a “Stock Up”, Wallerstedt totaled 7 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3.5 tackles for loss. He currently leads C-USA in TFLs with 6, and is second in sacks, with 3. Pretty impressive for someone who came into the season as a fourth-string linebacker. He has been a playmaker and is always going all out every single play. He brings great energy to this defense and continues to be one of the only bright spots on this team.
Stock Down: Gavin Hardison
When you are a 3rd-year starter playing against a below-average team, you are expected to have a good game. For Hardison, however, he had one of the worst games as a Miner. The Redshirt Junior went 19-44, 280 yards, and 3 interceptions. Now, some may put the blame on the play calling, which is warranted, but there is no doubt that Hardison was off against the Lobos. The throws just weren’t there. It felt like he was consistently overthrowing his receivers, holding onto the ball too long, or just missing open guys. Ever since the OU game, Hardison just hasn’t been the same. As I said, the blame can be also put on the inconsistent play calling, but everyone who watched the game knows Hardison played well below average.
Stock Down: Offensive Play Calling
Yikes. Back-to-back weeks where the play calling gets a Stock Down. When UTEP played OU, there were a couple of drives where it felt like UTEP’s offense was just too much for the OU defense. The Miners attacked OU with an up-tempo, short passing scheme. The Miners were moving the ball exceptionally well against one of the best defenses in the Big 12. Those short and quick passes opened up some lanes for the run game. It felt like the offense found its identity. Then, the play calls got a little wacky. Dimel continues to want to go deep. Even with the running game looking better each week, the Miners keep taking deep shots, and it just doesn’t work. Against UNM, UTEP kept running the same slot fade time after time, and each time they did, it was broken up for an incompletion. Eventually, the Miners ran this play again and it resulted in a Lobo interception. You’d think after all that, the Miners wouldn’t run that play again, but surprise, they did. Yes, the Miners finally completed a deep pas, which resulted in Tyrin Smith fumbling the ball). The bottom line is Dana Dimel continues to call deep passes when it is painfully obvious that they don’t work. The Miners won’t win another football game if this continues. The pressure is on for Dimel and company to get the offense moving. The run game looked very good against UNM, but the Miners kept forcing the ball deep. Players like Ronald Awatt were frustrated following the game. We have all seen when UTEP simplifies the game plan and attacks the short passing game, the offense runs great. If Dimel can consistently call plays like that, then the offense will be fine. If he cannot, however, the offense will continue to plummet.
Stock Up: Deion Hankins
Deion Hankins has had a rough year. From battling injuries last season to seeing limited carries to start the season, the former all-freshman deserved a game like this. Despite only totaling 31 yards on 7 attempts, we finally saw Hankins get back to his bruising style of running. There was a drive in this game where Hankins looked like a premier back in C-USA. He capped off this drive by scoring his first touchdown of the year. If UTEP can get this type of play from Hankins and Awatt, it could relieve some of the offense pressure on Hardison. I hope to see Hankins and Awatt getting some carries against Boise State this week.
Stock Down: Dana Dimel
Maybe you can put Dana Dimel and offensive play calling together, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to put two separate stock downs. Dana Dimel has yet to beat a team over .500 in his tenure with UTEP. He has a record of 13-36 with the Miners. Now, no one is discrediting the job that he has done to bring UTEP football from an 0-12 team to a bowl game, but fans are tired of the inconsistent play calls, the questionable recruiting, the lack of engagement with the community, and simply losing. The Miners are now 2-8 after their hot 6-1 start last year. Their only two wins are to Rice and NMSU. It’s beginning to feel like fans are realizing most of the wins UTEP gets are against bad teams. Fans are slowly beginning to turn their back on Dimel. If something doesn’t change fast, Dimel could be in a whole lot of trouble.
Stock Up: Tyrice Knight
Let's end this article with a Stock Up. Following last week's win against NMSU, I gave Tyrice Knight a stock down. I felt like he was missing tackles and not filling the gaps. Well, he shut me up this week. He and Wallerstedt were all over the place, making tackle after tackle. Knight was in the backfield all day and made his presence known in the passing game, too. Knight totaled 14 tackles, 2 tackles for losses, and a forced fumble. He played very well and looked like the linebacker we all thought he would be coming into this season.
Almost Stock Up
DT Keenan Stewart
S Ty’Reke James
Almost Stock Down
WR Tyrin Smith
WR Rey Flores
The Bottom Line
Things will need to change if UTEP wants to compete with Boise State this Friday. Will UTEP’s get good play calling and compete against the Broncos? Or will they continue down a path that most teams dread going down, losing.