UTEP Football Focuses on Charlotte Following Last Week’s Postponement
Following an unusual weekend of a postponed contest, the UTEP football team (3-2, 0-1 C-USA) will regroup this week for their third straight road contest as they get set to face Charlotte (1-2, 1-1) on Saturday, Oct. 24.
Last week, head coach Dana Dimel had a simple message leading into their home game against Southern Miss: "Not excited about losing by four [versus LA Tech, 21-17], I'm angry we didn't win by two touchdowns."
The Golden Eagles were forced to postpone their game against the Miners this past weekend, leaving the Miners with an unexpected off week. Similarly, the 49ers saw their game on Saturday against Florida International postponed. For Dimel and this week's preparation, it's about sending a message to players that encourages them to remain focused.
"Charlotte is anxious to play and they want to play some football," he said following the news of their postponements. "[The postponement] happened just like us—something out of their control. They're anxious to play just like we are."
Historically speaking, UTEP has been abysmal against teams from the eastern time zone. They are 0-24-1 all-time in eastern time zone games, most recently losing to FIU last year.
"We're a more mature team than before. This is our fourth road game. I think our team is accustomed to playing on the road," Dimel said in regards to the lopsided record.
Offensively, the Miners have been brilliant to start the season. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison leads the way and enters Saturday's game with 1,056 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He is only the third sophomore in program history to throw 1,000+ through the first five games of the season. Wide receivers Jacob Cowing (440 receiving yards) and Justin Garrett (338) are Hardison's top two targets. On the ground, freshman tailback Deion Hankins is atop UTEP's leaders with 300 rushing yards and five touchdowns in four games played.
The UTEP defense is coming off one of their best performances this year against LA Tech. Besides the thrashing against Texas earlier this year, the Miners have held opponents to averaging 13.5 points per game. The 13 tackles for loss against LA Tech was the most for the program in nearly 16 years (10/30/2004 vs. San Jose State). Sophomore defensive end Praise Amaewhule leads the conference in sacks (6) and averages 1.2 sacks per game.
For the 49ers, their most recent matchup came with a win against North Texas, 49-21. Charlotte beat the Miners 28-21 last year in the programs' first matchup in school history. Quarterback Chris Reynolds is averaging 248 passing yards per game while receivers Victor Tucker (177) and Micaleous Elder (135) are his top two targets. Charlotte is No. 1 in FBS for time of possession and No. 2 in the country for red zone defense.
"I think we only had 58 snaps last year," Dimel said. "It's important for us to be good on third down on both sides of the ball. Charlotte is good at first downs. Both teams play similar styles."
Kickoff is set for 10 AM Saturday morning and you can listen to all the coverage beginning at 9 AM MST on 600 ESPN El Paso. It will be televised on ESPN+.