UTEP Football Makes the Right Second Half Adjustments To Win
Anyone who has ever followed UTEP football knows that the Miners are not known for their second half adjustments. In fact, this football team is better known for the opposite; getting outplayed and outcoached in the final 30 minutes of a close game. On Saturday night, UTEP stunk up the Sun Bowl for the first half and trailed a University of New Mexico team missing six of their eight receivers by a score of 13-3. At that point, the Miner offense had three first downs and a total of 100 yards on offense. Then, something strange happened. The home team went into the locker room and came out with a totally different group of football players.
The Miners shut out UNM in the second half and they held the Lobos to just three first downs and 71 total yards of offense (compared to 14 first downs and 217 total yards in the first half). Meanwhile, the UTEP passing game came alive in the third quarter, led by quarterback Gavin Hardison and receivers Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett. The Miners scored a pair of touchdowns and racked up 178 total yards, with 161 of them coming through the air. Hardison, who struggled in the first half, looked like a completely different player in the third quarter, getting into a rhythm and connecting often with his two favorite targets. Suddenly, the Miners were not just alive but thriving in a passing offense that made up for their lack of running game thanks to a Lobos run defense that is currently ranked 11th nationally.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of talk following the game is that UTEP defeated a New Mexico team that had lost 6 of its 8 receivers to COVID just prior to the contest at the Sun Bowl. However, two of UNM quarterback Terry Wilson's main targets (Luke Wysong and Andrew Erickson) played in the game but they were mostly held in check thanks to the Miners defense. Meanwhile, Cowing and Garrett accounted for 279 of UTEP's 293 passing yards. New Mexico defensive coordinator Rocky Long knew that the Miners had only two main weapons in their passing game, but he still could not stop them in the third quarter.
Dana Dimel is in his fourth season as UTEP head coach and despite his team's 3-1 overall record, he still does not have many believers in the El Paso area. The Sun Bowl announced attendance was just over 15,000 for the UNM game, an embarrassment considering the team's overall record and rivalry game against their once WAC rivals. However, the Miners were blown out in their previous game in Boise, putting doubts into the Miner Nation once again that their team was not nearly as good as they looked early on. Now, they have a chance to improve their record to 4-1 this Saturday night when they host Old Dominion at the Sun Bowl in their C-USA opener. Not only should Miner fans hop on the bandwagon again, but now they know that they have a team that is capable on making the RIGHT adjustments at halftime in order to win football games.