Football

Schedule Challenges: Two UTEP Miners to Watch

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2020 Schedule Challenges: USF | LSU

The 2020 season is still too far away, but each part of Texas’ schedule has obstacles that are identifiable this far out. This series will serve to identify a specific challenge each opponent on the 2020 schedule provides.

When UTEP visits Austin on September 19th, they’ll likely arrive 0-2 after games versus Texas Tech and at Nevada. What does that mean? The Miners should walk into Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium 2-24 in 26 games under Dana Dimel.

Things haven’t been easy Dimel. After leaving Bill Snyder’s staff for El Paso prior to the 2018 season, Dimel has struggled with the task of running a FBS program in a city 10.5 hours from Houston, eight hours from San Antonio, nine hours from Fort Worth, six hours from Lubbock, and six hours from Phoenix, AZ.

It’s difficult to attract talent to El Paso. The best Miner in recent memory, current Green Bay Packer running back Aaron Jones, was a local product from Burges High School. When Texas last faced UTEP in 2016, Jones ran for 123 yards and a score on 18 carries.

Dimel probably doesn’t have a player as talented as Jones, but there are a couple of Miners who Texas should keep an eye on before heading into the bye.

IT spoke with Shehan Jeyarajah of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football to see who Texas might need to watch closely when the Miners come to town. Jeyarajah offered two names: Devaughn Cooper and Quardraiz Wadley.

Cooper is a junior wide receiver who transferred from Arizona. He played in four games last year and had 10 receptions for 147 yards before suffering a season-ending injury. During the 2018 season at Arizona, Cooper caught 18 passes for 368 yards.

“He’s the one potential big addition and it’ll help that UTEP has a pass-first QB now in Gavin Hardison instead of Kai Locksley,” Jeyarajah said.

Wadley, a senior running back from Kennedale, missed all of 2019 due to a toe injury. His 2018 season was his best as a Miner. He rushed for 627 yards on 123 carries with 7 touchdowns. He hauled in 6 catches for 91 yards and one score, too.

“He’s a really talented player when he’s healthy and will likely be the centerpiece of their running game — and they have typically been a rushing offense,” Jeyarajah said.

Texas will be massive favorites versus the Miners in what will be the sixth contest between the two schools. Clyde Littlefield and Mack Brown each won a pair of matchups with UTEP, while Charlie Strong cruised past a Jones-led 2016 team.

The bye week follows UTEP, then the Longhorns embark on nine straight weeks of Big 12 football, hoping their record through that stretch results in a tenth game in Arlington for the Big 12 Championship.