Mountain West Football: Early Preview of Nevada VS UTEP
Here is a preview of the Nevada Wolf Pack’s contest against the UTEP Miners.
An Early Preview of Nevada Vs UTEP
In the fourth installment of Nevada’s early preview of the Wolf Pack’s out of conference slate, we preview Nevada’s contest against the UTEP Miners out of Conference USA. The contest between the Wolf Pack and the Miners is set for Saturday, September 21st at 5pm and will be on ESPN3.
The Miners are coming off a 2018 season in which they were an abysmal 1-11. The UTEP offense was a disaster and the defense was slightly better but the key contributors on that defense are gone. Given the desolate state UTEP football is in heading into the 2019 season, the Wolf Pack should be able to defeat the Miners.
On offense for UTEP, they return eight starters from last year’s team and at quarterback, they have a pair of quarterbacks who could see playing time in 2019. Kai Locksley could get the start for the Miners early in the season. Locksley, who missed time last season due to an ankle injury, only passed for 937 yards and threw only three touchdowns and threw nine interceptions. Locksley did display good running abilities in 2018 as he ran for 340 yards and scored six rushing touchdowns.
If Locksley is hurt or ineffective, the Miners have an experienced back-up quarterback in Brandon Jones who played in six games last season in relief of Locksley. The UTEP offensive line was very young and their played showed it as they gave up the most sacks in Conference USA in 2018. The offensive line returns four starters and hopefully for the Miners, the offensive line takes a major step forward in improvement.
If the offensive line improves for UTEP, this would be good news for the running backs returning for the Miners. Quardraiz Wadley (627 yards,seven touchdowns in 2018) and Treyvon Hughes (320 yards, 4.4 yards per carry in 2018) were the top two running back for the Mines in 2018 and both look to anchor the rushing attack for UTEP.
The Miners will need to lean in on their rushing attack given that UTEP lost four of their top five receivers from 2018. Given that the passing game for UTEP struggled due to bad quarterback play, losing that many receivers from the previous season is a problem. The receiving corps for UTEP does have some fast players in Tre’Shon Wolf, Walter Dawn Jr., and Keynan Foster so if the quarterbacks can get the ball to these receivers, then the passing game can take a great leap forward.
On defense, UTEP has to replace its top five defensive linemen, top two linebackers and three defensive backs from last season. Despite the losses, the Miners do return a pair of talented defensive linemen in Denzel Chukwukelu and Chris Richardson and in the linebacker corps Sione Tupou, who led the Miners in tackles last season, returns for UTEP.
The secondary for the Miners will be thin in depth but does return veteran cornerback Josh Caldwell and experienced safeties Justin Rogers and Michael Lewis.
In conclusion, UTEP is a team that was in total rebuild mode in 2018 and all signs point to this team still being in rebuild mode in 2019. The offense does have some talented running backs but the quarterback play is a serious question mark and the offensive line while returning four starters is a unit that was porous in 2018.
The defense does return some contributors from last season but for the most part is in rebuilding as well. Given UTEP’s problems on offense and defense, the Nevada Wolf Pack should not have many problems when they take on the Miners on September 21st in El Paso.