Boise State vs. UTEP: Get To Know The Miners
UTEP is 2-0.
Old WAC foes meet up
Boise State is still looking for its first win of the year and they are hosting UTEP who looks to be improved and is 2-0 on the year. The Miners are not really a threat to beat the Broncos as they are more than a three-touchdown underdog.
1. UTEP is 2-0 and is seemingly better than they have been in a bit. Their wins were over New Mexico State and Bethune Cookman, not great teams, but what improvement has there been with the Miners?
Coming into the season, the Miners returned a lot of starters on both sides of the ball. Their passing game has looked vastly improved thus far. Quarterback Gavin Hardison seems to have a solid command over the offense. Their dynamic wide receiver duo in Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett have lived up to the hype. Defensively, their pass rush is noticeably better. Led by pass rusher Praise Amaewhule and defensive tackle Keenan Stewart, UTEP’s four-man front boasts experience and depth.
2. One area Boise State struggled was to give QB Hank Bachmeier upright, what type of pass rush do the Miners have?
UTEP’s pass rush was inconsistent last year, but it is noticeably better this year. Besides Amaewhule and Stewart, UTEP has Kelton Moss, newcomer Tevita Tafuna and Josh Ortega on their defensive line. Then again, the Miners defense looked good against a bad NM State team and an FCS opponent. This is UTEP’s first real test.
3. What areas of this UTEP team could give Boise State problems?
Besides the passing game and the pass rush, the Miners’ running game continues to impress me. They’ve been without their standout tailback Deion Hankins since the second quarter against the Aggies, yet they’ve managed to produce with senior Ronald Awatt, freshman Willie Eldridge and do-it-all back Rey Flores. This is a run-first team and they will show it Friday.
4. What is the ultimate purpose of this game? Coach Dana Diel mentioned things like exposure, recruiting, and trying for a signature win for UTEP?
The Miners and their fan base are desperate for relevance after being at the bottom of Conference USA for more than five years. A win would already exceed most expectations placed on this group. This is their toughest test until conference play and they will need the test before they take on C-USA teams.
5. How do you see this game playing out?
UTEP loses but hangs in. The Miners will give Boise State a game at first but ultimately fall on the road. Bachmeier has the potential to torch the UTEP secondary. I think he has a strong bounce back game on Friday and gets Boise State to 1-1.