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2018

UTEP

College Football

Betting Preview

UTEP was a mess last year failing to win and losing all but one game by at least 14 points. And so, changes had to be made. The Miners brought in Dana Dimel, formerly the offensive coordinator at Kansas State, to be head coach. He has a lot of work ahead of him joined by Mike Canales, former Tennessee QBs coach and Mike Cox, former K State linebackers coach. Unsurprisingly their over/under is sitting at 2.5 wins with the worst odds (+75000) to win C-USA at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The first step for the coaching staff is figuring out its new quarterback. Last year’s junior college player of the year, Kai Locksley, who had 40 total touchdowns, was the leader after spring practices. He’ll compete with Ryan Metz, who started a few games last season and completed less than 50 percent of his passes to go with three touchdowns and six interceptions. In what is likely to be an offense similar to what Kansas State runs, Locksley has the edge due to his mobility as a dual-threat QB. Unfortunately, only two starters return from 2017’s group that scored 11.8 points per game. The line has both of those starters with another coming off injury. Running back Quadraiz Wadley (4.8 ypc) has talent, but battled injuries last season. If he can stay healthy, that may be UTEP’s best route of attack. That said, the offense passed a ton in the spring so receivers Terry Juniel (224 yards), Kavika Johnson (163 yards) and tight end David Lucero (129 yards) need to be ready for more work. 

It’s a little better on the defensive side with six starters returning led by four of those in the secondary (3-3-5 scheme). That includes seniors Nik Needham and Kalon Beverly at corner and three upperclassmen at safety. The front of this unit was the main problem as the defense allowed 234 rushing yards per game and that was what every opponent did against UTEP last year. Jayson VanHook has to step into the lead linebacking role after missing last year due to injury, while the line needs some work. Outside of returning starters Denzel Chukwukelu, Trace Mascorro and K State transfer C.J. Reese on the line, there’s little else help.

The problem for UTEP is seen in the opener in which it’s an 8-point underdog against FCS school Northern Arizona (as of late July). If the Miners can’t win that game at home, there are only so many other spots for wins. That includes home games against NMSU and UAB and maybe even the trip to Rice or UTSA. As a reminder, Rice had one win last year and it was against UTEP, a 31-14 result. If Locksley comes in and shows some potency in Dimel’s offense, there should be an upset or two on the schedule. But expecting a team that got blown out in 11 games last year to turn things around immediately is a tall ask. If you don’t want to bet on UTEP for the season, it’s reasonable to take them in the opener, as NAU wasn’t an overly good FCS team last year, finishing 7-5.

 

2018 UTEP Miners Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Northern Arizona

Sept. 8 at UNLV

Sept. 15 at Tennessee

Sept. 22 vs. New Mexico State

Sept. 29 at UTSA

Oct. 6 vs. North Texas

Oct. 20 at Louisiana Tech

Oct. 27 vs. UAB

Nov. 3 at Rice

Nov. 10 vs. Middle Tennessee

Nov. 17 at Western Kentucky

Nov. 24 vs. Southern Miss

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