Coming off of a fantastic regular season for the Miners, I had to immediately start getting ready to type out some solid stats, potential records broken and more. This UTEP Football team is special for myriad reasons. The overall record currently is 7-5 with a bowl game left to play. So much so, that I felt it necessary to share some of the amazing accolades/records being broken right in front of us! Like the SICKOS Bowl Train, this Miner Hype Train is coming full steam!
It comes as no surprise that the crown jewel of UTEP’s season stats prowess comes from none other than Jacob Cowing! This young man currently sits #5 nationally in total receiving yards! That alone is truly remarkable considering our recent football history. Though in the UTEP history books, he has an opportunity to rewrite a ton this season and throughout his career. Against Rice, he tied the career mark with 13 games with 100+ receiving yards, which he later broke in the season finale against UAB. In that same game his season total arrived at the impressive number of 1,330 yards, whick would be second all-time if the season ended today. In order to be the all-time single season yardage leader, he needs 189 more receiving yards. At #6 on the all-time receiving yards list, he needs 107 more yards to leap #5 all time, Kris Adams (‘07-‘10) and #4 Reggie Barrett (‘87-90), respectively. Can both of those marks be broken in the Miners bowl game?
Senior Justin Garrett ended the regular season with his best overall statistacal year at UTEP. Garrett posted career highs in recptions (49), recieving yards (659) and touchdowns (4). Justin needs just 20 yards to pass JJ Rowlett (‘91-‘94) and Ed Puishes (‘69-‘71) respectively, to leap into 13th all-time at UTEP. He has been a tremendous leader on and off the field and definitely personifies the #LiveLikeLuke attitude for the Miners.
Coach Dana Dimel earned his seventh win against Rice at home in front of the Miner faithful. I could not be prouder of him for being upfront since day one on what his path would look like and how he would need everyone to buy-in to make it work. Their seventh win not only guarantees him and the Miners a winning season, but also puts Dimel in rare company in the UTEP history books for a coach/team to earn seven or more wins in a season. His name is now mentioned with Sean Kugler (‘14), Mike Price (‘04-‘05), Gary Nord (‘00), Bob Stull (‘87-’88), Robert Dubbs (‘65,‘67), Mike Brumbelow (‘50,’53-‘54,’56), Jack Curtice (‘48-‘49) and Mike Saxon (‘37). The Miners have one game left that could add another victory to this season’s total and move Dimel in to rarer categories of an eight win season at UTEP.
For most points scored in UTEP history, we have a plethera of student-athletes who are climbing the ranks each game. Whether it be a touchdown, 2-point conversion, extra point or field goal, we are setting off fireworks in the endzone on the regular and daps and handshakes are everywhere on the sidelines. As I researched the list for this article on the all-time list, Ronald Awatt (#42), Justin Garrett (#32), Quadraiz Waley (#29), Jacob Cowing (#20), Deion Hankins (#19) and Gavin Baechle (#9) are all setting the record straight with their fantastic scoring ability this season. And with one more game this season, these historical rankings are sure to change for some of the players I just listed.
UTEP’s defense has improved year after year in so many categories that many around the country are taking notice. UTEP defensive coordinatoractor, Bradley Dale Peveto, is gaining national recognition for his efforts and I hope he is rewarded with some C-USA hardware for top assistant in the league. His defense currently ranks #30 in total defense nationally! In my time as a fan, I do not ever remember us being this high in that category. Along with that, the Miners are ranked nationally at #48 via tie in total tackles for loss, #11 via tie in defensive 3rd down percentage (32%) and #54 in scoring defense. This is an astronomical accomplishment for a first year DC at a small program.
The Miner defense collectively is performing at a high level week in and week out. It has truly been our most consistent piece of success for the team as a whole. Individually, we have a few student-athletes who are in amazing company for where they stand nationally in their respective categories. Breon Hayward currently sits 49th nationally in total tackles (55 solo/43 asst.). He is accompanied with Praise Amaewhule who is 28th nationally in forced fumbles and Jadrian Taylor who sits in the Top 75 nationally via tie in total sacks (6.5). Dy’vonne Inyang sits tied at #30 nationally in interceptions. All of these young men have the ability to climb drastically in the ranks with strong play in the bowl game as some of the players ahead of them will not be playing a bowl game due to their respective team’s record.
Writing this brought back tremendous memories of my time at UTEP as a student (‘04-‘08), and countless others as a fan. Some of the records being broken are our current players leap frogging a few guys I went to class with or saw around El Paso as a kid. As fans, we are watching history unfold in front of us and enjoying being in national conversations in select categories that UTEP quite possibly has never been mentioned in before. Especially for those few players that have been in the conversations all year long. UTEP will end this season with a winning record, go to a bowl game and continue to shock the national talking heads whom traditionally show bias to a select few power conferences and teams. And to that I say, WELL DONE!