EL PASO – UTEP is giving a nod to the vintage Texas Western era on Saturday, when the Miners will wear throwback uniforms (orange helmet, orange jerseys with white numbers, white pants) in their home game against 2-1 New Mexico.
“We’re really excited about the Texas Western uniforms that we’re going to be able to wear and pay tribute to some of the very good Miner football teams in the past,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “I think they’re really a cool model of uniform that we showed to the players. I know they are excited about it.”
Pardon the pun, but it is fitting that the Miners will don the vintage uniforms.
UTEP is expected to be a throwback, wanting to control the clock and run the football. If successful, that will be a treat for the alumni from the Texas Western era who will be on hand at the Sun Bowl Stadium.
The Miners (2-1) have had at least 40 rushing attempts in each game and are ranked third in the nation in time of possession (40:21 per game). That’s when they are at their best.
Junior running back Ronald Awatt leads UTEP with 244 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 45 carries, but the Miners also use other running backs, including Willie Eldridge (123 yards), Deion Hankins (50 yards) and Quardraiz Wadley (62 yards).
UNM, coming off a 34-0 loss at No. 7-ranked Texas A&M, is eager to take on the Miners, who were 3-point favorites late Friday.
“We’re expecting a physical game,” UNM senior outside linebacker Devin Sanders said. “They like to run the ball. We know what to expect. They run the ball over 50% of the time. That’s our mindset: Just to hit hard.”
Sanders said the loss to A&M was a hard lesson for the defense, which allowed two touchdown passes within the first six minutes.
The Lobos’ offense will be looking to respond with a greater effort after the frustration last week in College Station. The Lobos are determined to get off to a fast start. UNM quarterback Terry Wilson had directed the Lobos to touchdowns on each of their first drives of the two games (wins over Houston Baptist and New Mexico State) before A&M.
“Two very similar programs,” UNM coach Danny Gonzales said of the Lobos and Miners. “They’re a year ahead of us in trying to rebuild a program with a new coaching staff. Coach Dimel has done a great job. I think it will be a great atmosphere. It’s a good series that hasn’t been played in seven years. That’s too bad. I think it should be played quite often.”
UTEP opened its season with a 30-3 win at New Mexico State, which lost at UNM 34-25 on Sept. 11.
SATURDAY: UNM at UTEP, 7 p.m., ESPN+ streaming, 770 AM/96.3 FM