(The University of Texas at El Paso - UTEP).

UTEP Football Preview: Miners Look To Contend for C-USA in 2023

The University of Texas at El Paso Miners have a serious shot at the Conference USA title heading into 2023. With the University of Texas at San Antonio going to the American Athletic Conference, and UTEP having weapons on both sides of the ball, the Miners have all the right ingredients for a successful season. Follow all the UTEP Miners news at FanBuzz.com.

UTEP 2023 Preview

The conference: Conference USA

2022 record: 5-7

Conference finish: Eighth place, 3-5 in C-USA

Head coach: Dana Dimel, in his sixth year at school, with a 17-40 record; heading into his 12th year overall, with a 47-79 record. His prior head coaching experience was from 1997 to 2002 at Wyoming and Houston.

Five all-star candidates: Praise Amaewhule, defensive end (2022 stats: 24 tackles, 8 quarterback hurries); Keenan Stewart, defensive tackle (2022 stats: 23 tackles, 7 quarterback hurries); Cal Wallersted, linebacker (6.5 tackles for loss, 1 pass defended); Deion Hankins, running back (701 running yards, 5.0 yards per rushing attempt); Tyrin Smith, wide receiver (1,039 receiving yards, 14.6 yards average per reception).

The newcomer: AJ Odums, cornerback, transferred from New Mexico State (57 tackles, including 34 solo; 2.0 tackles for loss; and an interception, all prior to UTEP).

Praise Amaewhule

UTEP's Praise Amaewhule is one of the top defensive players in C-USA this year. (Photo credit: UTEP Athletics)

The Breakdown

2023 is an exciting year for UTEP Miners fans. The offensive and defensive lines are some of the strongest in the conference, with some superstars in positions such as running back and cornerback. There are no glaring holes in the roster besides the one left by departed kicker Gavin Baechle, and there's time to find a replacement. The lack of holes can be attributed to picking transfers, JOCO players and freshmen well in the 2022 offseason.

Not only is UTEP spilling over with talent, but its head coach, Dana Dimel, knows it. Dimel is incredibly positive, and he knows greatness when he sees it. His enthusiasm for his players on both sides of the ball heading into 2023 solidifies the fans' confidence as well. Dimel is a strong leader, and teams that don't watch out for UTEP will regret it.

The Key Game

UTEP and New Mexico State are intense rivals. They are in the same conference this year, and their Oct. 18 game will be intense.

The Toughest Games

Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, UTEP will face some challenging opponents in the first two weeks of the season, in this author's opinion.

Jacksonville State has a talented team that led its conference last year, although that 9-2 record was mostly in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Gamecocks' win-loss record makes for rock-solid competition and a stressful first game in Alabama on Aug. 26.

The University of the Incarnate Word was a very strong team last year in the FCS and would give some G5 teams a run for their money, and they won't be any kind of a non-conference pushover for UTEP on Sept. 2.

The Chances of Reaching the C-USA Title Game

The C-USA title has consistently escaped UTEP. This year could be that "challenger" year, or could it? What are the chances that the Miners will be eligible for a bowl game? In this author's opinion, the chances are 100% that will happen, again.


Deion Hankins is feeling like "Tankins" and is slated to be one of the best running backs in C-USA in 2023. (Ruben R Ramirez/UTEP Miners)

The Prediction

Heading into 2023, a reasonable prediction for the UTEP Miners is above .500, but how far above? The Big Ten's Northwestern (with its internal, off-the-field issues) and Louisiana Tech could be wins in the non-conference slate.

New Mexico State, Liberty, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee will be the tougher contests within the conference, and the Pac-12's Arizona will be a tough task. The rest of the C-USA slate is winnable. The Miners are good at pulling off upsets (Boise State in 2022, for example), so we suspect at least one good upset in 2023 could happen.

UTEP's record was misleadingly low in 2022. Dimel has been improving his team slowly and steadily over the past five seasons. A less-trained eye may not see his carefully crafted upward trajectory, but we know better: One city. One team.