Can Calvin Brownholtz & Squad Push UTEP to a Consecutive Bowl Game?
Fresh off his second start in a UTEP uniform, quarterback Calvin Brownholtz is entering the season's final week with a chance to lead the Miners into San Antonio and steal the final victory necessary to become bowl eligible for consecutive seasons.
In short, Brownholtz would be remembered as a folk hero if he stepped in and helped the Miners reach bowl eligibility against the No. 25 team in the country.
Though, this might be a moot discussion if the Miners roll with starter Gavin Hardison at the quarterback spot. Dimel was hushed about who will play between the two at his press conference Monday, citing that Hardison was running through drills at practice.
"It's an advantage for us if the opponent doesn't know who we'll play," Dimel said.
And unquestionably, the defense is essentially what got them to this point. UTEP is ranked No. 26 in the nation in total defense, including No. 33 in passing yards allowed. They are also a nationally-ranked defense in the red zone (No. 33) and on third downs (No. 41). Defensive end Jadrian Taylor is leading C-USA with 8.5 sacks on the year.
Then comes the fact that UTEP has lost five straight games to the Roadrunners, including a 44-23 defeat last year in what was a highly anticipated matchup going into the game. The Miners have been historically bad against UTSA, losing seven of their nine matchups.
If the season comes down to Brownholtz leading this offense against the best team in C-USA, it's likely the Miners' best option. Even if Hardison is healthy, it's hard to brush off how well the offense has looked in the short time that Brownholtz has taken over. If Hardison is not 100%, more the reason to put in the dual-threat Brownholtz against UTSA.
In the best offensive performance of the season when the Miners manhandled Florida International, 40-6, Brownholltz shined with 190 passing yards (12-of-18 passing) and two passing touchdowns. With Brownholtz, defenses must keep his dual-threat abilities honest.
"Calvin did a really good job of checking into things when they were there," Dimel explained> "He's been in the system a long time. He has a lot of reps banked... He threw some deep balls right on the money on a couple of occasions. He took some of the control routes when they were there. He did a good job of mixing up the cadences and kept them off balance. He did a lot of things experienced quarterbacks do."
Some might argue it doesn't matter who UTEP puts in at quarterback. After all, UTEP amassed 334 yards on the ground against FIU in the win last week, which was the most rushing yards in the Dimel era. They ran the ball 64 times to just 18 pass attempts. However, Brownholtz does allow for more designed runs at the quarterback position compared to Hardison.
If Hardison is in, UTEP will have more of a pocket passer lead their offense. If it's Brownholtz, the offense can get a little bit of everything.
"This is a big game. A win would be outstanding and tremendous and it would take us to a bowl game," Dimel said. "It's a great opportunity, a great setting and I love playing big games on Thanksgiving weekend."
A win would mean the name Calvin Brownholtz will be written in the UTEP football history records for years to remember. This is his final year at UTEP, as he was honored on senior day. Imagine him going out on top like this?
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