Ahead of the Longhorns’ home opener against the Miners this Saturday, The Daily Texan spoke with Michael Cuviello, sports editor of UTEP’s The Prospector.
The Daily Texan: UTEP picked up its first win of the season last weekend against Stephen F. Austin. What, in your opinion, were some of the keys to the victory?
Michael Cuviello: I think one of the major keys was actually (being) able to get a running game going with redshirt freshman Deion Hankins. We didn’t make a lot of mistakes, like there was one interception. Pretty accurate passing. We got all our receivers set up pretty well in the passing game. … We just had a consistent effort, but I think the key was getting the running game going with the amount of yards per carry that we were getting out of Deion Hankins.
DT: What can you tell me about left guard Bobby DeHaro? How do you think he’ll match up against the Texas defensive line?
MC: I think it will be a really good test for the guy. I mean, he’s done very good against Conference USA competition, but when you’re talking about University of Texas, you’re talking about four, five-star guys on the line. So I think it’s going to be a very tough assignment for him. I think he’ll put himself in well, but it would be fools gold to expect that he’s gonna be able to handle the front four of the Longhorns.
DT: How do (the players) feel about already having one game under their belts?
MC: Well, I think it was important to get the win. They struggled early on, but they took control of the game in the second half. So I think they’ve built up some confidence. They may be a little overconfident going into Texas, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case. But I think for a team that’s only won one game a year for the past couple years, starting off the year with a win, … they’ve got a good amount of confidence.
DT: What’s the COVID-19 situation looking like on UTEP’s end? Do you know how UTEP players and staff have been adapting?
MC: Early, when they started up practice, they did have some COVID positives. At this moment, they seem to be pretty clear of COVID. They did have one player that did not feel well last week, but it wasn’t COVID-related. So, I think they don’t feel too bad about the COVID situation, but I think they have to take extra precautions, so they’re somewhat not able to live the normal college life that most people live.
DT: To your knowledge, what is the attitude of players and coaches heading into this game? Are they excited to play Texas?
MC: They went to Texas Tech not too long ago, but going to Austin and playing in that stadium I think is one of the highlights for most of the players. The last time they went to Austin was in 2016, which was not a joyous journey, but nobody on this team was with that team. And just think less than four weeks ago, they were down to eight or nine games, so I think they’re pretty excited to go to play a Power Five team like Texas that is actually ranked.