The UTEP football team will have the first of 14 spring practices on Tuesday (March 31) at 3:30 p.m. at Glory Field.
The Miners will continue drills on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. leading up to the annual Spring Game on Saturday, May 2.
All practices are free and open to the public.
UTEP returns 55 letterwinners - including 16 starters - from last year's team that recovered from an 0-3 start to finish 5-7 and a win shy of bowl eligibility. UTEP was 4-4 in Conference USA with two losses by five points. The Miners fell 49-44 to Rice and had a 19-point lead at Houston late in the third quarter before the Cougars rallied for a 42-37 victory.
UTEP faced one of the most demanding schedules in school history last year, squaring off with seven teams that ended the season in bowls (Buffalo, Texas, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Rice, Houston, East Carolina). An eighth opponent, Louisiana-Lafayette, was bowl-eligible. The Miners will take on seven '08 bowl teams once again this fall, including hosting Buffalo (Sept. 5), Kansas (Sept. 12), Houston (Oct. 3) and Tulsa (Oct. 21).
UTEP ended 2008 tied for 10th in the NCAA in turnover margin (1.00), 14th in passing offense (284.2 ypg), 24th in passing efficiency (142.56), 25th in scoring offense (32.9 ppg) and 31st in total offense (406.5 ypg). The Miners return their starting quarterback (Trevor Vittatoe) and top two receivers (Kris Adams and Jeff Moturi) from that explosive offense. Vittatoe set a school record last season by throwing 33 touchdown passes, while Adams and Moturi combined to make 23 touchdown catches.
The defense has seven returning starters and is expected to benefit from the return of Braxton Amy, who led the team in tackles in 2007 (112) before missing the entire '08 campaign with a torn ACL.
The following Miner players are out for spring ball due to injury - TE Geoff Amato, DB Antwon Blake, RB Donald Buckram, TE Elijah Goldtrap, LB Landon Goodwell, LB Jamie Irving, DL Bernard Obi, OL Cameron Raschke and QB/WR James Thomas II. Players who will be limited in the spring after undergoing surgeries include DB Braxton Amy, DB Anthony Morrow and LB Eric Reynolds.
Probably the most significant position change of the spring is the shifting of quarterback Jeremy Springer to linebacker. The 6-3, 220-pound sophomore was utilized as the up back in punt formation last season.
2009 UTEP Spring Practice Schedule
Tuesday, March 31 - 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 2 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 4 - 9 a.m.
Tuesday, April 7 - 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 9 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 11 - 9 a.m.
Tuesday, April 14 - 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 16 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 18 - 9 a.m.
Tuesday, April 21 - 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 23 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 25 - 9 a.m.
Tuesday, April 28 - 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 30 - 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 2 - Spring Game, TBA
All times Mountain
Practices at Glory Field and the Sun Bowl
Spring Game at the Sun Bowl