ACU happy to be playing football


When Abilene Christian ventures into the Sun Bowl to take on UTEP on Saturday, the game will be one of the more unique Division I games ever played, which is apt for one of the most unique years in college sports.

The Wildcats are kicking off their fourth season under coach Adam Dorrel and its eighth in the Division I FCS, and will be playing their first game of the year against a UTEP team playing its third.

Adam Dorrel, who won three Division II championships at Northwest Missouri State in the middle of the last decade, is in his fourth year at Abilene Christian (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/Abilene Christian athletics)

“I’ve never been involved in something like that,” Dorrel said.

“I don’t know if that’s ever happened,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said.

More: Dawn re-emerges for his senior year

What that amounts to is another unusual challenge for Abilene Christian and UTEP in a season defined by unusual challenges that had to be surmounted just to get on the field in 2020.

For the Miners, the challenge in this one is putting together a scouting report based on last year’s 5-7 Wildcat team. For Abilene Christian, which is one of 13 FCS schools that put together a renegade schedule in a fall where the FCS is nominally shut down, there are a myriad of challenges.

“The thing we’ve addressed internally is game conditioning, game speed, you can only simulate that so much,” Dorrel said. “Obviously UTEP has a huge advantage over us there.

“Game conditioning, you can run to the football, you can condition, you can do all that, but game conditioning is different when you have to be violent with your hands, then have to turn around and play a snap again. We’ve done things internally to address that.

“We’re going to play a lot of guys, we’re going to be moving a lot of guys in and out. The emphasis is to stay fresh, play as hard as you can when you’re in there in bursts.

More: UTEP secondary seeks better results against Abilene Christian

“There’s no way we can have kids go out there and play 65, 70, 80 snaps and think that individual is going to play well and they’d be potentially opened up to injuries. I feel good about our plan.”

As to the decision to play, the team wanted to, the university wanted to accommodate them and made it happen.

“I’m very proud of our leadership, proud of (president) Dr. (Phil) Schubert and (athletic director) Allan Ward for allowing us to take steps, move forward and play,” Dorrel said. “Our team is very excited, obviously Saturday can’t come soon enough.”

He feels good about it because, like the third-year system at UTEP, Dorrel said he feels like he’s generating the depth he wants as he gets his program in place.

That even goes to quarterback, where Sema’J Davis, who played extensively last year in a running