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Monday Lunch With Kugler

After the biggest win in the Kugler era, the always fired up head coach talks about the 24 hour rule and getting ready for Southern Miss. in the Sun Bowl Saturday night.


Last Saturday's win in the Alamodome pushed UTEP past the respectability to point into a possible conference contender.

Like losses, UTEP uses the 24 hour rule no matter the result and is already prepping for an athletic, very improved Southern Miss. squad this week.

Here are my takeaways from Kugler's weekly media luncheon.

***Kugler opens up by saying he is proud of the energy the team opened with at UTSA, and the fact that the team was rooting for each other with high energy after a great week of practice heading into the game.

***He said one of the goals going into the game was zero turnovers, turnover margin is now at plus five for the season.

***Kugler said he told the team that the staff isn't big on stats, but the turnover margin will dictate wins and losses.

***He mentions Jameill Showers' efficient play, and his ability to keep plays alive with his legs, also his great decision making in the run/pass read option plays.

***Seven different players caught balls, and UTEP recorded its highest per catch average this season at 15.9 yards per catch against UTSA.

***Coach was pleased with the way the offense was able to steal some possessions from UTSA with time of possession, and making third downs manageable.

***Kugler said the seven minute drive to end the game showed the will power of the team in wanting to win.

***Defensive performance was "very energizing for our team".

***Another goal was to rattle Austin Robinson, three sacks, four quarterback hits, and to make it a third and long game for UTSA were goals that UTEP achieved.

*** "Defense was on point in stopping the run game".

***The defense is now at 31% on third downs this year, Kugler praises the defense for their improvement on third downs from the start of the season compared to last year.

***Talks about the forced turnovers by Nick Gathrite, and Jimmy Musgrave, two turnovers was a goal going into the game.

***Kugler says UTSA ran every type of run in the first half against the defense.

***He also says switching to Jay Mattox's rugby style punts was a "big decision" on the part of the coaching staff, but also notes "a change was needed".

***Kugler talks about "bouncing back" from a big win just like a big loss, wants the same mentality from the LA Tech loss to return when practice starts back up tomorrow.

***Coach opens the Southern Miss. talk by saying he thinks they are the most talented team athletically in the conference.

***Mentions their tough schedule and road trips to Alabama, and Mississippi State.

*** "Lot of athletes on both sides of the ball"

***Starting quarterback Nick Mullens was injured against North Texas on the seventh play of the game, but mentions backup Cole Weeks stepping in and throwing for 338 yards.

***Staff will monitor the progress of the injury and will prepare for two quarterbacks again this week, though notes the same offensive system was used when Weeks spelled Mullens.

***Says Southern Miss. uses a running back by committee, their depth chart includes three guys with "or's" at running back.

***Talks very highly of Southern Miss' receivers, notes their size, and physicality at receiver.

***Likens slot receiver Casey Martin to a Wes Welker type as he also returns kicks.

*** "Very athletic defensive lineman"

***Describes Southern Miss. safety Jacorius Cotton as a physical safety who plays in the box most of the time.

***Southern Miss. has 14 forced turnovers, and gave up a lot of rush yards against Alabama and Mississippi State.

***The Golden Eagles use a kickoff return by committee personnel grouping.

***Southern Miss. uses a lot of four wide sets, and will throw it around a lot, they will also show some two running back sets.

***Also talks about with great emphasis on moving forward from the win and getting right to back work on the next game.

***Looking for the senior leaders to again help start another week of solid preparation.

***Talks about how the team had fun at practice during the bye week, says practice habits translate to on field success.

***Compliments the defensive staff for getting the guys to buy in and playing with the energy they have shown.

***Says defensive coordinator Scott Stoker is one of the most energetic and detail orientated coach he has been around.

***Kugler says the defense is excited about their performance as they "should be" .

***Says the biggest improvement from the start of camp is overall maturity through the ups and downs of the season.

*** "They're believing in each other"

***Jokes about not seeing a kicker more excited than Jay Mattox was, and was happy with the way the team responded on the sidelines when things were going right on Saturday. #ProudCoach

***Talks about implementing the run/pass reads in order to give the running backs chances at more touches in different spots.

*** "They key to a good team is stacking wins".

***Outside of Jeremiah Laufasa UTEP hasn't had any serious injuries this year, a few guys banged up but expects everyone to be available for the game.

***According to sources and not talked about by Kugler, Aaron Jones will not practice this week, but is not injured and will be a full go Saturday.