Sean Kugler spoke to the media this afternoon over a beautifully designed, Papa John's catered, and buffet styled luncheon.
UTEP coming off its 31-24 road win at New Mexico, will go up against a different beast in the the big home game of the season with Texas Tech as Sun Bowl After Dark Football will be in full effect with a 9:00 PM local start Saturday night.
Here are the highlights/notes from his media luncheon:
***Kugler opened up by praising the little things that went right for the big win: ball security, penalties, and turnover margin.
***He also praised the young offensive line whose stellar play cured his pregame anxiety, No sacks, no penalties, and 300 yards rushing were his praises.
***Kugler said Jameill Showers managed the game well, only made one bad decision, and kept the defense thinking with his running ability.
***Gave credit to his seniors, and in particular Jarrad Shaw who had the 48 yard touchdown reception, with a team leading three catches.
***Last season against New Mexico, UTEP had only five plays on defense that yielded two yards or less, this year 20 plays were held to only two yards or less with nine tackles for loss.
***Kugler said he thought tackling, and defensive effort was improved, noted that he was pleased with linebackers making plays. We all know how absent linebacker production was last year, says with that improvement they are "headed in the right direction".
***Says they have made a huge emphasis on special teams improvement, and physicality, also threw in a Top Gun reference naming a Top Gun guy of the week for special teams work, this week: LaQuintus Dowell.
***UTEP held UNM to an average start at the 22 yard line, Kugler talked last week of how important it was to keep Lobos' return specialist Carlos Wiggins in check in the return game. Special teams coverage was a huge eye opener for me as UTEP was very solid there on Saturday.
***Talked about how clean his team played, and the improved focus the team played with by doing those little things right. He said it starts in the meeting rooms with eye contact, taking notes, and enjoying the grind, which tells me guys are buying in and work is getting done.
*** "Anybody on that's on that roster (travel), we trust to go in the game and get the job done"-Kugler....nuff said....
***Few bumps and bruises health wise but no major injuries to start the week.
***Says running backs usually have a pitch count, and will try to stick with it throughout the year, wants the ball in Aaron Jones' hands running and catching wise.
***Kugler says most of Texas Tech's offensive personnel is back from last year.
***Talked highly about Tech's wide receiver Bradley Marquez stat attack last week, appears he will be a huge part of the defensive game plan.
***Notes the preparation change from the triple option last week, to spread this week will be hard.
***Pointed out some impact returners for Tech on defense, notes their secondary is young, will UTEP attack that?
***Kugler hopes the Sun Bowl crowd is rowdy, longer tailgate hours should help.
***Said the UNM win was huge in bringing a higher energy for this week.
***Called quarterback Davis Webb the future of Texas Tech's program and that Tech is loaded at the skill position, also said Webb has gained more muscle over the off-season
***UTEP will face multiple fronts, and see a lot of man coverage from Tech's defense, says Tech also likes to use multiple fronts on offense as well.
***Will practice for the faster than fast offensive tempo UTEP will face Saturday by throwing in two plays in the defensive huddle, will work a lot on substitutions in practice this week, Kugler expects to play a lot of guys with the depth Tech has. Of note: Central Arkansas and Texas Tech combined for 101 plays in the first half.
***Still says UTEP Is not where they need to be depth wise at a few positions.
Depth chart notes:
For the first time in the regular season David Hamm is listed as the fifth running back.
Da'Carlos Renfro makes his first appearance of the season as a third corner.
Defensive line also has some new names that haven't been there before this year: Mike Sota, Vince Czerniewski, and Luke Elsner.