After taking a much needed week off, head coach Sean Kugler met with the media for his weekly briefing Monday.
The Miners face 25th ranked Kansas State Saturday morning, here are my takeaways from the presser.
***Kugler opens up by saying in the locker room there is a goal reminder to beat New Mexico and New Mexico State.
***Staff spent last week evaluating the good and bad from the first three games, the latter part of the week was spent recruiting. Says the same bye week schedule will happen after the next bye week hits in three weeks.
***Kugler notes the 6.1 per carry rushing average as a positive for the offense, also likes the run blocking he is getting from all the offensive position groups. Also notes the scoring production from the running game as another high point of the offense.
***Says Aaron Jones will have a hard time keeping up the pace he started the season with, though is pleased with his high production so far and is "running the ball as good as anyone in the country".
***He is pleased with the +5 turnover ratio from the offense, rating UTEP number one in the C-USA in that department at the moment.
***Hints at the key to early success is the minimal turnovers and penalties so far, something that the coaches emphasize everyday.
***Miners are number one in the C-USA in least amount of turnovers, penalties and sacks allowed.
***The 50 percent mark on third down conversions on offense is a team goal, the offense has also had 12 drives of 70 yards or more.
***Kugler wants the 5.6 yard per pass attempt to increase, "passing production has to get better".
***Difference on defense has been the turnovers, Miners have the most takeaways in the conference, 3 fumbles, 3 interceptions.
***Pleased with the third down defense, and the defense's improvement of making plays in the backfield, 17 tackles for loss compared to only five last year
***He also notes the increased linebacker production as improvements that standout, and says the missed assignment and missed tackles have been cut to more than half..
***Improvements on defense he wants to see are space tackling, defensive backs' eyes need to get turned around quicker, eliminate the big chunks of yards they are giving up against the pass.
***UTEP is averaging 42.1 net yards on punts.
***Mentions UTEP has missed two blocked punts in the red-zone, I've personally seen a handful more outside the red-zone UTEP will get one this year.
***Two big keys from an overall team standpoint that makes Kugler is that he is really pleased with the minimal turnovers and penalties.
***Kugler says the El Paso fans have been huge in the two home games, he also says Texas Tech and NMSU had big troubles with the crowd noise.
***Describes Kansas State as a disciplined, physical team that doesn't turn it over, and doesn't commit penalties, something Kugler himself is trying to building on here.
***Talks about how physical, efficient, and balanced Kansas State's offensive is in the red-zone, and on third downs.
***Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters is a dual threat who has a run/pass option at the line, I took it from Kugler that the offense pretty much runs through his hands.
***Receiver/Returner Tyler Lockett will give UTEP match-up problems, and will be keyed on, Lockett averages 19.1 yards per punt return.
***Defense held Auburn to the lowest offensive production from an Auburn team under Gus Malzahn, held Auburn to 55 yards rushing in the first half.
***Defensive line is physical, and active, talks about the multiple personnel production Kansas State brings from the linebackers.
***Talks about how good the Kansas State defense is on third down, and in the red-zone, "they got a great formula on defense".
***Kansas State will have a big special teams unit with linebacker, fullback types on coverage, and returns.
***Calls the game an "extreme challenge", Kansas State returns more than half of their starters from last year.
***Jeremiah Laufasa injured his knee, and will miss the rest of the season, a few guys banged up but otherwise the health of the team is good.
***Says the conference is very balanced and talented, said main goal is to get ready for conference play.
***If UTEP or his sons are not on playing, Kugler has no rooting interest while watching games on TV.
***Says the offensive line has been the most surprising position group from the 2-1 start.
***Calls Kansas State coach Bill Snyder one of the best coaches in the country, and says their style and formula is what UTEP hopes to be one day.
***Finishing blocks, and limiting negative plays/penalties that lose yards in key downs are keys to running the ball on Kansas State's defense, UTEP has to manage the game to keep downs manageable.
***Freshman running back David Hamm will step in and fill the role Jeremiah Laufasa played, will have to prove he can step in and execute the system before he gets more touches, but will get some carries.
***Says if not for a dropped pass, and missed field goals, Kansas State should have beat Auburn.
***The constant of rotation of the receivers will continue, it seems UTEP will use certain guys in certain specialist route running packages to fit what each receiver does best.
For more on Kansas State v UTEP, visit Kansas State's Bring On The Cats SB Nation Blog.