"It was an embarrassing loss." UTEP coach Sean Kugler said. "I don't know how to put it any other way. We're a beat up team. I'm going to fight and do everything I can to try to fix this thing. I apologize to the Miner fans for our performance tonight and I'm responsible."
"So if you got any problems with that, point them at me, not the players."
Simply put, poor coaching never gave UTEP a chance to close the gap in the second half, and like a man, Sean Kugler took full blame.
"I'm not saying this as a company line." Kugler continued. "I'm at fault, I'll get it fixed, and if I don't, I'm a professional I know the consequences of that."
"I know the fans and the media they don't have the patience to do that, and I understand that, that's their job. My job is to fix the thing."
Questionable game management once UTEP got on the board in the fourth quarter, and a middle school style route running tree/passing game just isn't going to get it done going forward, and Kugler may have finally realized that truth.
As depleted as UTEP is, it's not a full excuse to explain why the UTEP offense has not evolved or been able to develop a consistent versatile passing game in two and a half seasons with suitable athletes who have proven they can stretch the field and make plays.
Numerous times UTSA had one of UTEP's best down field targets in Tyler Batson in one-on-one matchups, but instead Patrick Higgins repeatedly called four yard out routes that averaged 4.3 yards per pass attempt, even in the final minute of garbage time.
Not to take anything away from a very sound defensive performance by UTSA, but once again Patrick Higgins made it easy on an opposing defense with piss poor and bland passing play calls.
And oh yeah what the hell was that QB sweep that caused the safety???
So while the offensive coaching staff has to dig deep and find a way to move the football, the players also have some coming together to do according to coach Kugler.
"I just told the team in there, we're right where we were last year, whether they want to hear it or not. We're 2-3. We lost our first conference game in an embarrassing fashion. And they have two options. They either come together as a team and they fight, or they fracture and split up into small groups and [complain] and become losers. I will not allow that to happen. I am the head coach here, and I'm going to choose the latter." Kugler said.
Front six comes alive
Jimmy Musgrave, Alvin Jones, Roy Robertson-Harris, Sky Logan, and Nick Usher wreaked havoc on UTSA's offensive line.
"They couldn't handle the stunts we were doing." Defensive end Nick Usher said. "We were getting after the quarterback pretty well."
The Miners plied up a season high and Kugler era high of 11 tackles for losses, and sacked Blake Bogenschutz a violent five times.
The way the defense got after it, shades of 2014 came to mind, but it wasn't a complete defensive renaissance as UTSA did average 10.4 yards per completion.
UTSA averaged 2.9 yards per carry despite having an 100-yard rusher, stopping the run hasn't been the issue, getting to the quarterback has and hopefully confidence was instilled after Saturday's performance.
"As a defense we have to bring it together and keep playing like that. We have to come back as a team and do our thing. All we can do is regroup." Usher said.
Run game sputters, again.
Ryan Metz led UTEP in rushing yards again, and that's not a good thing.
UTEP got away from the usual downhill run game with only 12 carries from running backs and have averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in the past two games.
Darrin Laufasa had only one carry, and freshman Treyvon Hughes did not even play a single snap.
The lack of speed in the backfield is alarming, UTEP was unable to crack the edge on the UTSA defense, pretty much certifying that the UTEP offense is in a complete identity shamble.
Injuries continue to mount
Defensive starters and main contributors Kelvin Fisher Jr., Alvin Jones, and Ishmael Harrison all left Saturday's games with injuries.
No details of the injuries were disclosed, we'll find out more on Monday.
Darn rain delays
For the first time since 1982, UTEP fans in the Sun Bowl experienced a weather delay.
The first came at the 11:11 mark of the second quarter, which lasted just over 30 minutes.
Exactly eleven minutes of game time later, the teams were sent to the locker rooms with 11 seconds before halftime.
Both school officials, and coaches agreed to scrap the last 11 seconds left in the first half and go into halftime under a delay.
"We don't make excuses like that." Kugler said of the rain delay and if it played a factor. "We didn't play well. We didn't generate any offense. We give up two pick sixes and a safety. That was the telling story,"
"It was tough on me." UTSA head coach Larry Coker said. "I don't know if it was tough on the players or not but I think it was. The guys responded and they came back out and they warmed up and they played."
Two minute snow storm
The rain spoiled homecoming, but UTSA's haymaker was laid in the first five minutes of the second half that spoiled UTEP's chances of a win.
The safety at the 12:23 mark, followed up by a quick 4-play 78 yard drive capped of by a 20-yard touchdown run by Jarveon Williams, then the icing of the cake came on the 40-yard pick six by Michael Egwaugu at the 10:06 that mark pretty much put this one away.
"Big turnaround." Kugler said of the early second half swing. "I thought our guys were energized, and they were focused in the locker room coming out. It snowballed on us."
Early in the game, UTEP held the UTSA offense scoreless on their first four possession, but were stuffed on three consecutive three and outs, an interception and punt on their first five offensive possessions.
The inability to cash in on the early first quarter defensive stops came back to haunt the Miners in the two minute segment that opened the second half.
DB Adrian Hynson tallied his first collegiate sack, a loss of eight yards, during the first quarter.
The UTEP defense allowed zero first quarter points against UTSA, the first time doing so in 2015. The Miners had allowed 47 first quarter points prior to tonight's game.
Lightning delayed the game tonight, the first lightning delay for UTEP since Sept. 29, 2012 at East Carolina. The Miners were also in a lightening delay on Sept. 20, 2009 in Las Cruces - a three-hour delay.
LB Alvin Jones tallied 3.0 sacks on the night, a career high. His previous high was 1.5 at NM State on Sept. 19. Jones recorded the most sacks in a single game since Jeremy Castillo registered 3.0 at Alabama during the 2001 season.
DL Sky Logan tallied his second career sack (10-yard loss) during the second quarter. Logan recorded a sack last week against UIW.
QB Ryan Metz threw a touchdown pass, a 25-yard pass to Jaquan White, during the fourth quarter. Metz has thrown a touchdown pass in three consecutive games, dating back to Sept. 19 at NM State.
DL Nick Usher recovered a fumble during the fourth quarter, the first of his career at UTEP.
UTEP tallied five sacks, the most during a single game in 2015. The Miners recorded two sacks the first three weeks of the season and four last week versus UIW.
WR Tyler Batson recorded a 41-yard reception during the fourth quarter, the longest catch of his career. WR Jaquan White set career high in yards (77) on six receptions, including a 25-yard touchdown reception.
LB Jimmy Musgrave registered a career-high 12 tackles tonight. His previous high was 10 versus North Texas (11/15/14).
TE Hayden Plinke registered a career-high seven receptions. He tallied 43 yards on the night.
The Miners tallied 11 tackles for loss, the most since posting 11 against LA Tech during the 2003 season and the most in the Sean Kugler era.