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Monday Lunch With Kugler

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Sean Kugler always shoots straight, and continues to do that this week.

John Weast/Getty Images

With Sean Kugler you get 50% coaches speak, and 80% of what is going on, which is more than your average college football coach is willing to be honest about.

This week is no different, as Kugler talks about the current issues heading into FIU this weekend.

Kugler starts off by quickly summarizing last week's loss.

"As I mentioned after the game, very embarrassing loss for us. Offensively, I didn’t really feel that we played Miner football. My responsibility. I’ll make sure the necessary changes are made that we do."

Then he hammers on the offensive mistakes that were made against Texas-San Antonio.

"We had four turnovers offensively, two of those resulted in touchdowns. We also had a safety in the game. There's the story of the game."

"We only had 22 rushes, including quarterback runs. That's not the formula for us to win games."

"Offensively, we talked going into the game about having zero turnovers. As I mentioned, four interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, and a safety. Extremely poor production there."

"We talk about starting fast, we only had three first downs in the first half. That's not starting fast."

"We talked about staying ahead of the chains and our formula for that is no penalties, which I was pleased with. There were no penalties offensively in this game."

"We talked about having no negative plays. There were four tackles for losses for minus 10 yards. We didn't accomplish that. We talk about no sacks. We had two sacks in the game."

"We talked about no drops. Those are the things that put you behind the chains. We had five in the game, two by [Hayden] Plinke, one by Autrey [Golden] and one by Cole [Ford]."

"4.5 a rush is our MO. We have not been running the ball effectively the last two games, and we need to come up with a formula to do that efficiently or we will struggle offensively. We only averaged 2.7 a rush."

"Our play average was slightly below four yards which is unacceptable. We were only 24 percent on third downs, 33 percent in the red zone. Time of possession was in their favor and overall we had six three and outs. I can read that a hundred times, that's as poor of offensive production as you'll ever see and we need to get that corrected quickly."

One of the main positive's from last week was the defense, and Kugler gives his take on the defensive performance.

"I really felt our defense played well enough to win. I think it was our best outing of the year."

"Our goal was to stuff the run. They averaged 2.9 yards a rush, but sacks are included in that and they did pop one quarterback run late in the game. #2 who I felt was an excellent running back did have a 4.8 average and 133 yards."

"We talk about starting fast defensively. I think they did an excellent job of that."

"We talked about having disruptive plays, and in my mind disruptive plays are hits on the quarterback, sacks and tackles for losses. I think we accomplished that. We had five sacks in the game, 11 tackles for losses which really is the most since we've been here, and three quarterback hits. We talked about forcing two turnovers."

"We only forced one. That was a high snap that really was a good effort play by Nick Usher, hitting the quarterback and then wrestling the ball from him. It put our offense in good field position which we did not take advantage of."

"In particular, I thought we did a good job on third downs. They were 27 percent."

"Of course nine points total doesn't reflect on the scoreboard because we're a team and it was 25. But only nine was given up by the defense and 50 percent red zone scores. So defensively, I really felt they played an excellent game across the board."

"I really feel since we have been here as a staff, aside from last year's UTSA game and the Southern Miss game, I really felt this was our third-best game that we have played defensively so that was encouraging moving forward."

One of the defensive MVP's from Saturday was Alvin Jones, but his injury last week leaves him questionable for this week.

"Alvin Jones in particular had an outstanding game. He had 10 tackles, three tackles for losses, three sacks and a quarterback hit and that was in two and a half quarters because Alvin does rotate in there some and then he was injured in the second half, he did not play the remainder of the game from that point on."

"His production the last three weeks has been on a record clip."

"Unfortunately for us he was injured in that game and his availability for this game remains to be seen."

Kugler talked about having faith in Ryan Metz as the starter

"As I mentioned after the game, I really feel we need to find an identity on offense. We can not be back there throwing it close to 50 times a game and not run the ball efficiently and think we're going to win games."

"That's not going to happen. I'm not going to switch quarterbacks. I know [Ryan] Metz had a tough game but I trust the young man."

"I mentioned, I will always go with the hot hand at quarterback but I'm not ever going to give up on somebody after one game."

"He had a tough night but he also did some good things out there. I admire his toughness and his competitiveness and his will. I think he's going to be just fine. We've got to help the young quarterback out."

Then Kugs breaks down FIU

"They're in the same situation as us record-wise. They are 2-3, 0-1 in Conference USA."

"They do not turn the ball over often on offense. Six turnovers and they have gotten six, so they are even play as far as turnovers are concerned."

"Time of possession has been in their favor. They're a ball control offense."

"Offensively, they are averaging 21.4 points per game. They try to establish the run, 3.8 yards per rush and 124 yards rushing [per game]."

"The quarterback is doing a nice job for them, 232 yards passing a game. They have been good on third downs, 48 percent which is excellent, and they have been good at red zone touchdowns, 69 percent. They have only given up six sacks, which is great protection, and as I mentioned they don't turn the ball over."

On FIU's offensive personnel

"They have got some young tools there. It all starts with their quarterback."

"He is doing a nice job for them, 10 touchdowns, only two interceptions, very close to 65 percent completion percentage. He is managing the game well for them and he's athletic.  Again, another mobile QB that we're going to have to contain."

"I think Garner is a nice running back. He is built stocky, 5-10, 192. He has got 315 yards rushing, 3.6 average, three touchdowns. He is averaging 61 yards a game for them."

"They've got two really good tight ends. We see a lot of spread teams that don't utilize tight ends."

"We saw a great tight end last week. This team has got two. Griner, 6-4, 235, he is averaging 10.3 a catch and two touchdowns. Smith was an All-Conference player last year and was a freshman All-Conference player two years ago."

"They've got two excellent pass receiving tight ends. And then they've got a big-time receiver in Owens. He's a sophomore. He leads their team in receptions. He's got five touchdowns. He can take it to the house and he's got juice, he's got a long of 75."

"They have got weapons on offense and they do a very nice job with an athletic offensive line."

Kugler then touches on FIU's strength, their defense.

"The strength of their team is their defense. "They base out of a 4-3 scheme and their linebackers have been very productive."

"This is an extremely stout defense. It all starts with their two defensive ends. Two excellent players, Perine and Wakefield. Perine has four sacks, six and a half tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. The other defensive end has two sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Those are all off of sacks."

"So these guys disrupt the edge. They play in the other team's backfield."

"They've got one of the best secondary players in our conference. He was two-time All-Conference, Leonard the cornerback. He is third on the team in tackles, he is also their #1 punt returner and their #1 kick returner, he is the best player on the team athletic-wise and he is kind of like Autrey Golden. He holds all of their records as far as returns at FIU."

"They have been disruptive. Last week they had three sacks and seven tackles for losses versus UMass and they've got four different players with interceptions. They are only giving up 23 points a game."

"They are very good at stopping the run, only 3.6 yards per carry. They have been very good on third downs, opponents have only been having a 36 percent success rate, and they have been very good in the red zone. Teams have only had a 50 percent, 8-out-of-16, success rate in the red zone."

"They've got nine sacks, 30 tackles for losses. So they are averaging six tackles for losses a game. They are an athletic, penetrating 4-3 defense and they cause disruption. And they have gotten four turnovers."

Kugler faces the questions about the changes he is looking at on offense

"I want to get back to establishing the run because if you can't run the football your play actions are dead and if you're throwing it 50 times a game, you kind of saw the result and some of the negatives that can occur when you do that.  Our hand has been forced doing some one-back stuff because of the absence of Darrin Laufasa at fullback."

"We've got to get guys in position to make plays, in particular guys like Autrey Golden. We've got to get the ball in his hands."

"We've got to get the ball in the running backs hands and utilize the runs that they do best. And we've got to do a better job of springing holes for them up front."

"We've got to challenge the offensive line because I do think we've got a very strong offensive line. We've got to be better."

"Again, I am not blaming anything on Ryan Metz. In fact I blame myself for that because we've got to do a better job protecting that young man and putting him in the best position to make plays."

The bigger question is how creative UTEP will have to be now a days.

"We've got to have creativity everywhere. We've got to generate first downs, however we need to do that. But we cannot be lacking in time of possession, we can not be turning the ball over. It's opposite of the formula we're trying to accomplish here. We want to be balanced, not tilted in the favor of 50/22. That's not the formula that's going to work here. Not as long as I'm the head coach. We have to fix that and that's on me."

Kugler on whether its scheme or personnel that has to change on offense

"It's both. Again, utilizing the players that can make plays ... I understand that we're limited as far as guys that can do that, but the ones that do, I think there are guys that can make plays and do things well. We've got to utilize those type things. Schematically, throwing the ball 50 times a game and running it 22 doesn't work for us. That will never happen again as long as I'm the head coach here."

Treyvon Hughes has been absent in the past two games, Kugler touches on his freshman running back.

"I want to get that young man going. I think he's got talent. That will be a part of trying to fix some things. I do view him as a very talented young back and we've got to get him going a little bit, give him opportunities."

At noon start in Miami means a 10 a.m. start, but Kugler isn't worried about the time difference, and early start.

"Fortunately we practice in the mornings. It won't be unusual for us."

"These guys get up every day at 5:00. We are here meeting at 6. They practice at 8. So even though it's a 10:00 kickoff for us, our kids are used to working at that time."

"Playing a day game in the heat, we're going to have to do a really good job this week of hammering home hydration. It's a cooler week here for us but it's going to be warm when we play down there."

"We're going to have to hydrate. I'm going to kind of ease off the pads a little bit this week because we are so banged up, to the point where I'm not going to do that."

Then Kugler finishes by explaining the injury bug that has been a theme this season.

"We've got to get healed up. Again, that's on me."

"The rash of injuries, I will say this, I have been on many teams and I've gone through it. Doing the pointing game and the blame game, that doesn't work with me man."

"I have been on teams where if there's a bunch of injuries they fire the trainer or fire the strength coach. That's BS man."

"Injuries can happen at any time and any game. If anybody, I've got to look at myself and how we conduct camp, we probably did a little too much banging."

"We went a lot of live periods in camp and that equates to getting worn down a little bit."

"If anybody is to blame on that, that's me. I've got to evaluate and do a better job of that going forward. But before articles are written about who's to blame for all these injuries, that's BS man. Injuries happen and I don't buy into that stuff."