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Monday Lunch With Kugler

One final edition of Monday Lunch With Kugler for the 2015 season.

As usual, Kugler opens up with his takes on Saturday's loss

"That was a difficult loss to bear. My heart went out to players after that game. They fought as hard as I've ever seen a team fight as undermanned as a team was against a talented team."

"They did everything that had to do to win that game, and unfortunately we didn't win the game. But that's football, and my hat goes off to our team."

"They showed a lot of heart, and as a head coach that's all I care about. I know you're judged on wins and losses, and the end result. But I judge my team on character and heart and couldn't have been more proud of our team after the team game."

Then he breaks down both sides of the ball

"On offense, we talked about no turnovers at home. The year before we had five against these guys and the game turned out differently because of it."

"We did throw one interception, which essentially ended up being a pooch punt. We took a shot towards the side end zone. It was a long situation. They intercepted it inside the 10-yard line; it really wasn't a huge factor."

"We talked about catching the catchable. We did have three drops. Warren Redix had one, Tyler Batson had one that I think he could've continued a big play on a slant that would've been contested, but had to come down with that. Cedrick had a tough one that was a high ball, but still thought it was catchable."

"Did not accomplish our goal of 50 percent on third down and red zone touchdowns. Again, the game came down to a field goal and we can't be in that position. We have got to score seven (points) in that situation."

"Defensively, we talked about getting multiple hats with proper leverage to no. 28 and no. 6, who was also an excellent runner as a quarterback."

We held Dixon to 39 yards, a 2.1-yard average and really put some outstanding hits on him."

"Jimmy Musgrave put some hits on him; Alvin Jones put some hits on him and I really think that affected him. (Jeff) Driskel did have some good quarterback reads and had a seven-yard average."

"But again, we held him to 42 yards (rushing). Overall, production wise, it gained 119 yards (rushing) for an offense that's a very explosive rushing offense. That was Dixon's average alone. So I thought we did a good job stopping the run."

"Driskel, I think is a big, strong quarterback and we didn't get too many hits on him. We only had two quarterback hits and no sacks. But we did have some good pressure on him and caused him to move."

"Where I really thought we did a good job, going into the game we were scared of their receivers, and I thought it was the best group we faced all year."

"But no. 1 did come through for them with a couple big plays. In particular at the end of half, which is kind of disheartening, because it's the third in four weeks that we've allowed a touchdown at end of the half. And those things change momentum in that game."

"We talked about maintaining our gap and staying in our zones, doing our jobs. And the run game, again, we held them to their lowest chunk total of the year and UTEP's best chunk total of the year."

Kugler was able to come away with lots of positives despite a loss

"Some things that I thought were some real positives. We felt we had to control the football against that team, a very explosive offense."

"That team was averaging 40 points a game. We had our best time of possession output of the year playing with two true freshmen quarterback and a true freshman tailback and a banged up line. We controlled the ball for 37:49 seconds."

"Going into the game we wanted to keep up with these guys in chunk plays. We actually had more that they had. We had seven chunk plays all-around - four chunk runs, three passes and LA Tech had six. We accomplished that goal."

"We wanted to be in manageable third downs and did that. We only had four negative plays against a d-line that has been disruptive all year. We held the d-line that had been disruptive in tackles for loss and sacks to no sacks."

Alvin Jones has been playing at high level all season with a torn labrum

"Alvin Jones, every week, is playing with torn labrum in his shoulder and will have that fixed after the year. It doesn't affect him and he's co-captain of the week. He had a safety, his third of the year. I don't think I've ever seen a linebacker have three safeties. He had 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one quarterback hit. This guy is all over the field."

Kugler talked about Jay Mattox, and the text he sent him after the game

"I really felt for (Jay) Mattox. I love Jay and he's one of our most consistent and most competitive players on our team."

"I think he probably compensated for the wind on that last kick. And he missed the kick. I texted him right after the game and said we're going right back to you and you'll bang a game-winner this week."

"I've lost no confidence and faith in him; it just happened. I feel bad for him, but he's certainly not the reason why we lost the game. It came down to that play but there were a hundred plays within that game that could've changed the outcome of the game. I'll certainly never pin it on one play."

Switching gears to North Texas

"Talking about our upcoming opponent, North Texas. They're probably a lot like us."

"They're a wounded animal; but wounded animals are dangerous. They have a 1-10 record and their coach, who I respect, was fired after the fifth game. That puts everyone in tough position with the coaching staff and the players."

"There's a lot of mixed emotions and have been through that situation; it's not fun. I think they'll be playing for their job. When you're in that situation, anything will go."

"We can expect anything in that game. We can expect trick plays and for them to pull out all the stops to win."

"Offensively, probably middle to lower of the pack as far statistical categories."

"But the one thing they always try to do in North Texas football is try to establish the run. They run the ball extremely well and average 161 yards per game with a 4.4 average per carry"

"They have a very capable running back in no. 26, (Jeffery) Wilson. He's got 774 yard and averages 5.5 per carry. They have physical cats up front that are guys who have been playing for a while."

"Their center is 6-foot-3, 320 pounds in no. 50, and their right guard is 6-4, 300."

"No. 9, who I felt was their best player last year, I don't feel any differently this year. Carlos Harris, their receiver, is their go-to guy. He played with some different quarterbacks, but he still has seven touchdowns this year and a 12.2 average. He's been a steady player for them the last three years."

"They have a little explosive receiver that also returns kicks for them, (Darvin) Kidsy. He's got two touchdowns receiving, he's got one touchdown throwing and they'll use him in some gadget-type situations. Then they have a solid tight end in Marcus Smith."

"I think they've been playing better on offense since they made this switch to DaMarcus Smith at quarterback. He's a junior college transfer, and a big kid. He's 6-1, 220 and solidly built. This guy has 982 yards passing with eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He's got a long 54-yard run and averaging 4.5 yards running the ball. He's another athletic quarterback that can pull the ball and be dangerous in that aspect."

"Defensively, it's statistically not great as far as numbers."

"They've been struggling in the running game, third downs and red zone touchdowns."

"But they do have some solid football players. They run a quarter scheme and in that scheme the safeties have to be your leading tackler and most explosive tacklers. And that's the case with them."

Their strong safety leads the team in tackles with 98. Their free safety is second on the team in tackles with 96.

"They do have a disruptive defensive end that can create some havoc in no. 30, (Jarrian) Roberts.  He leads their team in tackles for loss, sacks and quarterback hits; he's got 10-career sacks."

They have an outside linebacker, (Fred) Scott that has made a lot of plays for them. Then they have a cornerback that has 10-career interceptions and leads the team in interceptions this year with two."

"So they have capable players. It is their senior day and we're anticipating a weather game. It's probably going to be a high of 45 with rain. So both teams have to protect the football and run the football."

Kugler gave a quick injury update to four players

"I'm worried about getting our team healthy for this game. We'll probably take a different approach this week to practice to make sure we do that."

"You saw (Hayden) Plinke on crutches, as he broke his foot; you saw Jerome Daniels on crutches and he broke his foot. Kelvin Fisher Jr. will be down to the wire, as he's got a hip pointer. Jimmy Musgrave will be down to the wire, as he got dinged up in this game. He thought I was Uncle Bob at the end of the game."

To keep the team healthy, contact will be minimal this week in practice

"I do think you need to have some contact. You do need to work on your fundamentals. But I'm certainly going to look into it."

But I'm going to evaluate that after the season. To be honest with you, from a head coaching stand point, I probably did too much contact during training camp."

"Spring ball is where I need to evaluate because it is a long haul. These kids are in football year around. With summer conditions and all of that is different than what it used to be. I don't know if you can grind them all the time. If I think it will help keep our team healthy, I'll change."

Kugler then talks about TK Powell and the running game

"He's got some special run skills; that's why we pulled his redshirt, hated doing that but had to."

"He's got a unique skill set that adheres to certain things. We're going to have to do more of that adhere to what he does."

Do things that Darrin Laufasa and hopefully a healthy Jeremiah Laufasa can do. He's been banged up. We have to generate whatever we can run-game wise."

We've even used quarterbacks even though we're down to two. You'll see a mix of all the backs again."

"I'm hoping to get Treyvon (Hughes) back this week. I think he can give us something as well. And then you'll see a mix of Kavika and Metz."

To finish up, he explains this week's quarterback situation

"Probably similar to what we did against LA Tech, and probably mix those guys in. Again they both do different things well. But they both will need to run the base offense - which they did (against LA Tech). I don't just view Kavika as wildcat quarterback, though he runs that package very well, but he does other things well. Ryan does certain things well. And we need to put them in positions where they're not overloaded. We can't forget those are 18-year old true freshman. Ryan is a little older because he greyshirted, but they're young kids."