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UTEP 24 Rice 21: Thoughts From The Stands

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Our coach in the stands UTEPDefense gives his thoughts on UTEP's win.

  • It was a tough 6 p.m. week night start time for the fans, which also competed against senior night for every high school football game in the city.  So the crowd was less than desired, but despite being a smaller crowd, the Sun Bowl was rocking during the final couple of drives.  Credit to the fans that were there.
  • Mack Leftwich missed some throws down field, but he had another overall effective game without turning the ball over.  Compared to the start of the season, it appears that Leftwich is continuing to gain the confidence of both his teammates and the fans as the season goes on.
  • The UTEP defense did a very good job against Rice's rushing offense.  Rice was held to only 96 total rushing yards.  I really feel that the UTEP defense began improving this season after Sophomore defensive tackle Sky Logan was inserted into the starting lineup and Sophomore linebacker Alvin Jones became fully healthy.  These two sophomores now have exactly half of all of our sacks this season.
  • How effective was the UTEP defense?  Rice only scored 21 points, with seven coming in the second half.   And on two of those three touchdown drives, Rice had to convert and extremely long 3rd-and-17 and a 3rd-and-20 just to keep each of those drives going.
  • Derek Elmendorff spent the majority of the game sitting by himself on the UTEP bench.  I am not sure if he was sick, injured, or just in the dog house.  In his place, Junior Anthony Kyles made his first start and played very well, despite a terrible Illegal man down field call that went against him.
  • Autrey Golden spent his first few years at UTEP as a running back.  He was moved to wide receiver and has had his struggles with drops.  Unfortunately, he had some more drops during this game as well.  With us now only having only Laufasa and Hughes at running back, it makes you wonder if there would be a benefit to moving Golden back to his natural running back position at least for a couple of carries?
  • Warren Redix is a freshman who appears to be getting better in every game that he plays.  He was supposed to red-shirt this year (after Grayshirting last year), yet he was forced into playing now and he has turned out to be one of the most versatile players on our team.  He started as a wide receiver, but he now he also gets carries at running back.  Then after Daniel Siller dropped two punts, it was the freshman Redix who the coaching staff turned to go out there and field the next punt.
  • On the two dropped punts, the ball was spinning sideways as it fell from the sky.  Since the yardage on the kicks was good, I wonder if the Rice punter is using a technique to deliberately make his punts spin sideways, thus making them harder to catch.  It is a great idea and skill if it was done deliberately.
  • Speaking of punt returns;  for the first home game this season, Terry Juniel was not on crutches.  He was walking under his own power with no noticeable limp, so this was encouraging progress towards his recovery.
  • This game perfectly fit the mold of how Sean Kugler has won late season football games.  UTEP held it's opponent to 21 points or less, controlled the clock, and had a long drive late in the game to give his team control.  Over the past 1 1/2 years, this formula has worked for six late season victories over:  UTSA, Middle Tennessee, So. Miss., UNT, FAU, and now Rice.  As a comparison, Mike Price's style of football only won 13 late season games after Oct. 24 during his nine years here.  Sean Kugler has now already won seven games after Oct. 24 during only 2 1/2 years (and he still has 3 games remaining this year).  When the UTEP offense went out last night in a tied game, with only 8 minutes remaining, I felt good knowing that Sean Kugler football was built for that exact situation and what happened? A game winning, time consuming, run it down your throat drive that used all of Rice's time-outs and used up almost the entire clock. Sean Kugler seems to have the perfect style for fixing our late season November football problems and the results over the past 1 and 1/2 years appear to be speaking for themselves.