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UTEP football: Is Garrett Simpson closing the QB race gap?

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Interesting start to the week as UTEP completed their first scrimmage of the fall on Tuesday with the defense showing out, and the QB race tightening.

Heading into and coming out of last weekend it appeared sophomore quarterback Mack Leftwich pretty much had the job in hand, but now after a strong scrimmage Tuesday from junior Garrett Simpson, is the competition for UTEP's starting quarterback back to even again?

Simpson went 6-for-12 passing with a team leading 107 yards and added a touchdown toss, while Leftwich went a pedestrian 4-11 passing for 106 yards, but did have a 65-yard TD strike to Aaron Jones and he also threw an interception.

"I thought Garrett Simpson had a good day," Sean Kugler said, "He had some good balls (thrown) out there."

Sources who were at practice tell us Simpson definitely won the day on Tuesday, after Leftwich won both Sunday and Monday's practice sessions.  Thus, throwing a competitive wrench it what appeared to be Leftwich pulling away on the depth chart.

"We'll go the film, we're going to evaluate this one hard," Kugler said, "This will probably be the first time that any movement on the depth chart happens at certain positions."

In total, UTEP's four quarterbacks went 15-for-36 for 339 yards and three total touchdowns on Tuesday.

UTEP's two freshmen signal callers Ryan Metz finished 3-for-5 for 81 yards and tossed a beauty of a 53-yard touchdown pass to Jaquan White.  True Freshman Kavika Johnson went 2-for-8 for 45 yards passing, and also added 22 yards rushing, scoring on an 8-yard QB draw.

Kugler has stated that stats will not define who will start at QB, but with yesterday's solid production from Simpson, the race for the QB spot maybe as tight as ever putting important stock into Sunday's scrimmage which will be the second of three scrimmages UTEP will have in the fall.

Junior wide out Jaquan White continues his strong progression from the spring into the fall with three receptions for 85 yards, and also scored on a 5-yard run via a reverse in a red-zone drill.  Sophomore Tyler Batson had one catch good for 46 yards, and Cole Freytag had his lone catch of the day go for 25 yards. 

Although the offense had their moments, all reports are that the defense pretty much won the day with some solid hits, and takeaways.

"There was great give and take on both sides of the ball," Sean Kugler said of the scrimmage. "Defense got some turnovers today, they got two fumbles and two interceptions. Offense won the two minute segment, so as a head coach your not looking for one side of the ball to dominate and it went back and forth.  But the main thing is there weren't a lot of pre-snap errors and there was a lot of physicality out there so I was pleased with the energy and effort"

Ishmael Harrison and Kelvin Fisher Jr. each recorded an interception, Jimmy Musgrave had four tackles, and Fisher Jr. also added a tackle-for-loss to his stat line.

Freshman linebacker Justen Tatum who is fighting for a spot on the depth chart as the fourth linebacker had a forced fumble that fellow freshman and defensive back Adrian Hynson recovered.  Sophomore defensive end Luke Elsner added a sack, and QB hurry in the workout.

The Miners are back in pads this morning, and will have their second two-a-day session tomorrow, after today there will be four practice sessions left in Ruidoso before the teams heads back after the scrimmage on Sunday.