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UTEP football: Scout team makes debut

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UTEP went into full preparation mode for Arkansas in Thursday's practice.

The green jerseys on the Glory Road practice field signaled a couple of things, but the main one is game-day is near.

For the first time UTEP had some on field work preparing against Arkansas' defensive and offensive looks, and appeared to get a lot of work done.

"Heavy special teams work done today, we got a two minute drill in there." Head Coach Sean Kugler said. "We broke up for the scout teams for the first time.  Started implementing some base stuff for Arkansas, that will continue."

Notable members of the newly implemented scout team was freshman quarterback Hunter McEachern who will be the scout team QB this year.  Running back TK Powell, tight end Augie Touris, fullback Brad Zaffram, defensive back Jerell Brown and wide receiver Elliott Oldham were also working with the scout team.

Most of UTEP's freshman lineman who are not gray-shirting were also with the scout team.

Interesting situation to keep an eye on is Oldham.  He was recovering from injury, and was thought to be on the depth chart, but being on scout team could mean a red-shirt if he is not fully recovered or ready for this season.

Special teams work

UTEP worked on kickoff, kickoff return, as well as punt and punt return in the heavy specials teams work periods.

Jay Mattox displayed a stronger leg on kickoffs, and the bodies on the coverage and return teams are as deep as they have been under Sean Kugler.

Freshman Nik Needham was working as the main punt returner, and of course Autrey Golden on kickoffs.

UTEP will have an exclusive special teams scrimmage tomorrow.

NFL scouts roaming the sidelines

Two scouts were on hand for Thursday's practice.

A rep from the Carolina Panthers, and the Oakland Raiders were looking at both sides of the ball throughout practice.

UTEP's top NFL prospects as of today are Autrey Golden, Roy Robertson-Harris, Eric Lee, Aaron Jones, and Jimmy Musgrave.

Quarterback update

Mack Leftwich took all the first team reps, while Garrett Simpson rehabbed his injured ankle with the training staff.

Simpson is expected back next week.

Ryan Metz took a good chunk of second team reps when the offense was not going against the scout team during a quick team period.

Leftwich took all the snaps once UTEP went into scout team work, and in a two minute drill to end practice against the first team defense.

Kavika Johnson worked mainly out of the Wild Miner package.

Kugler radio show takeaways

Sean Kugler held his first radio show of the season last night with Jon Tiecher.

The big takeaway was Kugler saying the offense will take more shots down field, and won't be as conservative due to the skill position depth UTEP now has.

Offensive coordinator Patrick Higgins basically said the gloves are off on Aaron Jones, as he will see his touches increase along with Autrey Golden.

Kugler also explained what a typical day is like for the student-athletes.

Best quotes from Kugler: "we take no stars and turn them into five stars", "Puppies bite" when talking about UTEP's young secondary.