The UTEP Football team wrapped up day three of Camp Ruidoso on Saturday, and all reports out of the forest point to a good start with lots of competition and a few reports that can give us something to chew on.
El Paso Times beat writer Bret Bloomquist has been tweeting important updates throughout camp, which is where most of the far-away observations on my part come from, along with his very helpful, and informative recaps.
Here are a few random thoughts on what has been reported.
Defensive back depth is plentiful
Even with the tough, and painful loss of Devin Cockrell, Scott Stoker has plenty of depth to work with.
Laquintus Dowell, and Kelvin Fisher are solid starters, with plenty of experienced, and young pieces to move around and work with.
Both Trent Trammell and Traun Roberson have been seeing time at safety as an early camp experiment, and it's appearing to work.
The tandem would form a nice pass coverage package with them at safety given their ability to cover and could turn into a dangerous cover two-man safeties package back there as UTEP does go man a whole bunch.
True freshman Kalon Beverly is also seeing time with the second string.
This is huge IMO.
The kid is a P5 level talent, and according to Kugler had a strong summer of off-season workouts.
Beverly could be a star down the road of his career, but will keep seeing reps and playing time this year while he adapts to the FBS level.
This starting lineup for the secondary could be very talented, with plenty of pieces to work in for reserve, or package depth.
Practice ends with likely starting secondary: Dowell, Fisher, Smith at safety; Roberson and Harrison at corner. #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 6, 2015
Dowell got a year to learn the safety position last year, and now as a senior, the converted running back could be poised for a breakout year at safety with the high early reps he is getting.
The quarterback competition is Mack Leftwich's to lose
All reports indicate that Leftwich is seeing most of the first team reps, and just like spring, he usually gets the first reps when practice shifts to team sessions.
It's not a bad thing to see him separating himself, it could also say he too had a strong summer of work.
More indication of Leftwich starting to etch his name is Kavika Johnson, and Ryan Metz working a lot with the special teams.
True freshman Kavika Johnson working with punt cover team as up back. #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 6, 2015
Ryan Metz also with punt team. #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 6, 2015
Metz and Johnson on kick return team #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 8, 2015
Leftwich is a proven winner going back to his prep days, and appears to be doing everything right. A UTEP receiver was quoted in saying that Leftwich has earned his respect as a leader, which is huge, something Jameill Showers had, and is important in this offense.
I heard he threw two early interceptions in recent team period, but finished the practice strong. Good indication of how he has been coming along, but things tend to change once the pads come on.
Not much is being said of Simpson at this point, and is certainly something to keep an eye this coming week, I get this feeling Leftwich is pulling away.
Cole Freytag has started fast
One of the more important position battles this camp is at receiver, and El Paso's Cole Freytag has started off strong.
Cole Freytag has been an early playmaker at receiver. Made a number of touchdown catches in a practice and a half #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 7, 2015
UTEP is need of someone at receiver to perform just like this, and appears to be a very competitive spot on the depth chart. Freytag saw plenty of action last year, good to see a receiver we haven't really harped on get off to a strong start.
First play of team in three wide: Golden. White. Walker. #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 6, 2015
This starting core of receivers on the first day tells me the following:
***JUCO receiver Elloit Oldham is still learning along with Warren Redix.
***Jaquan White, and Donovan Walker's strong spring's has them in line to earn the most game reps so far.
***Autrey Golden is fully healthy.
It appears the main core as of right now is Golden, White, Walker, Freytag, and you can't forget about Tyler Batson.
Still plenty of more practice for someone else to jump in that mix.
This and that
A typical Kugler practice includes some fierce competition, while executing situation work when things turn to team session. And a little back and forth is usually a good thing from the practice's I've have seen with Kugler running the show.
After offense had a score in 2 min drill defense has taken over end of practice teamwork #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 7, 2015
Treyvon Hughes just fired up Kigler with a big collision with Kelvin Fisher #utepfootball— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) August 8, 2015
***Cedrick Lang got a lot of well deserved media play on the first day, but sort of admitted he is still a project when he said the first day of practice was his first time learning to block.
I think as the season goes along Lang could become a factor, but the main thing with Ced is how he reacts when the pads go on. He appears to be learning the system, and adapting to physical part of playing tight end, no doubt his athletic ability will allow it, but when will it become full circle for production?
The big test for Ced is putting that together in a full-speed, full contact situation.
***Not much talk about the offensive and defensive lines, where the Miners are very deep with a mixture of veteran, and young talent.
The shaping of a three-deep rotation is important in how good the defense can really be, and will probably be highlighted more once contact practices start.
Hope to make a trip up there on Sunday, stay tuned for more.