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Monday Lunch With Kugler

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Sean Kugler opens his weekly media meet talking about the Old Dominion loss

“It was a disappointing loss for our team against a very good Old Dominion team. My hat goes off to Bobby Wilder. I think he’s doing an outstanding job with that program. They’ll certainly be in a bowl this year representing Conference USA East.”

Kugs then breaks down the bad

“Some of the things we didn’t do in that game, we talked about starting fast. Our first series, there was a well-thrown ball by Ryan Metz on third down that ended up being a drop that fell into their defender’s hands.”

“And then on our second series, another well-thrown ball by Metz ends up being a fumble. We get behind the eight ball, we’re down 10-0 to start.”

“I didn’t feel we handled their ends and that worried me coming into the game. They had caused a lot of disruption, particularly #58 and #98.”

“Too many hits on Ryan Metz. He had two hits but there was five quarterback hits as well on top of that. We did have the two turnovers as I just mentioned. We had only seven chunk plays, that’s runs of 10 yards or more and passes of 20 yards or more. Our goal is 10, we only had seven, and that was the end result.”

The outcome was not in UTEP’s favor, but the effort was there

“I thought the kids did do a good job of fighting back. You really go through the end of the half, the offense scores to make it 10-7, comes out the second half and got a double score which really played in our favor. We were ahead in the game.”

Eddie Sinegal’s critical drop was explained by Kugler

“They score and then we’ve got an outstanding drive going down, ended up being a 4th and 3, there was 26 seconds left in the third quarter at that point and we ended up dropping that 4th and 3 conversion.”

“Again, it was a nice ball by Metz to Eddie [Sinegal] that ended up being a drop, the ball was on the ground. And then boom boom, two big plays and it’s a 24-13 game instead of UTEP being ahead. And then we’re playing catch-up.”

“So it got away from us at that point. Disappointing.”

Cole Freytag continues his strong senior season

Cole Freytag I thought had an outstanding game, he’s going to represent UTEP with the pick axe next week as captain of the week. I can’t say enough good things about Cole Freytag as a person and as a player. He brings it every day in practice, he practices the way he plays, he’s a competitor, each and every catch that he made in that game was either a contested catch or an outstanding catch with somebody bearing down on him and on one, he took a pretty vicious hit to the head.”

Kugler also talked about the defensive struggles versus Old Dominion

“Defensively, we talked about eliminating chunk plays. Our goal is to keep them below 10. They were at 10. Most of those came late in the game, which was disheartening.”

“There was a 40-yard touchdown run and a 77-yard pass at that point. I thought the defense did do a good job on third downs, held them to only 1-for-8, 12 percent. But again, they scored 3 out of 4 red zone touchdowns.”

“We wanted to get multiple hats to #33 and #35. I had a lot of respect for these backs coming into the game. These are hard chargers, guys who break tackles, didn’t die easily. I thought we contained #35 pretty well but #33 had a big day against us. And the 40-yard run started it off.”

“The disappointing thing was heading into the fourth quarter, they had only 45 yards rushing. So that’s the third time that our run defense in the fourth quarter was not up to par.”

“We talked about starting fast. Again, the defense gave up an opening score drive and then the offense turned the ball over. At that point I felt the defense really tightened up, from the first quarter till halftime because they were dealt two short fields and only gave up three points on those short fields.”

“We also wanted to put pressure on the quarterback. When we did, it was the result that we thought. We thought we could get him to throw off his back foot and be inaccurate.”

“We got two sacks, one was by Dante Lovilette with Mad Dog [Brian Madunezim] together and the other was a combined sack with Gino Bresolin, Alvin Jones and Foster Dixson.”

“Dixson has been doing a pretty good job getting heat on the quarterback. But there were other times we didn’t get a pass rush, we allowed him to set his feet and he was accurate with the ball.”

Dashone Smith came up with his second interception in consecutive weeks

“We did produce a turnover for the second week in a row. Dashone Smith, who is really playing outstanding for us right now, had back-to-back weeks with a turnover. He had an interception on the short end of the field.”

Kugler knows what is ahead of UTEP sitting at 2-6 at this point in the season

“We’re where we’re at right now. There are four games left in the season. We understand where we’re at.”

“As I mentioned after the game, it’s on all of us, starting with me as the head coach, to try to salvage this season. We have four games left. We’re going to attack those four games.”

“If there’s any questions about our players laying down or our coaches laying down, don’t even ask that question because I’m not going to answer it. We’re not going to lay down, we’re going to continue to fight, and we plan on finishing this season the right away.”

Moving on to Houston Baptist

“FCS team from a very good conference that plays very good football. Their losses are to excellent teams. Central Arkansas, Sam Houston who is ranked #2 in the country in FCS, they played Western Kentucky from our division, Nicholls State who took an FBS team Southeast Louisiana down to the wire. They have beaten Texas Southern, Abilene Christian and Lamar.”

“Probably their best player on the offensive side of the ball is their quarterback. But he is their second-leading rusher. This guy can scoot. He can run. He is a smaller guy. He’s not like the quarterback that we faced last week. And when things are not there offensively, he’ll take off. Most of his yards aren’t necessarily on the zone read type plays, it’s more him scrambling when he passes and making big plays out of that.”

“They run the ball first. #8 has 511 yards and a five-yard average and again, we’re seeing a trio of big receivers -- 6-1, 205, 6-6, 225 and 6-5, 198 -- which has caused us problems in the past.”

“On defense you’ll see some unusual things. They are a pressure defense. You’ll even see what we call radar. It’s all 11 guys standing up at the same time, moving around trying to cause confusion, trying to cause MIKE point confusions and identification problems.”

“They are getting great production from their linebackers, in particular #40. He is their most productive player, this guy is all over the field.”

“Probably their two best defenders are their safeties. They are very physical safeties, good size safeties, they get heavily involved in the run game. We need to take advantage of that.”

“Up front it’s not the biggest front, they’re more of an active front, they’re on the move all the time. Their most productive guy is #49, a freshman defensive end that has eight tackles for losses.”

“This is a solid football team. I refer back to last year when we played Incarnate Word, an FCS team from the same division they came in. They were a very physical team and gave us everything we could handle in that game.”

“We’re at 2-6, so we’re not in a situation where we can overlook anybody. We’re going to prepare for this game like it’s a one-round playoff game. That’s got to be our mentality the rest of the year. We’ve got four games and any one of those, if they turn into a loss, we’re not bowl-eligible. If we win all four, we’ll be bowl eligible. We’re going to approach it one week at a time.”

Kugler was asked if Walter Dawn is UTEP’s backup running back

“No, he’s not the backup running back, but he will be utilized more and more as the season progresses. We’ll use him as a receiver, we’ll use him as a returner. We’ll use him in different facets on offense. The backup running backs are Quadraiz Wadley and Kevin Dove, two guys that I want to get more repetitions as the season goes on.”

Ryan Metz saw a doctor after the game but is okay

“He is fine, but he is sore. He took some hits. Ryan Metz is an unbelievable competitor. He took some shots. He stands in there.”

“That’s where the development of Ryan Metz has taken the biggest turn. He is standing in the pocket, he’s moving in the pocket, he’ll hang on to it until the last second.”

“You see when he takes off, he’s fearless. He took another violent hit to the head but it wasn’t a concussion. His back was sore and those type things.”

“This kid fights, he is the leader of our team and our kids respond well to him. I thought Ryan played well enough for us to win in that game. He was a victim of many drops, and many drops in critical situations. One was a touchdown drop and three were on third down where the ball was perfectly timed on the money and ended up being dropped. Ryan performed well enough for us to win in that game.”

Kugler was also asked how UTEP can improve their offensive line play

“Playing in sync, finishing blocks better. There are times they look outstanding. You saw some of those drives where we’re getting 10 yards a clip, 12 yards a clip. And then the very next play is a negative play. So consistency, finishing blocks and playing in sync for an entire 60 minutes.”