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UTEP Football: Defense, offense trade blows in first spring scrimmage

Lots of give and take, and lots of good, with minimal bad in the Miners first scrimmage of the spring.

It was competitively physical, both sides of the ball had their moments of shine, but more importantly the coaches and players have good film to breakdown after UTEP's first scrimmage of the spring.

"It was a good, physical scrimmage," coach Sean Kugler said.  "I thought there was really a lot of good give and take.  I thought the offense moved the ball well even though they only punched it in once."

Running back Treyvon Hughes was the offensive standout, catching three passes for 50 yards and caught two touchdowns, he also broke a 48-yard rush off left tackle in a 4th-and-1 segment, showing how effective he can be when fully healthy.

"Treyvon did a nice job today running and catching."  Kugler said.  "He had three touchdowns on the day, two of them receiving."

UTEP's quarterbacks went a combined 21-of-31 passing for 249 yards, and more importantly, zero interceptions. Metz was 11-of-15 for 129 yards, Leftwich was 7-of-13 for 90 yards and Johnson was 3-of-3 for 30 yards.

"I thought they were very solid today." Kugler said of the quarterbacks.  "I thought they handled everything, the huddle, the communication for the first time, and handled the two minute, and red zone well, very pleased with the quarterback's progression."

Kugler also pointed out that Metz has had an "outstanding spring", he's also been taking most of the first team reps this week after the reps were split evenly in the first week of spring practices.

UTEP's offense was very versatile in terms of play calling, using some uptempo looks in the first move the ball segment of the day, and used a heavy rotation of skill players with each of the three quarterbacks.

Route concepts relied heavily on using the middle of the field, with slant routes being the most effective routes run by a number of wideouts in the scrimmage.

"We'll change up the tempo." Kugler said.  "We won't be uptempo all the time, but we do have different tempos and will mix them up.  We'll try to keep the defense off guard with personnel tempos."

TK Powell was the second leading rusher behind Hughes with six carries for 27 yards.  Cole Freytag had a nice day with five catches for 71 yards and Jaquan White added five catches for 52 yards.

On defense, Christian Harper and Jorge Rodriguez both registered sacks.  Silas Firstley and Lawrence Montegut had a tackle for loss each and Dashone Smith added a pass break-up.

Outside linebacker Jayson Vanhook also came up with a big time stop in a short yardage segment for a tackle for loss.

Lots of young players saw plenty of reps on the defensive side, as defensive coordinator Tom Mason dialed up a number of zone blitzes in the scrimmage.

Kugler called the move the ball segment even, in where the offense has to drive 70-yards on the defense.  The offense scored once, but Metz led the opening drive inside the 20-yard line but stalled.

In the two minute drill segment, the offense led by Metz won a drive, and the defense also came up with a stop with Kavika Johnson, and Leftwich at quarterback.

Metz hit Hughes with 29 seconds left for a 20-yard plus touchdown to win the two minute drill.

"Metz had a touchdown to Hughes in a tough situation" Kugler said. "There was only 59 seconds with one timeout and he had to go 70 yards."

UTEP's offensive line went 3-1 in the short yardage segment, with Vanhook's stop as lone defensive stop in the physical segment.   UTEP's offense line also dominated the goal line work.

"Again a lot of great competition." Kugler summed up. "We are looking at a lot of guys at different spots,.  We have some depth issues at some positions, obviously linebacker we are very well aware of that, but I think the guys that are stepping in there are competing well.  I have been very pleased with the line play on both sides of the ball, and I thought all three quarterbacks did some good things today."

Everything was pretty much positive, except for a possible major injury.

Safety Devin Cockrell who missed all of last season with a knee injury, went down in the opening plays of the scrimmage, and was having his knee looked at by team doctors at the end of the scrimmage.

There was also some struggle with the center-to-quarterback exchange in the redzone work, but freshman Ruben Guerra was working on his snaps after a tough day at center.

Overall, plenty of work, and fine tuning remains, but the Miners took a positive step in continuing to develop depth, and execute their new schemes on both sides of the ball with a productive scrimmage.