The Sun Bowl lights will be on, game jerseys will be worn, but the message will be the same as the Miners previous spring practices. Execute the situation in front of you, play physical, play fast, and put out some good film.
UTEP will go through their annual "spring game" on Friday, but it will be more like a regular Sean Kugler scrimmage filled with situational work, and mental, and physical toughness challenges.
The workout will include one-on-one, and pod competitions, with a few El Paso v. El Paso matchup's supposedly set up.
Here are five things to watch in Friday's scrimmage.
Its down to just two available quarterbacks until the fall, and both will get a number of reps on Friday in a number of different situations. The coaches have seen plenty reps from each Kavika Johnson, and Ryan Metz over the past few weeks, and now executing in third down situations, and accuracy in the passing game could be weighed heavily in terms of the depth chart race. Expect both to intertwine with both the first and second string's, giving fans a chance to see each quarterback work with UTEP's deep groups of skill player packages.
Defensive depth will be on full display
The spring has been important time for the UTEP defense in not only learning a new scheme, but lots of young, up and coming impact players have seen plenty of reps on the defensive side. Emerging linebackers Johnny Jones, and converted safety Leon Hayes will be guys I will be particularly paying attention too at linebacker. In the secondary freshmen corners Jalen Harris, and Curtez Woods are another pair of possible depth chart crackers to watch. You will also see sophomores Mookie Carlile, Nik Needham, Kalon Beverly, and Michael Lewis along with junior safety Brendan Royal who has also had a strong spring. UTEP's linebacker core is thin at the moment with reinforcements coming in the fall, so Friday is a chance for a vying candidate in the back seven to put out some solid tape.
UTEP's skill position groupings
UTEP's skill position packages in Brent Pease's new offense are extremely intriguing, and next to the QB's could become the second most important thing to watch. With the Miners down a tight end, which is an important part of the new offense, it will be interesting to see how many 3-wide or even 4-wide sets the Miners trot out there. The usual suspects, Tyler Batson, Jaquan White, Cole Freytag, Darrin Laufasa, and Warren Redix will get their touches. But pay attention to the way Terry Juniel, Eddie Sinegal, Elliott Oldham, and tight ends Augie Touris, and Sterling Napier figure into UTEP's passing game. With Treyvon Hughes having a strong spring at running back, the production between him and TK Powell will be another interesting aspect to watch as they both battle for positioning for the backup running back spot. Chemistry, consistency, and production are must haves on Friday night even though its just the spring.
One of the more heated, and highly competitive periods on Friday will be the redzone period. UTEP's offense was pretty efficient in the redzone last season, but the defense allowed a 85.7 scoring percentage in the redzone last year. Play calling on both sides of the ball will be interesting to see in the redzone segment, as well if the quarterbacks can step up and make plays in the redzone. On the defensive, can the run be stopped, and/or a turnover or negative play be forced? An area of importance with the style of ball UTEP plays will be an important part of Friday's scrimmage.
Last season it was Nik Needham who picked off two passes in the spring scrimmage last season, and pretty much played almost very defensive snap in the 2015 season. Will it be a quarterback, skill guy, or will a defensive player step up and have themselves a productive day. The competition from every practice I've seen this spring has been highly competitive, something fans can expect Friday night, hopefully along with a breakout star.