Sean Kugler talked about equal quarterback reps, and how important scrimmage play during camp will be in making a decision on a starting quarterback during a live interview on ESPN3 as C-USA Media Days wrapped up for UTEP on Tuesday morning.
Kugler touched on a range of topics such as UTEP's injury filled 2015 season, UTEP's mammoth offensive line, having a seven game home schedule, Aaron Jones' return, and of course the quarterback competition.
Kugler was very passionate when he mentioned how focused, and the determined chip on the shoulder approach Aaron Jones has as he returns, saying Jones is "as hungry as I've sen a player getting ready to prepare for the season."
He also broke down UTEP's offensive line depth, and what having Brent Pease running the offense means to the program.
In another interview with beIN Sports Kugler said his team has the tools to make a bowl game.
One of the biggest takeaways from Kugler's comments on Tuesday is how important UTEP's scrimmages in the fall will be in terms of the quarterback competition. Equal reps will be given during practice portions of fall camp, but stock will be greatly measured by the quarterback's performance in UTEP's two scheduled scrimmages in fall camp in Ruidoso.
During the ESPN3 stream, Nick Usher talked about how Tom Mason is a coach the defensive guys have gravitated to him with his wholesome, father-like approach.
Darrin Laufasa also broke down his role as a fullback in UTEP's new offense, and the excitement of having Aaron Jones back in the backfield.
Here are some direct quotes from Sean Kugler on the final day of C-USA Kickoff.
On his team's demeanor despite having 15 season-ending injuries in 2015.
We've got great kids, they compete. They fought hard last year. In fact at the end of the year, they were probably a missed field goal away from going to a bowl game. Fourteen of those 15 (lost to season-ending injuries) are back this year. They're hungry and they're ready to compete, and I think going through adversity helped our team become stronger and build depth.
On the areas progress needs to be made.
Well you know we have two new systems on both sides of the ball so getting adjusted to that. The kids have done a great job; they've had an outstanding summer and they're prepared and are ready to go. How quickly they grasp those systems heading into the fall will be really important. We start our conference with Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, two of the top teams from our side last year, so we'll know quickly if we're ready to go.
On Coach Brent Pease.
He's very intelligent. He knows the style of offense I want to run. He loves physical style of offense and is very creative.
On the offensive line and the progress made since his first year.
That first year we had nine scholarship offensive lineman. We're sitting at 18 now. It's a very veteran group, they've developed in our program for a couple of years. They've got good size and they've got good depth. Now our two deep-I don't know how many lineman we even had close to 300 pounds that first year-every single one of them is over 300 pounds. They get after it pretty good.
On injury to Mack Leftwich and who looks to step in at quarterback.
Yeah it's unfortunate for us. We have Ryan Metz, who was a true freshman for us last year, and Kavika Johnson, who was a true freshman. They both won football games for us so both of those guys finished spring one and two. We're adding Zach Greenlee, a graduate transfer with two years from Fresno State, into the mix so it's going to be an open competition at camp and one I'm looking forward to.
On how to determine who will be the starting quarterback.
We're going to have equal reps to give everybody a fair opportunity but most of the work that will be deciding toward the starting quarterback will be in scrimmage play.
On the defensive system under Tom Mason.
We really felt personnel wise we're better structured to run a 3-4. We've been wanting to run a 3-4 since I've been here, and we're very lucky to get somebody with the experience of Tom Mason. We can really run balanced blitzes from the 3-4 formation. We feel guys like Nick Usher at outside linebacker and Alvin Jones at inside linebacker are better suited for that scheme. On the defensive side of the ball we recruited big lineman to best fit that scheme. All in all I really feel that changes on both side of the ball were necessary and also benefited our team.