While Saturday’s final scrimmage of camp was billed as an important day for the UTEP football team, Monday is now a key day when the coaches meet to finalize the depth chart ahead of the Miners season opener with NMSU.
“We’ll look at the film.” Sean Kugler said after Saturday’s scrimmage. “We’ve kinda complied everything from camp, and we’re going to visit it as a staff on Monday and set our depth chart for New Mexico State. Any starters or changes in the starting lineup, that will be announced next week.”
UTEP ran what they call a “thud tempo” scrimmage in where no tackling to the ground was allowed during certain periods of work. It was a productive day for the Miners first and second teams, as both were sharp, and played fast.
UTEP’s quarterbacks were also sharp, and did a good job of taking care of the ball on Saturday combining to throw 25-of-34 for 279 yards and just one interception.
Ryan Metz was 10-for-13 for 112 yards, Zack Greenlee 6-of-8 for 85 yards, Kavika Johnson threw 4-for-8 for 47 yards, and true freshman quarterback Mark Torrez went 5-of-5 for 35 yards.
One of the main offensive highlights came in the Miners two minute drill.
Facing a 2nd-and-16 near midfield after a negative play, Greenlee slung a tightly spiraled 29-yard pass to Eddie Sinegal who went up and grabbed it for a first down, a play that was SportCenter worthy.
Sinegal led all receivers with four catches for 60-yards on Saturday, Jaquan White added three catches for 45-yards including a pair of 16-yard receptions for first downs.
One of the most interesting stories coming out of Saturday’s scrimmage was Kavika Johnson seeing time at wide receiver with Ryan Metz at quarterback on the second team.
Johnson had two catches for 29 yards, including a nice 16-yard over the middle grab from Ryan Metz for a key first down.
“Kavika made some plays today, running, throwing, catching, we’re going to utilize our talent, and he certainly is a talent.” Kugler said of Johnson playing multiple positions on Saturday.
UTEP struggled to punch things in once they reached the red zone, but Kugler said the play calling was vanilla “as designed” today, and the defense took advantage in the red zone.
The Miners ran for 182 yards on 50 carries on the day. Kevin Dove led the way with 50 yards rushing on 12 carries, fellow freshman Tyrone Nelson added 35 yards on 11 carries.
Aaron and Alvin Jones were both held out of Saturday’s scrimmage for rest.
One of the freshman stars of fall camp is safety Kolbi McGary who picked off Metz for the defense's first take away of the morning. The offense, led by Metz in the two minute drill, moved the ball inside the 10-yard line, but McGary come up with the big turnover to halt the drive.
Towards the end of the scrimmage Sean Kugler called upon all “young guys” on the depth chart for a move the ball scrimmage.
The center-to-quarterback exchange was a big issue for the Miners third team, causing a fumble recovery on a botched snap to Mark Torrez for a touchdown recovered by El Paso’s Christian Johnson who was working with both second and third teams on Saturday.
UTEP also got some very good injury news on Saturday. Right guard John De La Rosa suffered an injury on Friday, but its not as serious as first thought, and his status will be updated next week.
So while no starting quarterback was named on Saturday, its safe to say Zack Greenlee is in the lead, but Sean Kugler dropped this statement after the scrimmage that will be interesting to see unfold over the entire season.
“We got three talented quarterbacks that are athletic.” Sean Kugler said. “Two of them standing next to me on the sidelines wouldn’t make sense. We’re going to utilize all three quarterbacks, you might see two quarterbacks in the game at several different times during the year.”