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Monday Lunch With Kugler

Sean Kugler gave out some good info during his weekly press conference, here are the quotes.

Kugler opened up his weekly media meet with condolences to Army and the family of Brandon Jackson.

“First off, Id like to offer condolences to family, teammates and coaches of Brandon Jackson. He is an outstanding young man who passed away for Army this weekend. I can’t even imagine being a father myself what his family is going through, and being a coach what his coaches and teammates are going through. But our best wishes and thoughts and prayers are with their entire team.”

Kugler then breaks down a review of the Texas game

“Tough loss for us at Texas against an excellent football team. Some things that stood out in my mind, I didn’t think we played the smartest in this game. We had three personal fouls, two that resulted in extending drives that would’ve gotten us off the field that resulted in scores for them, and the other one was an offensive personal foul, which was a crack back that eliminated a drive for us. Against a team that talented, you can’t afford to lose any chances to continue or stop drives. We did that three times in this game and that was disappointing.”

“Offensively, we talked about having zero turnovers. We did have a fumble and it was in a critical point in the game. It would’ve gotten us down to field goal range or touchdown range. We were in the red zone and Tyler Batson coughed up the ball. We can’t do that, especially in those circumstances. We had a goal of rushing for 200 yards against Texas. We rushed for 135 but 41 of those yards were taken off of our sack total, which we had five in this game.”

Aaron Jones had an outstanding game for the second week in a row. I truly felt that he was the best football player out on that field. He was taken out of the game very early in the third quarter. That game was out of balance and it would’ve made no sense to leave Aaron Jones in the game at that point. We wanted to get a look at some of our younger guys like Quadraiz Wadley and Tyrone Nelson.”

“We did not do a good job on third downs and a lot of that had to do with where we were on third down. There were a lot of third and longs due to either tackles for losses, assignment errors, penalties and false starts. We were 3-for-15, 20 percent. Our goal is 45 percent or better.”

“We talked about efficient and accurate quarterback play. Kavika [Johnson] was 66 percent but we didn’t get any chunks down the field. Probably the biggest lesson that he can take from that game is protecting the ball and knowing when to get rid of the ball in the pocket. We took three sacks that probably shouldn’t have been sacks on a screen and a rollout pass and Kavika will learn from those.”

“Texas had 10 explosive plays. We had six and you’re not going to win the game doing that.”

“Defensively, we talked about getting 2+ turnovers. We did get one and really it was a great hustle play by Dante Lovilette that resulted in a touchback. He never quit on the play, he hustled to the end zone and popped the ball out before it hit the end line and went out the back of the end zone. That stopped an offensive score from happening.”

“As a defense we probably had too many overall assignment errors. I thought the kids competed very hard on defense. I thought they were tackling well. I thought we didn’t have many long balls go over our head. They were physical, but probably too many errors not being in the right spot at the right time.”

“Our goal was to hold them under 150 yards rushing. We came close. They had 171 yards rushing. A lot of that was some zone reads by the quarterback. I thought they did an outstanding job on the three big backs. Those guys were held below 3.4 yards per rush, which they kind of gashed Notre Dame the week before.”

“We did generate heat on the quarterback, which was good to see. Nick Usher had two sacks and Jayson VanHook had his first sack. This kid keeps coming on, he keeps making plays not only on defense but special teams and you’ll see him out there.”

Kugler gives an update on Alvin Jones

Alvin Jones, unfortunately for us was injured in the second quarter. He had an ankle sprain. I don’t know his availability for this game. I know he’s going to work hard to get healthy for this game but I can’t tell you right now if he can play. He was on course to have a monster game. He had 10 tackles in a quarter and a half and they were all physical tackles on their backs. He was flying around and it’s a shame that he got injured in this game. I think it set us back a little bit and we had some moving parts.”

Kugler continued talking about the UTEP defense

“We talked about handling the tempo, getting lined up. We really didn’t have any issues with linemen or communication in this game. I thought the defense handled that extremely well. The defense for the second week in a row has gotten off the field on third downs. They were only 3-for-12 on third downs, three of those resulting in sacks. If we continue to play at that clip on third downs, that bodes well for us as a team.”

Kugler didn’t seem happy that Texas was throwing deep late in the game

“They really only had one true ball over the top of us that the safety didn’t get over the top of that ended up being a 46-yard touchdown and then in garbage time they thought it was appropriate to throw one up at the end and they got one of them as well. That’s their choice.”

Special teams took a small step back this past week

“Special teams, I thought we took a little step back. We had a punt blocked right up our shield. It’s on film for everybody to see so I would anticipate teams are going to come after us there. We need to rectify that.”

“Punt return, we had an inexcusable fumble fielded right there at the 10-yard line which they recovered at the four. But again, I think the defense did a great job putting out the fire after that. That fumble was recovered by Justin Rogers on a hustle play but we can not misjudge fielding punts.”

Walter Dawn got his first action, I think you see a little bit what he can do. He had a 27-yard return. His second return was probably not a wise judgment of trying to bounce that thing. He’s not in high school, he needs to learn to hit the seams. He’ll do that but he’s got a lot of talent. He also had three catches in limited action in the fourth quarter on offense. So another young and talented Miner that I think you’ll see on the field more and more.”

An Update on Zack Greenlee

“From an injury standpoint, we’re hoping to get Zack Greenlee back this week. That will be remaining in the balance throughout the week. And Alvin Jones will be day to day. I do know that if he can play, you won’t be able to keep that young man off the field. So that’s where we stand as far as coming out of the Texas game.”

Kugler then moves on to Army

“First off, I have the utmost respect for that program and all military academies. I think this is a special game not only for our football team and program, but also the community. I really hope that all the Miner fans, all the soldiers from Fort Bliss, all the people that respect the military and our country come out and fill up the Sun Bowl. It could be a special day.”

“As far as their team, they’re 2-0, they beat a Temple team that was in the top-25 last year and beat them handily. And they beat Rice, who has always been a solid team in our own conference. We know those guys ourselves.”

“They have been consistent by quarter. They have scored a touchdown in every quarter. They are number one in the nation in time of possession because of the offense that they run, the triple option with some wishbone thrown in there.”

“They are minimally penalized. You would expect that from a military academy. They’re very disciplined. Offensively, they are scoring close to 30 points per game, 338 yards rushing a game which is tops in the country. They don’t throw the ball much, when they do they get open receivers when they get the safeties’ eyes kind of occupied in the backfield.”

“They are averaging 379 yards per game. The things that really stand out, they’re 46 percent on third downs, they are usually in very manageable third downs because of their effective run game. They are 8-for-10 on red zone touchdowns. They have only been sacked twice and they do a very good job protecting the ball. They have not turned the ball over yet this year.”

“They have six returning starters from 2015. It all starts with their fullback [Andy] Davidson. He’s 6-2, 220, he’s a horse. He hits the hole quickly. He only has one negative play the entire year so far.”

“The quarterback makes everything go. He is a great decision maker handling the triple option that they run. He is their second-leading rusher and has a long of 31 passing.”

“They’ve got a very big target at receiver, Edgar Poe who is also, believe it or not at 6-4, 220 pounds their punt returner. He is a talented guy. They make big plays when they do throw it.”

“They have two very talented wing slots. Their wing slots are their explosive playmakers and the horse in the middle is Davidson. They have a very experienced, athletic offensive line. These guys get after it. A lot of cut blocking, a lot of angling and veer blocking and they’re quick to get up to the linebackers.”

“Defensively is probably where they’ve made their biggest jump. These guys are playing outstanding defense. They are a multiple package, slant, 3-4, their linebackers across the board, all four of them are outstanding. They have good size at the linebacker position and they have great speed.”

“These guys are only giving up 13 points per game. They are close to tops in the country in rushing yardage, they have only given up 87 yards per game. All told they are only giving up 270 yards total per game. They are great on third downs, 21 percent conversion rate, and they are good in the red zone. Teams have only been scoring touchdowns at a 50 percent rate.”

“They already have six sacks on the year. They have only given up three touchdowns on the year. They have not been scored upon in the fourth quarter. All formula for a great defense. When you watch these guys play, they fly around. They have forced five turnovers already. They haven’t given it up on offense. They are +5 (turnovers) on the year.”

“It starts with their linebacking corps, they have nine returning starters on defense. Their captain #39 Timpf flies around. Their MIKE linebacker King is also a team captain. He is a thumper but he also runs well. They are getting great production from all four of their linebackers in a 3-4 system. Their most active defensive lineman is #59 Voit. They are an active front, linebackers that can fly, safeties that are physical, they do a nice job in the passing game when teams do pass it. They are a very experienced, physical defense that can fly around.”

“We’re going to face a 2-0 team that is very confident right now. They haven’t been 2-0 in a while. They are playing energized football, I’m sure that they’re thinking they can come down here and be 3-0. Just like every week, our mentality is about our team and what we need to do to get better from week to week and what we need to do to get ready to play these guys. Schematically, when you’re talking the triple option on offense and the slant 3-4 on defense, it presents problems for us and we’re going to have to work hard and be on our screws.”

Biggest question besides health, is that Army triple-option the Miners will go up against

“It’s very difficult. It’s unconventional. You don’t see it. If you see it once a year you’re lucky. There’s not a lot of time to prepare for it.”

“It kind of changes your rules. You have to be very disciplined. Somebody always has to have the dive, somebody always has to have the pitch. There always has to be somebody on the quarterback.”

“All it takes is for one guy to be out of his gap, all it takes is for one guy not to be disciplined enough to be in position and you’re looking at a big play. If the safeties get too flirty in the backfield coming downhill and trying to stop the option, they can put one over your head too.”

“So it’s very difficult to defend. It’s always a tough chore playing any of the military academies because number one, they run such an unconventional scheme and number two, they have the athletes that are smart, they don’t make mistakes or rarely make mistakes and they play with such passion. It really fits their personnel well.”

Army has been tough on defense, execution will be a big key for UTEP on offense

“We’ve got to do a better job of having sustained drives. They’re tough to drive against. A lot of pressures, they try to outnumber you in the box in the run game. That’s why they’ve done so well versus the run.”

“If that is the case and they’re solely going to try to take Aaron Jones away, we’ve got to do a better job in the passing game getting the ball down the field, being more efficient with that, but they are outstanding on defense. I love watching them on defense, the way that they fly around. You can tell they’re a veteran team. They’re playing cohesive as a unit and they’re fun to watch.”

Kugler gives out the plan if Greenlee is unavailable

“Probably a little of both [Kavika Johnson and Ryan Metz] and try to use those guys’ talents the best we can. I probably won’t know until the end of the week on Zack Greenlee as far as his health. I do know this, Greenlee and Alvin Jones are the only guys on our team unhealthy right now, and they’re both working extremely hard to get back for this game.”

Kugler on facing an emotional Army team that just lost a player

“I haven’t dealt with losing a player. I have dealt with a personal loss. It’s emotional. You’ve got to deal with it in your own way. I can’t even come close to speak to how Army is going to deal with that. I know they’ll rally around that guy and play their hearts it. In a situation like that, that’s all you can do. I can’t even fathom that happening to a son or teammate or coach. It’s too soon.”