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Monday Lunch With Kugler

Sean Kugler recognizes Texas’ major talent.

Review of the NMSU game

“It was a great first win. I want to thank the fans. I thought they were outstanding. As a team we talked about playing with energy and emotion for the whole game.”

“All in all it’s great to start 1-0, it’s always great to beat your rivals. I told coach Martin, I think they are a much-improved team, in particular defensively. I think they’re doing a great job over there. It’s a fun rivalry and we enjoy competing against them.”

“We started fast. That was one of our goals.”

“We always talk about not turning the ball over. That was probably the most disappointing thing in the game.”

We put the ball on the ground three times in this game. Fortunately for us, twice our guys were hustling and got on top of those fumbles by Aaron Jones and then the young freshman [Quadraiz Wadley] probably made a poor decision, bouncing the run play.”

“We went back to him later in the game and he did outstanding. It’s a lesson learned for him that you can’t turn the ball over and be a running back at the Division I level, and you also probably can’t bounce the run. Quadraiz is a very talented runner and he’ll continue to get opportunities.”

“Offensively we talked about getting explosive plays. It was really what we’ve been searching for. We had 11 explosive runs of +10 yards or more, two of those resulting in touchdowns.”

“And we had four explosive passes over 20 yards, one resulting in a touchdown to Cole Freytag.”

“All told we had 15 explosive plays and three touchdowns, which is certainly the most that we’ve had since I’ve been the head coach.”

“We talked about being in manageable and efficient third downs. We were 11-of-17, 65 percent. If we continue with that clip, that would probably put us tops in our league. It’s tough to sustain that.”

“We talked about catching the catchables. We had one drop the entire game. That was on a swing pass to Terry Juniel, probably a little behind him and he didn’t get his hands on it. I thought the receivers did a nice job. Cole Freytag had his best game.“

“We talked about winning on the perimeter as far as blocking. Whenever you have a rushing game like we did and a back rushes for 250 yards, it’s not just the offensive line, it’s the tight ends, the fullbacks and the wide receivers. I thought we did a nice job on the perimeter.”

On Zack Greenlee, and his health

“We talked to Zack Greenlee about being efficient, accurate and playing with toughness. Probably of all those things, the thing that I came out of it with was his toughness. Unbeknownst to people he tweaked his knee in the first series of the game. He had to get it re-taped and braced. He played the entire game with it. He also injured his shoulder when he landed on the turf one time and kind of mangled his finger on his throwing hand and completed the game. He took care of the football. It was a very efficient game for him. We’ll have to check and see on his health and availability for this week. But I admire his toughness in that game.”

On UTEP’s defense vs. NMSU

“Defensively we talked about giving up minimal explosive +10 runs and +20 passes. We had four explosive runs against us and three explosive passes against a team that has really hurt us with explosive plays in the past. That was seven explosive plays on defense and 15 explosive on offense.”

“If you have that kind of variance, you’re going to win that game. We talked about speed option possibly affecting us early like it did in the last couple of seasons, and it wasn’t a factor really.”

“As a matter of fact, I’ll take the quarterback being the leading rusher any time. If you take out the quarterback runs, their running backs carried it 21 times for 76 yards. I thought the defense did a nice job overall stopping the run game.”

“We did not get any sacks, I thought we had several pressures on the quarterback but we’ve got to start hitting home with hits and sacks. It’s something we’ve got to really try to improve upon.”

“I thought the defense was outstanding on third downs. We did not get any turnovers. But we had several contested balls due to hits that ended up being drops by the receivers and tight ends because of the physicality of our DBs. I thought the DBs covered well and I thought they were physical breaking up balls. We had several pass breakups but we need to get the football itself.”

“I thought we played with good fundamentals for the first game. There were a few missed tackles, none really resulting in big plays but tacking on four or five yards. We need to clean that up.”

“Again I was really pleased, the last 3 years we have played New Mexico State they kind of rumbled down the field and scored first. We challenged our guys to start fast. We got off the field on the first series and held New Mexico State to three points in the first half.”

“The other thing, I felt in the third quarter, I don’t know if it was a little relaxation or a little bit of fatigue but those two long drives were probably a negative thing. But from that point they bounced back and stopped New Mexico State on consecutive drives.”

On UTEP’s special teams performance

“As I said before the game, I thought the biggest jump we were going to make as a team this year was on special teams. I thought it was an outstanding day by everyone. Alan Luna had a 43.8 yard net average.“

“Punt return, I think we kind of got a glimpse of what Terry Juniel can do. It’s kind of amazing, after his returns he’s over there shaking his head. He’s mad at himself because he didn’t take it to the house. I think you will see at some point this kid take it to the house. He had a 17.3-yard average, our goal is 10. That’s outstanding. And he fields the ball extremely well. He has great judgment and I think he’s going to be a special punt returner for us.”

Kugler then breaks down the Longhorns

“If anybody watched that game last night, it was one of the best college games I have ever witnessed from an excitement standpoint.””

“This is a team that is loaded with talent. These guys get the cream of the crop year in and year out when it comes to players. They have changed their offensive mentality, they’re more of an up-tempo and multiple spread.”

“They’ve got a new coordinator. They’re going to try to rattle off as many plays. They ran 86 plays against Notre Dame, I’m sure their goal is probably 100 plays a game. We need to really be on our screws with that. They were very balanced offensively. Zero sacks given up, they were very good in the red zone and third downs. They had one turnover.”

“They use two quarterbacks. They played a really talented freshman, #16 Shane Buechele. He had a very good game for them. He threw some outstanding long balls, one of those being dropped. And then they bring in what they call their 18 wheeler package and I can see why they call it that.”

“Their other quarterback is 6-4, 250 pounds (Tyrone Swoopes). He is a hoss. They’ve got a nice little red zone package. They didn’t throw it much with him, he had one attempt, but he carried it 13 times for 54 yards and he scored the game-winning touchdown on a spectacular play. This guy is a threat with the ball in his hands.”

“Both their running backs, I don’t know which one you to pick to go against, one is 249 pounds and one is 252 pounds. So us tackling high would probably not be a good thing.”

“They have a very tall, athletic group of receivers. Looking at their top-deep, they have seven receivers who are 6-3 or taller. I don’t think we have a 6-3 receiver on our team.”

“This #1 (John Burt), you saw the long ball that he caught. He was their second-leading receiver last year. This guy has got track speed. He’s 6-3, 190 pounds. He was targeted 12 times so he’s their go-to-guy.”

“They’ve got several other outstanding receivers, #3 Armanti Foreman and #13 Jerrod Heard who has played quarterback for them in the past, he’s very athletic.”

“They have a very athletic offensive line, 6-4, 306 across the board with three returning starters. They do have a true high school freshman center, who I thought did a dang good job in his first game.”

“They are very experienced. Their entire starting secondary is back which again, much like their receivers, they are big and physical, these guys are 6-1, 6-2, 6-1. “

“They play a lot of man coverage. They give you a lot of multiple looks up front. They’ll present odd front looks, they’ll present even front looks, they’ll stem in and out of those to try to create confusion. They pressure quite a bit and they play a high percentage of man coverage. Our receivers have got to do a good job off man coverage and press.“

“Defensively they have what they call a fox position for them, it’s more of a hybrid linebacker and defensive end. #40 is outstanding, he’s got 19 career starts, he had four tackles against Notre Dame. He’ll line up as a standup linebacker, he’ll line up as an outside linebacker, he’ll get down as a defensive end in a stance, he’s got to be accounted for at all times.”

“I think their middle linebacker Malik Jefferson is outstanding. He has great size. He was Big 12 Freshman of the Year and he was their second-leading tackler last year as a true freshman. This guy is going to be an NFL star.”

“Interior-wise, they’ve got three very large athletic, explosive, I use the term disruptive tackles. They are very compact, very thick and explosive. Their entire secondary is 6-2 or better. They’ve got great length and speed and it allows them to play a lot of man coverage.”

“These guys have got athletes across the board offensively, defensively, they’re an experienced team. They have implemented a system on offense that’s very difficult to defend and they have the talent to run it defensively. They’ve got NFL talent across the board. It’s going to be an extreme challenge for us.”

“I’m very excited for our players to have the opportunity to go play a Big 12 team in front of 100,000 fans. All these kids who played high school football in Texas, they probably dreamed of playing for Texas when they were growing up. I know they’re going to be excited to have the opportunity to go play against them.“

“We’re going to approach this game like we do every game. We’re going to be prepared. We’re going to try to play fundamentally sound and we’re going to try to play our hearts out and fight for the Miner fans. That’s our mentality going into this game and that will be our mentality going into every game.”

Kugler admires the job Charlie Strong has done at Texas

“He has done a great job recruiting since he has been there. I admire what he’s done there.”

“He had a difficult chore, he had to eliminate some guys from the program. He had to get his culture the way that he wanted it. I think he has that now, you see how they played last night with great energy. They have all bought in.”

“It’s going to be a difficult chore for us. We understand that. Matchup wise, we don’t match up with them across the board. There may be some individual matchups that we like in our favor. But all in all, when you look at matchups it tilts heavily in their favor.”

On prepping for two quarterbacks

“They’re both completely different. The freshman quarterback is very accurate and has a strong arm. He handled the pressure. He’s a different cat. He’s going to be a great player for Texas.”

“The big quarterback presents his own problems. With the ball in his hands, he’s a weapon. He can run, he’s physical. That’s not an easy chore to drag somebody like that down. We’re going to have to be very clean in our tackling, we can’t have arm tackles, we can’t tackle high and we’re going to have to be really fundamentally sound against all their backs. It will be a challenge.”

Kugler says Texas’ offensive tempo is level above NMSU’s

“Normally after the play you’ve got eight to 10 seconds for the [defense] to huddle up and catch your breath. When you’re going one play after the other, especially after they’ve had a big play, you’re running 20 yards down the field and they’re lined up ready to go for the very next play and you’re trying to get the signal from the sidelines, it gets you a little winded.”

“That comes down to conditioning and mental toughness and being able to handle that and being able to concentrate under those conditions. And also, you can’t sub. It is difficult to go against.“

“Teams that are up tempo, the last thing they want to see is a team that slows it down and keeps the ball away from their offense. I think a big key in this game offensively is we can’t have a bunch of three and outs and let them have that ball and ramble down the field. “

“We’ve got to control clock best as we can in this game and more importantly, because of the style of offense.”

Austin will be pretty hot and humid this weekend, how will it effect the Miners?

“I do understand playing in hot and humid environments, it takes its toll. Our guys have to be smart. They have to hydrate throughout the week, they’ve got to take care of their bodies, they’ve got to eat properly and they’ve got to rest properly. And they have to do the same during the game. We’re probably going to have to substitute more than we normally do. Everybody is probably going to have to play in this game to handle that heat.”

Kugler keeps it real when talking about expectations this week, and how he will motivate them

“I’ll be honest, we’ll probably have to play a perfect game for us to beat this team. I’m not saying that it can’t be done. I know our kids are going to go out and give their all. I love the way our kids compete.”

“There’s not a single kid in our program that even probably got a recruiting letter from the University of Texas. I know personally we have a lot of competitive kids on our team. I know they take that personally and they need to come play with a chip on their shoulder.”