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UTEP Football: Two major on-field issues force Sean Kugler to step down

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Some off the head, immediate opinion on Sean Kugler stepping down as the head coach.

NCAA Football: Arizona at Texas El Paso Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

When the questions out number the solutions for five straight weeks in year five of a college football coaching regime; it’s simply time to move on.

That’s exactly what Sean Kugler decided either late last night or this morning, and while the timing is horrible, its time for UTEP to recover from two and a half seasons of noncompetitive football.

While its easy to pile on Kugs, lets look at the positives first.

Academics is a non-issue and guys are graduating, not in trouble with the law, and UTEP’s transfer rate was very low under Kugler compared to the rest of the country.

Kugler has balanced the scholarship count evenly, and in some areas UTEP has good depth. He has done well with grad transfers, JUCO transfers, and built a nice accountability culture as well.

In year two, Sean led UTEP to seven wins and a bowl game, developed two All-Americans, brought major systematic structure, discipline, and things were headed into the right direction.

But two areas Sean and his staff greatly failed at were constant flops after 2014.

The lack of a passing game, and the lack of player development were the major on-field downfalls of the Kugler era, in my opinion.

UTEP only threw for 300 yards once under Kugler, only two wide receivers have recorded 100-yard games, and that’s just simple gimmick stats. Patrick Higgins nor Brent Pease developed true route concepts, it was always quick hitches, out routes, and tight end’s running shallow crosses.

Third and long, and UTEP lines up in 11 personnel, instead of getting more speed on the field with wide outs looking for a chunk play, plus momentum via a big play.

You can get away with that in video games and against your own team in practice, not on Saturday’s during the fall. It’s hard to recruit wide receivers with those facts. Not to mention the rush, rush, pass on third long and punt sequence that was frequent in ugly losses.

UTEP was never going to attract high-level three stars or four star guys, so Kugs looked for fits, he looked for production, and even though his classes were also ranked piss poor, he has FBS talent on his roster.

Although that talent has been severely underdeveloped with simple fundamentals inside UTEP’s schemes and wanted identities on both sides of the ball. Kugler seemed to let his coaches have a lot of rope, and he let them have their way, and never overstepped boundaries.

Sub par (at best) coaching hires did not allow for the proper development.

Kugs used the grayshirt/red shirt, and his world famous “I don’t care about stars” recruiting system to get guys physically ready, but very few legit play makers have been developed over the past couple of seasons.

He relied heavily on his staff to develop his hidden gems, but his staff failed him in a lot of ways.

Sean has been in over his head offensively over the past two years without a creative passing scheme in place. Life without Aaron Jones was going to be this way if UTEP could not consistently execute the simple forward pass to a productive level.

Two years ago, Sean made great offensive hires in Brent Pease, and Theron Aych. But Aych is now at Arizona, and Pease will be looking for work in December. Both are very good football coaches in my opinion.

Kugler replaced Aych with disgraced and former high football School coach Chuck Veliz as the wide receivers coach, and the Miners wide outs regressed to a very poor level through the first three weeks.

Then after Pease was let go, Veliz was assigned the quarterbacks, and UTEP’s quarterbacks have been atrocious the past two weeks. And I actually feel UTEP has a solid quarterback depth chart for a C-USA school.

For the record, I almost shut down Miner Rush when Veliz was hired as an actual position coach.

UTEP lost secondary coach and key recruiter Gabe Franklin to Boise State, and replaced him with an inexperienced secondary coach who played in the 3-4 under Tom Mason, but did not have the resume needed to make the needed splash to replace another good coach in Gabe Franklin.

Point being?

Things were past due for a change at the top, the adjustments weren’t working, nor the coaching changes. His recruiting style wasn’t working, and UTEP’s offense was uber predictable and hard to watch without Aaron Jones lining up in the backfield.

Kugs is a UTEP guy, so we’ll love him regardless, and while maybe he didn’t the administrative support to build a better staff rather than settling for a Chuck Veliz, Kugler tried like hell to make this right, and gave his all to UTEP.