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UTEP Football: Four things to watch in Friday's spring scrimmage

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Here's a quick preview of the Miners final spring workout

UTEP has practiced three times a week since early March, breaking for a week off for spring break, and will end spring practices Friday with a final spring scrimmage.

Here are four things to watch in the Sun Bowl on Friday.

Running back depth

With projected starter Quadraiz Wadley out for Friday's workout, and incoming freshman Josh Fields planning for high school prom, the door is wide open for a back to shine on Friday.

TK Powell suffered an injury in UTEP's first padded workout early in the spring, and Walter Dawn is making the full-time switch back to running back after playing both roles last season as a true freshman.

Along with Dawn, we will see a whole bunch of Kevin Dove, and Ronald Awatt taking carries, and those are actually very good things.

Awatt has drawn positive reviews from coaches due to his natural abilities and strong finish to spring practices, and Dove is the power back UTEP has been looking to emerge in their run first attack.

Wadley was the clear cut number one back before his injury, but now the door is open for some new faces to make a case for carries come September.

Aaron Jones is well out the door, but these future backs have a chance to make a name for themselves before the long wait until the fall.

How well tuned is the offensive line?

Outside of the earlier scrimmage in the spring where the pass rush won out the day, UTEP's offensive line has been solid in the few practices I've been able to catch.

One of the big stories is the health of Derek Elmendorff as he has worked his way back into the starting mix after an injury riddled junior season saw him on the sidelines. With big Derek healthy and getting back into his 2014 form, UTEP again has an experienced line with plenty of depth.

The only question marks in terms who goes where seems to be at tackle, and projected starter Jerrod Brooks will be a no-go Friday, again opening the door for some competition. Kugler hinted about recruiting a grad transfer tackle, and those worries/needs could be magnified Friday.

Will Hernandez has been in All-American form, and the depth pieces that are moved around throughout the scrimmage will be key to watch as the starting depth chart, and depth behind are starting to form.

New defensive playmakers?

The El Paso Times wrote about defensive standouts like Nose Tackle Christian Richardson, and Outside Linebacker Dylan Parsee having strong camps, but which other newcomer and/or returner who is seeing increased reps turn heads Friday?

It could come from what looks like an improved, and more experienced defensive line which returns a number of players who saw plenty of snaps last season.

Most eyes will be on the Miners two new JUCO defenders Kahani Smith, and Kalaii Griffin as two pieces that will help UTEP in the depth and playmaking department. Right now both are working with certain packages as they get themselves acclimated to life at the FBS level.

UTEP is pretty much set in the secondary, so the main focus should be at linebacker.

With Alvin Jones out and we all know what the stud linebacker can bring, look for Stephen Forester to make a big stride at linebacker, and of course veteran linebacker Dante Lovilette and senior safety Devin Cockrell have had a very strong springs.

UTEP has bolstered their depth on the defensive side, and we could see those dividends paying off in the final practice of the spring in terms of guys just making plays.

The state of the passing game

Ryan Metz has been pretty steady in the spring, but the real surprise has been freshman Mark Torrez.

Metz has the position locked up for 2017 and 2018, but Torrez is a name to keep an eye on for future and could earn himself some fans with a continued strong performance Friday.

As for the passing game as a whole, the big test on Friday will be on how far along the passing has come since the latter half of last season. The wideouts play a huge role in this as well, as no one has really took the claim of a "number one target" label.

Although guys like Tyler Batson, Kavika Johnson, Keynan Foster, Warren Redix, Eddie Sinegal, and Terry Juniel all have the talent to emerge. Also keep an eye on freshman Richie Rodriguez who has explosive home run hitting capabilities.

Metz has had new tight ends, and a few returning targets to work with this spring. Providing steady improvement has been a theme for Metz, but taking the passing the game to the next level of consistency is the task Metz faces.

Tight end David Lucero will be a main target Friday, but how much rope does UTEP continue to give its junior quarterback in order to keep teams out of the box, and make the passing game an actual factor week-to-week is the big question for the 2017 passing game.

It's hard to gauge how good a team will be in the spring based off a few weeks of practices, minus a few key players nursing some injuries, but if UTEP can answer these four aforementioned aspects, things are on the right track heading into the summer ahead of a season filled with questions marks.