UTEP held their second full pads practice of Camp Ruidoso on Sunday, with the defense making enough plays to win the day in a humid two-hour workout.
Ryan Metz went 7-for-12 for 108 yards, with an interception, and also threw a long touchdown pass to Terry Juniel. Zack Greenlee threw for 86 yards on 2-of-3 passing and a score, and redshirt freshman Mark Torrez threw the other interception.
But it was the defense who had the slightly higher productive day, pressuring the offensive line, and creating two turnovers during the team work portion of the scrimmage.
The scrimmage started with a 70-yard touchdown run by Kevin Dove, and Dove finished with 76 yards on 5 carries, and also scored a touchdown in the goal line portion of the scrimmage.
UTEP’s first team defense was solid in red zone work, forcing a long 3rd-and-21, but Metz would find JUCO transfer Alan Busey for a long 33-yard gain which set the offense up with a first down inside the 10-yard line after the rough start.
The defense would hold strong, stuffing three straight runs to win the drill.
UTEP’s ground game was held in check at times, Freshman Ronald Awatt carried four times for 25 yards, including the second longest rush of the day with a 12-yard gain he broke to the outside.
Warren Redix caught two passes for 88 yards, and the long touchdown from Metz. Kavika Johnson caught three passes for 35 yards, and Josh Weeks caught two passes for 29 yards, including a long gain on a third down situation from Metz.
The defense piled up four sacks, and were in the backfield a lot, spearheaded by the Miners improved defensive line. Four different Miners recorded sacks including Alvin Jones who saw limited action as a precaution.
Sophomore Denzel Chukwukelu, Jones, senior Lawrence Montegut and junior transfer Jamar Smith all recorded sacks. As far as leading tacklers, freshman Dedrick Simpson, senior Devin Cockrell and Jamar Smith each recorded a trio of stops.
During the ‘gotta-have-it’ segment, where the offense takes the ball at midfield on a 4th-and-four scenario, Terry Juniel took a Metz pass to the end zone for a 50-yard score. The Miners didn’t convert the first fourth-down attempt.
Nik Needham picked off Metz in a two minute drill after Metz got the offense in the redzone during the drill. Freshman Kahlil Brown also picked off Mark Torrez with a diving catch on a well placed ball Brown made a great play on.
Three quick takeaways from Sunday’s scrimmage.
Mark Torrez is legitimately pushing for the backup QB job
Torrez saw extended action before Zack Greenlee with the first team in the opening move the ball segment, showing he is slowly inching up the depth chart.
Production wise, Torrez struggled, but you can see the play making ability, and moxie he possess in the pocket. He can also create plays with his legs, and Brent Pease also drew up some designed runs for Torrez out of the pistol.
He has a great attitude when it comes to his current depth chart spot, maximizing every rep, and looks to etch his name as a backup while continuing to learn the pro-style offensive concepts.
Defensive line was nasty
UTEP looked bigger, quicker, and brought plenty of nasty along the defensive front.
Denzel Chukwukelu made a big difference off the edge, but the entire unit was solid against the run, and provided tons of pressure on the quarterback on both the first and second teams.
Their strong play opened things up for JUCO transfer linebacker Jamar Smith and the outside backers who able to make plays at the first level.
One of the surprises was Dedrick Simpson who was lined up at end, and nose, and recorded three tackles in the scrimmage.
Another interesting performance was Keith Sullivan who dominated on back-to-back plays as the scrimmage ended with the rookies and freshman getting reps to end the scrimmage.
Running back situation
Dove has etched himself as the guy for right now, having a strong day, and converting every short down yardage situation, but Sunday’s scrimmage did not produce any other notable performances.
Ronald Awatt had a nice day, breaking one to the outside with a quick stutter step and burst. While Josh Fields and TK Powell had relatively quiet days. Kugler said Powell is still working his way back into shape after his knee injury in the spring.
Fields did get first team reps at times, while Awatt and Powell mainly worked with the 2’s.
Walter Dawn was held out with a minor injury.
Also of note, Forest McKee was the lone fullback to see action when UTEP went to I-formation sets.
Jayson VanHook—-Shoulder (out, no timetable)
Alex Jean-Charles——Back (no timetable)
Chris Barnwell——Leg (no timetable)