We start looking around the depth chart and roster, previewing the 2017 Miners.
Who is in the mix?
First off: This is Ryan Metz’s team.
Metz completed 64.7 percent of his passes last year, and averaged 6.0 yards per attempt, while only being sacked 13 times in 201 pass attempts.
The junior looks more polished in terms of his eyes, and ability to stand and deliver in the pocket from his recent reps in camp. He also averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season, and only fumbled once.
A 14-to-4 TD to interception ratio was key in UTEP putting up more than 20 points in their last six games after the offense struggled to put up points on the board in the first half of the season.
Leadership is a key trait Metz will display this season, along with his renewed moxie, and confidence in the pocket.
Zack Greenlee is the veteran backup who dealt with numerous injuries last season, but showed he is capable when called.
Greenlee averaged a team high 6.3 yards per attempt last season, but completed just 50.5 percent of his passes, and had some areas of struggle.
Freshman Mark Torrez will also be in the mix for backup honors, recently making waves with his depth chart position in UTEP’s latest scrimmage during camp.
UTEP also added El Paso-Eastlake quarterback Keith Tarango-Lopez as a freshman walk-on. The big armed rookie was one of the most productive high school quarterbacks in the El Paso region the past couple of seasons playing in a wide open spread offense.
UTEP ranked no higher than 83rdnationally in passing success, explosive passing plays, and overall Passing S&P+ which measures how efficient and effective UTEP’s passing game was a year ago.
It was not up to par by lots of standards, and even throwing out the advanced metrics and just a simple eye test. But without Aaron Jones, UTEP will need the passing game to produce points this season.
There is plenty of room for improvement inside those important numbers, but the hope is experience and familiarity will improve UTEP’s passing numbers.
- Mark Torrez
- Alex Fernandes
Depending on how Kugler decides how to shape up the backup spot, UTEP should be just fine under center in the future.
Torrez is a bona fide playmaker who can add some dimensions to UTEP’s pro-style offense with his gunslinger mentality.
He admits he has a long way to go in nailing down everything the pro-style offense demands in terms of pre-snap and huddle duties.
Torrez belongs at the FBS level, and will get a chance to develop first-hand experience this season, compared to running the scout team last season.
Alex Fernandes saw some scrimmage action last Sunday with the rookies, and third teamers, showing his athletic ability and above average arm strength.
Fernandes is your prototypical 6’4, athletically built quarterback who has a very high ceiling under Brent Pease’s tutelage.
Torrez and Fernandes are clearly the future, and could be engaged in a QB battle down the road.
Predicating a breakout player
Ryan Metz is the easy choice, but let’s quickly think outside the box on this one and look towards the future with the quarterbacks.
I’m going to go with Mark Torrez who has sort of broke through already, but Alex Fernandes might not be far behind while possibly running the scout team this season and learning UTEP’s offense and showing his very polished skill set.