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Monday Lunch With Kugler

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

Kugler opens up with a quick review of the Rice game, and some injury updates.

“It’s a very disappointing loss to Rice. It directly falls on me as the head coach. We did not play well in any phase. They were the more physical opponent. That was evident when you look at rushing yards, they had over 300 yards rushing.”

“It was a tough game for us from an injury standpoint. Greg Long will be out for the season. He had surgery yesterday. He broke his leg, it was a pretty severe injury. We also lost [Alan] Busey, wide receiver, for the year to shoulder surgery, Jayson VanHook for the year to shoulder surgery, and Khalil Brown to an achilles with a season ending injury. There are several other guys who I will not know their availability until we get through the week. That’s Ryan Metz, Derron Gatewood the center, Christian Buckingham nose guard and Michael Lewis.”

As for his takeaways after breaking down the film from the Rice game…

“As a team, we felt we needed to control time of possession against Rice. We didn’t do that. They controlled it for 34 minutes. That usually equates to four extra possessions, which they did get in this game. We lost third downs and in the red zone. We turned the ball over offensively for the second straight week.

"We have to eliminate that trend moving forward if we expect to turn this thing around. We did not run the ball efficiently. We gave up four sacks, there were too many hits on the quarterback, there were six overall quarterback hits. As a result, Ryan Metz, I do not know the availability of him for this game. We were 29 percent on third downs, our goal is 50.”

“Defensively, we gained a turnover. We had a sack by [Devin] Cockrell and Nik Needham had two sacks in that game. Nik Needham also had a fumble recovery and had five tackles. He will lead our team out on Friday night against Arizona as the pick axe carrier. Nik has really had a solid year for us. He played well in the first game and this game, and he had an outstanding camp as well.”

“Where I was very disappointed defensively, they rushed for 6.2 [yards] per carry, 306 yards and three touchdowns. Arizona is a team that runs the ball extremely efficiently. We know what they’re going to try to do Friday night again. That’s a problem we need to solve and solve quickly.”

The drops by pass catchers killed UTEP’s chances of creating yards the needed to compete.

“I really thought Ryan Metz played a very efficient game. He was 18-of-33 for 203 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions but understand this, he had six drops. Four of those six drops came on third downs that were completions and very accurately delivered balls. They ended every single one of those drives. That’s a trend that we need to end if we’re going to turn this thing around.”

Moving on to Arizona…

“Arizona is a very fast, athletic team. They have made a lot of strides, particularly on defense. This year they are doing a good job in the turnover department. They are +3 in turnovers, they have gained five turnovers on defense, they have only turned it over twice on offense.”

“They have been a little highly penalized. They beat Northern Arizona 62-34. They just lost a very close game to an outstanding Houston team that is usually very explosive on offense. They lost 19-16. This is their first road game, this is a former rivalry a long time ago and I think the old-time WAC fans will be excited about Arizona coming here.”

“Offensively they are explosive, they are close to 40 points per game. They average 329 yards rushing per game, 7.7 yards per carry. That’s outstanding, that probably leads the nation or comes close right now. Overall 483 yards a game, but the thing that stands out, 7.1 yards per play, that’s explosive. They have only given up two sacks. They are very good on third downs, 41 percent. They are very good in the red zone, they are close to 70 percent on red zone touchdowns. I mentioned they have only given up two turnovers.”

“The quarterback is very athletic, although I see on the depth chart they list two quarterbacks as potentially playing for them. The quarterback [Brandon] Dawkins, he’s 6-3, 210, he runs a 4.5 and you can see it on film. He hits 4.5 by his second or third step. This guy can really run. Last year he had 944 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. This year he is already their second-leading rusher with 5.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns. He is also a 57 percent completion guy with 267 yards and a touchdown with zero interceptions.”

“As I mentioned, they are taking care of the ball well. They have two smaller backs, in particular [J.J.] Taylor 5-6, freshman, he is probably the same size as Walter Dawn. He is very explosive. He’s got 135 yards rushing and a 5.0 average. And then [Nick] Wilson, 5-10 tailback more powerfully built has a 10.9 yard average per carry and one touchdown and he did not play versus Houston. I do not know his availability for this game.”

“I think where they have made the most strides as a team is defensively. Marcel Yates is their defensive coordinator. He is an outstanding coach, I had the opportunity to work with him at Boise State. He has done an excellent job. They are running pretty much Boise State’s scheme there.”

“Overall they have two sacks, they have four interceptions and one fumble. They have been good on third downs, but where they have really been good is they have been stingy in the red zone. Teams have been in the red zone 11 times and only scored touchdowns three times. So they have been outstanding there. They have four freshmen that are playing for them on defense. They went with youth and these guys are all playing extremely well. #2 [Lorenzo] Burns the cornerback, he leads their team in tackles. He also has an interception. #14 [Kylan] Wilborn an outside linebacker, he leads their team in tackles for losses and sacks. He also has a forced fumble.”

“Another freshman linebacker, [Tony] Fields, he is second on the team in tackles with 13. And then their safety/nickel type guy is a good looking guy, about 6-2, 205, #6 [Demetrius] Flannigan, he leads their team in interceptions and he’s third on their team in tackles. This is a very young, fast, athletic defense. As I mentioned, the four freshmen that are playing for these guys are outstanding.”

“So this is a very fast, athletic team, Pac-12 opponent. We’ll be on the national stage on ESPN on Friday night. I would ask the Miner fans to come out and support us in full force. I thought the fans the other night were outstanding. We didn’t hold up our end of the bargain on the field. But they were energized and they were trying to help our team out as much as they could in all the critical situations. I would ask that they could do it again this Friday night.”

Kugler has used the work “fix” a lot, but what does it mean this time around?

“Fundamentals. If you’re having issues with tackling, you focus in on tackling. If you’re having issues with ball security, you focus in on ball security. Those are two things that we hit exclusively today. If you have issues in the red zone, you need to spend more time instead of doing maybe scout work or team work or individual work, spend more time in the red zone. When we have something that’s glaring, we need to attack it and you do it through hard work.”

What will some of the offensive adjustments that will be worked on over the short week?

“We do need to run the ball more efficiently. I think there were times that there were holes that weren’t hit. And then there were times that the holes weren’t there.”

“We’ve got to be better up front blocking, again Rice out-physicaled us there, and we’ve got to be better at hitting the holes but more importantly we’ve got to be better with ball security and can’t turn the ball over. It’s the second week in a row that we’ve fumbled and ended drives. Another thing you look at is personnel.”

Expect to see two freshman running backs see some carries Friday.

“I like what I’ve seen from a practice standpoint with the two freshmen, Josh Fields and Ronald Awatt. Those guys are going to get opportunities in this game. Guys get opportunities, they get a couple of carries, they make the most of it and they get a few more. Josh did some nice things in this past game, and he’ll get more opportunities in this game. And then Ronald Awatt will get some opportunities as well. I feel like in a week or two we’ll get Quardraiz Wadley back in the mix, and from a talent standpoint we’ll be back to full speed with our running back crew.”

Here is how the quarterback spot will work if Ryan Metz is out.

“We’re going to roll with Zack [Greenlee] and then Mark [Torrez] will be ready to go. Zach probably had the best camp of all three quarterbacks from an efficiency standpoint and everything, he has the best handle on the run game and those type things, but Mark Torrez is right there.”

“In fact, we put Mark in the game the other night before Zack for the reason being Mark is very athletic, he is the guy that can get out of things when nothing presents [itself], he can make plays with his legs. The rush that Rice was presenting at the end of the game when they put a hit on Ryan, I was very concerned about that, so I wanted somebody in there who was a little more mobile.”

“I wouldn’t rule out that we we’ll see both quarterbacks in this game and a mixture of other things. We have to generate yardage, whoever gives us the best chance to do that will be the guy that’s in there.”

Looking at how some of the injuries along the offensive line will affect UTEP’s depth going forward.

“Offensive line, we lose our right tackle for the year, but Jerrod Brooks steps in. He has started games in the past for us. When we went with our extra tight end stuff, he went in at tackle and Greg went to tight end. So we do have an experienced guy there.”

Tanner Stallings will take over at center for Gatewood. Tanner has started games for us. So fortunately for us, we do have guys that have played before. But you could be stuck in a position like that where you’re starting a true freshman. That’s how the game is. But we do have two experienced guys there. What it does put you in is a very tight pickle when it comes to depth. We can’t afford a whole lot more injuries at that position. All of a sudden you’re very thin.”

Sean Kugler press conference

Dikirim oleh Miner Rush pada 11 September 2017