The UTEP Miners capped their spring camp on a windy Friday night with their annual Blue and White scrimmage in the Sun Bowl. The scrimmage featured plenty of miscues from the offense and more gang tackling from the defense.
The Miners return 47 lettermen to a team that finished 5-7 last season, including Running Back Aaron Jones who was held from playing during Friday’s action.
The defense of new coordinator Tom Mason, outplayed the offense, forcing quarterbacks Ryan Metz and Kavika Johnson to a combined 6 of 33 on pass attempts.
“The defense had our number, there were a lot of miscues on my part, I think just overall as an offense we didn’t click the way we wanted to,” Metz said. “A lot of guys did some good things, but there’s still a lot to clean up, especially on my part. Both Kavika and me looked at each other and we weren’t pleased with how it went.”
Johnson struggled completing passes to the outside receivers, connecting on only two of 22 pass attempts including an interception on the night.
“Offensively, pretty spotty tonight from the receiver play, too many drops, not running through routes,” head coach, Sean Kugler said. “Those are things we have to clear up.I thought Treyvon Hughes ran really well, physical, I think he established himself as the number two back.”
Kugler acknowledged the poor display by the offense, but was pleased with the performance by the defense.
“That’s back-to-back scrimmages they came out and lit it up and really on all faces,” Kugler said. “Short yardage did a nice job, the goal line offense go the best of it, red zone we moved the ball in segments and again, I’m really pleased where we’re at defensively. I’m more excited about the guys we’re going to get back after spring ball. Guys like Alvin Jones, Luke Elsner.”
The defensive unit that shined was missing several starters, while replacements capitalized on the opportunity and established themselves as potential starters and rotation players.
“A guy like Brendan Royal, he kind of established himself as kind of a part-time starter, he’s going to be an impact player on the defense. Some of the young defensive linemen stepped up today, I saw (Gene) Hopkins had a few sacks in there,” Kugler said. “Mad dog (Brian Madunezim) had a great spring, Geno Bresolin was solid and some of the back up linebackers did a nice job and we were looking for guys who could be back ups.”
The performance showed that players are responding to Mason’s play calling in what Royal says will only get them better for the summer camp.
“Just the knowledge of the defense, just playing hard and fast,” Royal said. “Most of the time when you have a new defense you kind of play slow and tentative, but I think we’ve been playing real fast.”