EL PASO, Texas - UTEP head coach Sean Kugler met with the media Monday and talked about the loss to Rice, injuries, and the game this Saturday against No. 12 Texas A&M.
(On Saturday's game at Rice)
"It was a difficult loss for us in many aspects. We lost some key players to injury. Jameill Showers had a shoulder injury. It will probably be some time before he's back. He went and saw the doctor today. Darrin Laufasa hurt his ankle and Adrian James hurt his knee. Those are three contributors for us. That hurts us depth wise."
(On Jameill Showers' injury)
"He's got a separated shoulder and will be out for an extended period of time. I would hope he'll come back [this season] but I don't think that's the case right now."
(On the quarterback situation)
"We're sticking with Blaire Sullivan. He's going to be our starting quarterback this week."
(On the turning point in the Rice game)
"We fumbled going in, which takes seven points off the board. They scored immediately after that. That's a 14-point swing. That's tough to overcome and we didn't overcome it."
(On utilizing the zone read more with Blaire Sullivan)
"That's part of our offense anyway, even with Jameill. He'll do some of that and he'll play within our offense. Blaire will do a great job for us."
(On Blaire Sullivan's performance against Rice)
"He's just got to play within the system and take what's there for you. He'll get more opportunities with practice reps and he'll be much better this week."
(On preparing for Texas A&M)
"There's a lot to prepare for. Individually Johnny Manziel is a special player. There's a lot of things that he does that you don't coach. He has a natural god-given ability to play football. When things aren't there he can make things happen, probably moreso than anybody I've seen. He's a special player. We'll have our hands full, just like everybody else has had their hands full with him."
(On the Texas A&M defense)
"I thought they played really well last week. They had seven sacks against Vanderbilt. They shut down a team below 100 yards that had been running the ball really well. They made a drastic improvement and did some things differently. They stepped up the tempo with their pressures a little bit. They have some outstanding athletes on defense, and we'll have to control the ball to give ourselves a chance to be in the game."
(On learning from the Rice game)
"You've got to learn from every game. I don't care if you win big or lose big, have a tough loss or a nail-biting win. You can learn from every game and every practice and every game in football. It's not something that we throw away. We're looking for competitiveness. You can find out a lot about specific players in a game like that. No matter what the opportunity presents, we're trying to build off of it."
(On the team's effort against Rice)
"I don't think effort was the issue. We just didn't respond well. That's what a team needs to learn to do. We don't respond well when things don't go our way. The good teams make things go their way. They set the tempo and they make things go their way and when things don't go their way they don't bat an eye. They just respond properly. We're not at that point. I acknowledge that and I understand that. It's my job to get us there and it's going to take some time and some hard work."
(On going to the bench with a 1-6 record)
"To be honest with you, we don't have any options unless I just started pulling redshirts from guys and I'm not going to do that. That's unfair to the players. I think we have several young players that are going to be outstanding players. But with five games left in the season, to say we're going to start playing those guys, it's not fair to them. Once I make a decision to redshirt a guy I'm going to stick with that. Because of our injuries, we don't have a lot of guys behind the guys that are playing right now. So depth wise it's an issue right now and we don't have a lot of options to put other guys in there. It's not something that we're going to do anyway."
(On the fullback situation)
"It will probably be Katrae Ford and Kevin Perry will be handling some of that load. Laufasa will be out for an extended period of time with his ankle."
(On Jameill Showers missing the Texas A&M game)
"He's disappointed. I'm disappointed for the young man. I was really excited for him to get the opportunity to go back and play at the school he graduated from. I'm just sick for the young man. We lose a great player and one of our best competitors. He's still going to go on the trip and be a team captain for this game. I'm just sick for the young man that he can't participate."
(On who takes Adrian James' spot)
"It will probably be Traun Roberson at corner. We're a little limited."
(On Texas A&M)
"They're talented on both sides of the ball. They're good in all three aspects. They average 48 points per game. They've moved the ball well on everybody and that includes Alabama and Ole Miss, teams that have outstanding defenses. To say we've got our work cut out for us is an understatement. We're going to have to play our best and be mistake-free to even have a chance to be in this game. That's not sugar coating it."
Source: UTEP Athletics