UTEP coach Sean Kugler Media Luncheon Transcript from Sept. 23, 2013.
The Miners play their first game at Colorado State since 1995 on Saturday before a national (CBS Sports Network) audience.
(On Saturday's loss to UTSA)
"It was a disappointing loss from our standpoint. It was a game where we were not efficient on offense and couldn't sustain anything. We had dropped balls, overthrown balls, an inefficient run game to our standards and even had a penalty that stopped a drive. Defensively, it was two different ballgames. In the first half UTSA did an outstanding job on the perimeter getting our guys chopped down and utilizing some their outside runs. In the second half our defense responded. They really played as well as they could play. They gave us about four opportunities with a short field offensively and we didn't cash in. I was extremely proud of the way the defense responded after the first half of play and hope that trend continues moving forward. We as a team offensively and defensively need to put more than a half together here or a half together there. We have to play a collective game offensively and defensively and gel in that aspect."
(On how you eliminate slow starts)
"It just comes back to practice. I told the team after the game, I don't have a magic wand in my pocket. It's really just going to come down to hard work, focusing in during the film sessions, focusing in during the meeting sessions and the teaching sessions with the coaches, working hard on the practice field and translating that to the field. There's really no magic formula in football other than working hard. To our kids' credit, they have been doing that all year. They just need to piece that together and feel that feeling, understand what that feeling is and continue that. Sometimes you've just go to do it before it happens."
(On starting 0-2 at home)
"Of course you want to win your home games. You want to win all of your games. The disappointing thing to me is the crowds have been great. They have very supportive and they have been very helpful. Our goal is to win all of our home games. Unfortunately we haven't done that this year. We'll get other opportunities and we need to take advantage of those. I have been very pleased with the fan support."
(On UTSA enjoying success in a short period of time)
"Last week I likened it to when South Florida first came on the scene. Everybody was going `Where did these guys come from?' They were beating top programs. They had the benefit of just practicing a year together and lifting weights. They have been together for three years. Continuity is a big thing in football. When you have a group that stays together for three or four years and has practice under their belt, they played like a team that has that kind of experience. They have a senior quarterback who plays like a senior quarterback. They were very physical on both lines. I really thought their secondary players were physical tacklers and their perimeter offensive players were physical guys as far as blocking. I was impressed with that program. You knew how talented they were just from watching them on film. I think coach Coker has done a great job there. I just tip my hat to them. They got after us on Saturday and in many instances we didn't respond at the right times. They got the best of us."
(How do you get your program to a consistently excellent level like Boise State?)
"Hard work and recruiting. We're light years away from a program like Boise State right now. That's done over a period of time with recruiting, keeping the same offensive and defensive system in place and keeping the same coaches in place. Chris Petersen has done a good job of maintaining the same program. Continuity is huge in football, when the players come back next year and they're in the same offensive and defensive structure and they're hearing the same message from the same coaches. Programs like that have an advantage. This being our first year, we really need to work hard to make sure that happens and I think it will benefit our program."
(On the special teams performance versus UTSA)
"I think special teams has been pretty solid all year. I see constant improvement from the two freshmen kickers. I thought Ruggles punted well. Mattox got his first and second field goal and he has been 100 percent on extra point tries and very consistent on his kickoffs as well. The kickoff coverage units continue to impress for the second week in a row. The punt coverage units were impressive. And everybody saw Autrey Golden's return. Those things don't happen just by mistake. There were a lot of good blocks that sprung him. One in particular was Devin Cockrell. The freshman came across the field and had a great effort block that sprung Autrey. One thing about Autrey is he gets his foot in the ground and he goes north, which is very ideal for a kick returner. Watching the films of the previous games, it was one of those where you go `He's going to pop one of those here real soon.' He did on Saturday night and it was exciting to see."
(Did you miss Nathan Jeffery on Saturday?)
"We miss Nathan from a rotation standpoint. There are certain plays that he runs that he does better than anybody else. We're hoping to have him back for this week. He has really worked hard. He was frustrated. He wanted to play in that game. He was close to being ready to play but he had no practice. I think with a couple of extra days rest and a full week of practice, you'll see Nathan Jeffery back and he helps our offense. We have a better chance of getting Jeffery back than LaQuintus Dowell, but there's still an outside shot."
(Were you pleased with the effort against UTSA?)
"I have had no problem with the effort, just consistency. The kids have battled back from every situation. You just go back to the first game. We were behind with seven minutes left in the game and the kids battled back and put it into overtime and gave us a chance to win. In the second game it could've went either way at one point, and the kids took over the game and they battled throughout. I think in this game the second quarter is what got us offensively and defensively. We had some three and outs from our own undoing on offense and they scored. They took advantage of it. We were behind by 15. The kids could've said `Here we go again,' especially defensively, and their response was the exact opposite. I have been pleased with the effort of our kids not just on Saturdays, but during the week. I was pleased with guys who have been stepping in for injured players and really playing their best. And we need to continue to do that. At some point hopefully we're a completely healthy team, and if we're not we just need guys to continue to step up."
(On Richard Spencer)
"He has been hobbled really since camp. He is practicing now, but there's a difference between practicing and going full speed in the games and being able to change directions and do the things you want to do. I know it has been a frustrating year for Spencer because he wants to be out there and contribute. Just know this, if he is healthy and can contribute he'll be out there."
(On Colorado State)
"They played Alabama extremely tough this past week. I think they held them to 61 yards rushing, which kind of speaks for itself with the type of program Alabama is. It was 17-6 starting off the fourth quarter and Alabama got some late scores. They're a very balanced team. They've got a good quarterback. He's another guy that can make plays with his legs if he has to. They have a very big and athletic offensive line. They run the ball efficiently. The quarterback really does a good job distributing the ball. They've got five receivers and tight ends that have over 100 yards receiving, which is pretty impressive. They have two backs with over 200 yards each. They are a very balanced offense. Special teams wise, I would really liken them to UTSA. They are very sound. Their punter is averaging over 41 yards, they do a good job in their coverage units and they've got some explosive returners. Special teams will be a big challenge for us. Defensively, they've got a nose guard that's 330 pounds who's extremely explosive and stout. There were a couple of clips in the Alabama tape where he drove their center back three or four yards. They have an outside linebacker, #56, who has 8.5 tackles for losses and three sacks. That's a lot of production this early in the season. Their leading tackler is their weakside linebacker #37 who can really run. You look at their secondary and they're all over 6-0. It's a tall, athletic secondary. Overall they are very solid defensively. They have good movement up front and have had 21 tackles for losses. That's pretty impressive at five per game."
(Would you like to see Jameill Showers run more?)
"I'd encourage Jameill to just pull the trigger sometimes and take off. Jameill would probably be the first to tell you that it was not his best game the other night. He was off on a few throws and decision wise we do some read option type plays and he made some misreads there. There were a couple of tackles for losses where you go `That was probably the O-line,' and really it was more of a bad read on the handoff. Experience is going to get him through that. The thing I don't worry about is I believe in the young man. He's as hard or harder on himself than I am. He's going to be the first one out there working hard to correct his mistakes. I'd really just like to see him relax and play ball and not press so much. He wants to do such a good job that he presses. At that position, sometimes you need to let it hang out and give yourself a better chance. He'll get experience with every game and he'll get better and better and better. He'll learn from each new experience. I'm excited about Jameill Showers though. I'm all for guys making mistakes, we just don't want them to make the same mistake twice. I'll make a ton of mistakes as a coach but I always promise the players I'll try not to make the same mistake twice. That's how I want this program to be. You're going to make mistakes, but learn from them and don't make them again."
Source: UTEP Athletics