Spring game showcases balanced attack for Miners
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In the spring football game the Miners showed the ability to move the ball effectively down the field as all three quarterbacks came up with scoring drives.
The starting quarterback going into the spring season, Ryan Metz, completed 12-of-17 passes for 94 yards through the day. Zach Greenlee, one of the quarterbacks fighting for the second spot at the position, went 4-of-7 for 43 yards and capped off one of his drives with a nine-yard keeper for the touchdown. Mark Torrez, the Eastwood High School alum, found Josh Weeks for a four-yard touchdown hookup. Torrez went 3-of-9 and finished his day with 20 passing yards.
“I thought Ryan was solid at moving the ball,” UTEP head coach Sean Kugler said. “Ryan has had an outstanding spring. He is a leader and he works hard. Zach Greenlee moved the ball well, and probably the guy that had a great spring; who didn’t surprise me is Mark Torrez from town. He’s got the juice, he can run, throw he’s got what you’re looking for in a quarterback. He is going to be fun to watch coming this fall.”
Metz and his connection with Kavika Johnson was on display in the part of the day, and Johnson ended the night with four catches for 29 yards. Terry Juniel, the redshirt junior wide receiver, totaled five catches for 47 yards.
UTEP juggled around a number of halfbacks throughout the scrimmage, since sophomore Quardraiz Wadley was sidelined with an injury. The starting running back spot is still up for grabs for the core.
Kugler transitioned Walter Dawn from wide receiver to the running back position and Dawn received the majority of the carries on Friday. He rushed for 29 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown.
The freshman from Wolfforth, Texas, Ronald Awatt ran nine times for 22 yards. Kevin Dove, UTEP’s sophomore hefty tailback, rushed six times for 21 yards.
“I think we’ve got talent there,” Kugler said. “My biggest concern there would be more protection when you have young guys running the ball, but we will be creative and make sure that we get that handled.”
Although the offense scored three times throughout the night, UTEP’s offense struggled to punch in the ball for the score on the many other occasions after they drove the ball down the field. When the segment of 12 plays to move the ball came up, the Miners went five straight drives without a touchdown.
And in the red zone portion of the scrimmage, the Miners had two of their three scores of the night coming from the drill, but could not find the end zone on the two other tries in the red zone.
The defense showed their grit even without some of their best players out, such as linebacker Alvin Jones, Dante Lovilette and Devin Cockrell. UTEP still recorded four sacks and some timely defensive stands.
Jerrell Brown, the sophomore defensive back, had himself a day with four tackles, one tackle for a loss, a pass break-up and one sack.
Overall, Kugler was impressed with his team’s work and how they ended their spring workouts. He said this team has a chip on their shoulders and are eager to prove themselves. Kugler compared this team to the 2014 squad that went 7-6 and went to the New Mexico Bowl game.
“Both sides competed well. Both sides of the ball have shown some tremendous flashes,” Kugler said. “We accomplished a lot this spring. I really like this team. This is the group of guys we are going to move forward with, and I feel good about that.”