“No name”-Ryan Metz comes to the forefront in Miners first win


Michaela Román

Quarterback Ryan Metz led the Miners to the game winning drive in overtime to defeat the Aggies 50-47 in Las Cruces.

Javier Cortez, Sports Editor

Down by 14 points, eight minutes into the third quarter of the Battle of I-10 against the New Mexico State Aggies this past Saturday, things could have not been worse for the UTEP football team.

Their best player, Aaron Jones, was relegated to a pair of crutches. Their starting quarterback, Mack Leftwich, was knocked out of the game due to a vicious hit, and their no-name backup quarterback just threw an interception for a touchdown.

Fast forward two hours later, and that no-name quarterback was surrounded by a scrum of El Paso media, being pelted with never-ending question about his incredible performance in the fourth quarter.

That no-name quarterback was Ryan Metz, an Andress High School alum, who is now the Miners’ new starting quarterback.

In two quarters, Metz completed 15-of-19 passes for 218 passing yards, with four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). Metz finished with a quarterback rating of 98.0, which is the highest QBR of any quarterback in the Sean Kugler era.

“I think a lot of people were not sure (when Ryan came onto the field),” said senior linebacker Jimmy Musgrave. “It was his first time coming into the game. But once he took control of the offense, it was amazing to see.”

More impressive then his final stats, was the way Metz transformed the UTEP offense. Known for their slow and methodical approach, the Miners looked quick and explosive, whereas the “old” offense looked bland and predictable.

Despite the change in offense, there were still some detractors.

“I think if Leftwich was there, he would’ve thrown it just as well,” said NMSU head coach Doug Martin.

NMSU defensive back Jacob Nwangwa added: “I don’t think he was hard to defend in the air.”

The Aggies bitter post-game statements most likely stem from the fact that the Miners are their main rivals, nevertheless the statements were off base. The NMSU secondary was under constant threat once Metz took over.

In the 11 pass attempts; Leftwich never threw a pass of 15-yards or more. Metz threw the ball down the field consistently and accurately. The Miners scored 28 points on offense in the second half, all through Metz.

Three weeks ago, coach Kugler said that the Miners would use all four quarterbacks over the course of the season; Mack Leftwich, Kavika Johnson, Garrett Simpson and Metz.

Coming out of fall camp in Ruidoso, Leftwich was the prototypical game manager, Johnson was the all-around athlete, and Simpson and Metz were the pocket passers. All four quarterbacks bring something to the table, but Metz separated himself from the pack with his clutch play in the fourth quarter.

Twice the Miners found themselves down by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and twice Metz erased the deficit. But his last two drives in regulation were the most impressive.

A three-play, 75-yard drive cut the Aggie lead to seven with three minutes left. Followed by a pivotal stop by the UTEP defense, which was one of the few positives for the Miners on that side of the ball.

The Miners got the ball back down by a touchdown, with 2:01 left on the game clock, no timeouts and 98 long yards to the Aggie end zone. What came next was truly impressive. Metz drove the Miners down the field to tie the game in an eight-play, 98-yard drive, in one minute and 19 seconds.

“Unbelievable for a freshman,” Kugler said. “He called his own plays during both of those drives and took the offense right down the field, conserved time, called plays that he was comfortable with. The play at the end of (regulation), that was a beauty because I probably would’ve never called that, but he did. It took a lot of (guts) on his part to do it.”

The last play Kugler was referring to was a quarterback draw by Metz, who scored on an eight-yard run. Metz capped the night off with six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Cedrick Lang in overtime to win the game.

UTEP players after the game used an assortment of adjectives to describe Metz on the 98-yard drive; calling it insane, crazy and amazing.

In the last two drives and in overtime, Metz was 11-for-15 for 154 yards, with three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).

Although Metz was responsible for the vast majority of the Miners’ success in the second half, the redshirt freshman was humble as ever after the game.

“I think we knew that it was all business,” Metz said referring to the last two drives of regulation. “These guys just responded, and I mean the receivers made me look good because trust me not every pass was perfect, but these guys bailed me out.”

Metz might not be good enough to completely turn the Miners’ season around because of the loss of Aaron Jones and the struggling defense, but he does solve the quarterback dilemma. Come Saturday and for the remainder of the season, the Miners have found their new starting quarterback.

Javier Cortez may be reached at [email protected]