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Miners show growth in spring scrimmage

Angel Ulloa
Miners ended their second week of practice with their first scrimmage in a game-like situation.

The second week of spring football came to a close as the offense and defense scrimmaged for the first time on Friday, March 25.

While the Miners used an up-tempo offense, the defense showcased defensive coordinator Tom Mason’s 3-4 scheme for the first time.

There were tough plays on both ends and the scrimmage served as a growing point for the team going into their third week of practice.

“It was a good, physical scrimmage,” head coach Sean Kugler said.  “I thought there was really a lot of good give and take. I thought the offense moved the ball well, they only punched it in once.”

One of the biggest storylines on offense is the three-way starting quarterback battle, which was showcased right off the bat. Ryan Metz took the lead as the play caller on the first drive for the Miners. Then Kavika Johnson and Mack Leftwich traded off roles at quarterback during the next series.

“I thought they were very solid today,” Kugler said. “We had a period there in the red zone period, where we had some snap issues, but that was due more to a young center that hasn’t done it before. I thought they handled everything—the huddle, the communication for the first time—and (they) handled the two-minute red zone things very well, so I was very pleased with the quarterbacks and I have been pleased with their progress throughout the spring.”

To finish the day, the three quarterbacks totaled 249 yards and three touchdowns. Metz, who completed 11 of 15 passes for 129 yards, threw for more yards than Leftwich (90 yards) and Johnson (30 yards) combined. On his first drive, Metz completed his first eight passes and drove his team to the red zone.

In a single-minute drill, Metz drove the offense 70 yards, which resulted in a six-yard touchdown pass to tailback Treyvon Hughes. Kugler commended Metz’ on executing in a “tough situation.”

“It (the scrimmage) was a blast,” Metz said. “I’m loving getting comfortable with the new system and with coach (Brent) Pease—his attention to detail, he wants everything perfect. With the up-tempo, I’m having a blast out there.”

Pease, the new offensive coordinator of the Miners, showed glimpses of his more fast-paced offense in the scrimmage. In different occasions, the Miners called quick-huddle plays, rotated multiple packages with the three quarterbacks and lined up more receivers on the scrimmage mark.

“We won’t be up-tempo all the time, but we do have different tempos and will mix them up,” Kugler said. “We’ll try to keep the defense off guard with personnel tempos.”

The three gunslingers on offense saw a multitude of looks downfield throughout Friday’s scrimmage. Returning receivers such as Jaquan White, Cole Freytag and Warren Reddix all had exceptional catches, while they also mixed things up with tight ends and running backs such as Augie Touris, TK Powell and Hughes. Up-and-coming wideouts who made an impact in the scrimmage included Tyler Batson, Terry Juniel and Eddie Sinegal.

Freytag (five catches, 71 yards) and White (five catches, 52 yards) led the troops in receiving yards.

“(The offense) is great,” White said. “It’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of confusing the defense. Right now, it’s just a great offense to be in.”

One of the most significant milestones in the scrimmage was running back Hughes’ performance. He caught three passes for 50 yards, two of them resulting in touchdowns. He had a powerful 48-yard run on a fourth-and-one drill.

Hughes and TK Powell will be fighting for the backup running back position behind Aaron Jones in the fall.

“Today, he (Hughes) took a big step forward—I thought he did a lot of good things,” Kugler said. “Treyvon did a nice job today running and catching.”

On the defensive end, coach Mason revealed the 3-4 defense against the offense for the first time.

“I think we’re progressing every day,” outside linebacker Brian Madunezim said. “I’m excited for what we have planned for the future. We have a lot of things to install—a lot more new plays. All we have to do is execute, make plays, have good ball awareness—I think I would be very disappointed if we lose one game this year.”

The progression Madunezim referred to was the defense making significant stops throughout the scrimmage. Christian Harper and Jorge Rodriguez recorded solo sacks. Silas Firstley and Lawrence Montegut had two tackles for losses and Dashone Smith contributed with a pass deflection.

“We still have a lot of things to clean up, but the defense is coming along great,” Montegut said. “Everyone is starting to learn the defense. Everyone is starting to work as one, as a team.”

Although the defense showed strength, they had a setback when safety Devin Cockrell suffered an injury. In 2013, Cockrell was the team’s leading tackler and was sidelined last season due to a knee injury.

“I don’t know yet (about the extent of the injury),” Kugler said.  “I’ll have to wait to see. I’m frustrated for that young man because he worked hard to come back from his knee injury last year. Hopefully it’s nothing major.”

The spring football game is slated in three weeks at 7 p.m. on April 15 at the Sun Bowl.

Adrian Broaddus may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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Miners show growth in spring scrimmage