UTEP Faces Manziel, Aggies Without A&M Transfer Showers
There was no mistaking the look on Sean Kugler's face. In his shortest interview to date -- 8-and-a-half-minutes of mostly awkward silence between brief, staccato answers -- the UTEP head coach's mug spoke volumes: cold, steely and pained.
Kugler saw what happened last Saturday and he knows what his Miners will face on national television (ESPN2) this Saturday.
UTEP will head to College Station, TX, to take on one of the most prolific offenses in the country this weekend in No. 12 Texas A&M. The Miners will play without starting QB Jameill Showers, who graduated from A&M last spring.
Showers dislocated his shoulder in a close game against the Rice Owls that was later blown wide open. UTEP trailed, 17-7, when true freshman RB Aaron Jones followed an 81-yard run to the 3-yard line with a fumble on second-and-goal, giving the ball to Rice at the Owls' 1.
Rice promptly marched 99 yards and scored; the Miners, says Kugler, failed to respond, and the 45-7 rout was on.
The beating was so thorough, the Owls trotted out 4-foot-9 walk-on RB Jayson Carter, probably figuring the Miners were sufficiently tenderized to reward their version of Rudy Ruettiger with his first collegiate game. Carter, who suffers from a genetic disorder that stunted his growth, ran once and gained a yard.
Next up, Johnny Manziel and the 12th-ranked Aggies. UTEP is a 45.5-point underdog and will have to play without Showers, who transferred out of A&M after graduation when Manziel took his spot atop the Texas A&M depth chart, then won the Heisman Trophy.
UTEP's staff is being tight-lipped about Showers' injury, but Kugler intimated that it could be a lengthy recovery for the junior. He also said he felt worst for Showers, who will miss an unprecedented opportunity to showcase his skills to his alma mater.
Kugler did say Showers will accompany the team to College Station and represent his team as a captain at Kyle Field.