Can UTEP Compete with Texas? Kugler Stays Realistic [VIDEO]
Thrill and Dread.
No, it's not the subtitle of the 23rd "Fast and Furious" sequel. Those would be the two emotions most UTEP fans felt as they watched the Miners' next opponent, Texas, pull off an amazing 50-47 double-overtime upset of No. 9 Notre Dame Sunday night.
The game itself had thrills aplenty for any football fan.
But, wait, Texas just hung half a hundred on Notre Dame? A team that averaged 146 yards and had nine touchdowns passing all of last season threw for 280 and two scores in one game?
Hopes of a Miner surprise this weekend just took a major blow.
Not that those hopes were realistic to begin with. But outside of the competitors themselves, sport is built on the fantasies of fanatics. Somebody has to buy the replica jerseys.
UTEP head coach Sean Kugler gets his teamwear free, except for the bright orange-tinted glasses. He doesn't get to wear those. Kugler was quick to acknowledge one of the basic differences between UT and UTEP -- depth. Everywhere.
When asked to compare a particular Longhorn to players he'd seen from his NFL coaching days, Kugler chuckled.
"These guys," he said of Texas, "they get top five recruiting classes. You could go down every position and name NFL guys on this team. Every position. Skill guys, linemen-wise. It's a loaded team."
Kugler also pulled no punches when asked to assess UTEP's chances at the UT system mothership this weekend.
"I'm going to be dead honest. We would probably have to play a perfect game for us to beat this team," said Kugler, who then acknowledged at least the mathematical possibility of an upset. "I'm not saying that can't be done, and I know our kids are going to go out and they're going to give it their all."
Probabilities aside, Kugler is looking forward to the challenge and knows his players are, too. UTEP players will certainly want to showcase their program. There isn't an offensive lineman who doesn't want to help the nation's leading rusher, Aaron Jones, keep his pole position.
"Very exciting for our players to have the opportunity to go play a Big XII team in front of a hundred thousand fans at Texas," said Kugler. "There's not a single kid in our program that got a recruiting letter from the University of Texas. I know personally we have a lot of competitive kids on our team...They need to come out and play with a chip on their shoulders."
So, you're saying there's a chance?
Well, no. But lose the dread and there can still be plenty of thrill.