Kugler Names Metz Starting QB, Lauds Miners’ Big Win at NMSU
This was different. Sean Kugler was all smiles and proud papa at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, and it wasn't just the Kiki's talking. He had an amazing UTEP win and a new starting quarterback to talk about.
The first couple of weeks during his Monday pressers, UTEP's head coach had that face. You know -- the pro wrestler's visage, all jaw and brimstone and determination.
One important exception: pro wrestlers are acting. Taking a look at that face, you get the impression his WWE dopplegangers, Goldberg and Stone Cold Steve Austin, would have cleared a path for Kugler.
But Monday, Kugler was joking about how the Miners' offensive linemen had their heads turned by a freshman second-string quarterback who called his own number in the huddle, then scored the game-tying touchdown in an epic 50-47 overtime win over New Mexico State.
A veteran of many Battles of I-10 himself as a player, assistant coach and head coach, Kugler couldn't remember another game like it. He lauded the never-say-die attitude his team showed. He crowed about what that team overcame.
And he named Ryan Metz UTEP's starting quarterback.
It's not really that dramatic a pronouncement. Former starter Mack Leftwich will be spending weeks recuperating from a severe concussion before he's even allowed near a practice field and Garrett Simpson is still hobbled by a severe ankle sprain.
But Kugler pointed out he's a firm believer in riding the hot hand, and there was no hand hotter than Metz's right one Saturday night.
He also stated what everyone saw Saturday -- UTEP has a quarterback capable of stretching the field.
Kugler said he truly does want an offense balanced between running and passing, but a back like Aaron Jones (and the lack of a signal caller who could throw the ball like Metz did Saturday -- my comment, not his) tilts the scales toward working the run.
There is still much work to be done and Kugler knows it. UTEP's secondary is a No Smoking zone because it remains highly flammable, but the return of injured veterans is beginning to help.
Another question is what Metz will do with the starter's job now that he has it. But Kugler sees the former Andress Eagle's poise and growth.
And that red-hot hand.