Earlier today, UTEP announced that Kavika Johnson would start in Austin this Saturday against the Texas Longhorns. UTEP head coach Sean Kugler chose to rest Zack Greenlee, who is recovering from an MCL injury that he suffered in the first quarter of last weekend's season opening win against NMSU. It's a decision that could benefit the Miners for the long haul, especially the Conference USA season.

"Kavika will start at quarterback," coach Sean Kugler told the El Paso Times earlier today. "Zach is out a week, possibly two, but we'll get him back, it's not season-ending. We're very confident in Kavika and Ryan Metz. They'll get the job done. It went neck-and-neck, down-to-the-wire in camp."

Greenlee played the majority of the NMSU game and finished 15-27 for 229 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions. When the Miners added the former Fresno State transfer, he was not immediately declared the starting quarterback. Greenlee won the battle in fall camp, despite Johnson and Ryan Metz performing so well, Coach Kugler did not decide on a starter until the week before the NMSU game. He possesses a strong arm, good accuracy, and pocket presence. UTEP will need him healthy in time for the conference opener September 24th versus Southern Miss.

Steve Kaplowitz.
Steve Kaplowitz.

Kugler's decision gives Johnson a golden opportunity. The sophomore from Las Cruces Mayfield High was impressive in limited action last season as a true freshman. Against NMSU, he ran three times for 15 yards and also caught two passes as a receiver. His ability to run the football out of the wildcat often overshadows his passing ability. Johnson has a strong arm and his dual threat ability at the quarterback position will be a challenge for a Texas Longhorns defense who is already concerned with stopping star junior running back Aaron Jones. Metz will be the backup for the Miners on Saturday, although Coach Kugler did not commit to rotating the two quarterbacks against Texas.

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