University of New Mexico vs. UTEP
Complete postgame quotes
"Alright guys, you saw the same thing I saw. We started out wobbly. On offense in the first half, really all started with the snaps. For whatever reason early in the game, we were just tippy toeing around. Just kind of wobbly. And offense, we had a lot of mistakes in the first half, a lot of mistakes. Just things that surprise you that happened.
Going in you ask are we gonna be better on defense? First half, definitely not. Are we going to be able to throw it? Take advantage of big plays? Definitely not.
We had Reece wide open on the wheel route early in the game for probably a 60-yard touchdown. Couldn't get the ball there. Down 24-7 I think it was at the half, unacceptable performance in the first half. Their head coach got their guys ready to play and our head coach here didn't get the guys ready to play; it's that simple.
Second half, I think we showed a little bit more the potential we have. Really cease the momentum of the game. They couldn't stop us in the second half. We got a couple stops on defense, obviously the fourth and goal. And then there at the end we get a three and out. We made two critical mistakes, the game’s 24-24 … we had momentum, there’s just a little bit of difference between Cole Gautsche running that triple option and Clayton Mitchell. We fumbled the ball on third down. That's the difference between winning and losing right there.
We put the ball on the ground and at the end of the game, Gamblin back there, on the punt return. And honestly, I take responsibility for that. He's a young guy; I wouldn't call timeout in that situation. But he was a little bit late getting out there, he was a little discombobulated and he fumbled the ball.
Heck of a game, two evenly matched teams. Give them a lot of credit, they're a big strong offensive football team with a couple really good backs. They've got a veteran quarter back they got big receivers I think they're a good offensive team. I think they've made some improvements on defense. I think we have the potential to make some improvements on defense. But the first half was really disappointing. We're 0-1; we've got Arizona State coming in next weekend. But more important than that, we've got to improve. So I'm disappointed but I'm not discouraged. We just have to get better. Cole pulled the other hamstring, which is a shame. We were really at the point where they couldn't stop us. And then Cole goes out of the game, we struggled just a little bit Clayton Mitchell took the sack which was, you just don't take a sack at the end of the game like that. Throw the ball away, but we played hard. We came out in the second half and took it to them, we just made too many mistakes and they deserved to win that game."
"You put your heels on the 10-yard line. Obviously, we’re gonna get the ball back and try to go win the game. You don't want to get pinned down inside. I think it was probably about the 7-yard line. Again, I take responsibility for that. It's his first time really returning punts for us. I'd hate to let that ball roll down the 1-yard line or something. The kid did a heck of a job punting that ball. He put the nose of the ball down, and no one feels worse than Dameon Gamblin right now. No one feels worse than Jhurell Presley; he came up during the end apologized to me. And Dameon Gamblin, I told the team you know that's really the coach's fault. Not his fault. He stood up and said, 'Coach, quit it, it's my fault'. But you don't get ‘em back. Just hopefully you can learn from those situations and move on. Put your heels at the 10-yard line, you don't back up. Sometimes when that balls floating up there, you have to make a decision. It’s unfortunate, I'd like to see what happened at the end of that game."
On team being wobbly:
"I don't know … it’s disappointing. They had something to do with it. I give them credit. They are a big, physical offensive team. And they've got a quarterback that's played a lot of football. We had some busts early in the game, which I thought we would on defense. We had a couple little things, the couple passes they hit on us in the first half actually were busts. We got two sophomore corners out there and Daniel Henry played a lot. No excuse. We just couldn't get any confidence. We couldn't get any rhythm on offense. We could not get any rhythm.
And honestly, the part on offense was the snaps. The snaps were high; then they were low. We really didn't get our cleats in the ground until the second half. But I don't know why; I really don't."
On Cranston Jones:
"Not good, it’s an elbow injury; we'll know more. I'm not sure exactly what it is. Cranston and Cole, and Wiggins took a shot in the thigh but came back and played some."
On the wobbliness in the first half…
We didn’t come out the way we should have. It started with me. I had a few bad snaps and those kind of things can kill a play right from the start. There were a couple of little things that we just messed up execution-wise. You just hate to see a start like that put you behind so much. But, overall, I’m just proud of the way that we came back and fought and fought hard at the end.
On the case of nerves in the first half…
I think a lot of the times I’ve seen it so many of these years before, you get so excited before the game and all you want to do is play hard sometimes you forget about the little things. You forget about technique and stuff like that. That happens. I know that’s something I should have learned from by now and something I promise will never happen again.
On the difference in the second half…
I think when we came out as an offense, I was in the huddle and I was telling everybody just to calm down, just stay focused. I feel like, as an offense, you can’t go out there with your head on fire. It’s a lot more things that we have to think about. Once we stayed calm and we thought about our assignment, everything was clicking just left and right. That’s the one thing we need to come out with the next game at the very beginning, is just to stay focused and not get so hyped up that you forget about your assignment and your technique.
On the emotions after falling short on the comeback…
I can say that games like these definitely hurt the most just because you’re right there and you can almost taste and smell and feel the victory. And just like any moment, it can just be taken away just like that. And that’s what really hurts the most. You hate every single loss, you want to win every game, but those ones right there, they definitely do hurt you a lot.
On the wobbliness in the first half vs. the turnaround in the second half…
I feel like we definitely came out a lot better in the second half and we just need to have that juice the whole game and have that enthusiasm. That’s one thing we didn’t have in the first half.
On potential nerves in the first half…
I don’t really think it’s a nerve thing or anything like that. I think it’s just a mental side where guys just need to be ready to play.
On disappointment over falling short…
Yeah, I’m definitely disappointed. We didn’t get the win, but I definitely thought we showed a good fight towards the end and in that second half. Like I said, we just need to come out and do that the whole game. We can’t just wait until the second half every game.
On changes in the second half…
Coaches talked to us and told us we have to go out there and play like it’s a new half and bring the enthusiasm this time. We were back on our heels a little bit. And I think guys realized that and we stepped it up out there and put up a fight. But like I said, we need to do that the whole game, including myself. I need to bring the energy to all the other guys. I feel like if we did that, we’d be able to pull it out.
UTEP Coach Sean Kugler
On .. A year ago, do you lose that game?
“You know, I didn’t say that but last year’s team, I’m not sure if they wouldn’t have found a way to lose that game. This year’s team, even when New Mexico started getting the momentum back in the fourth quarter, looking around those sidelines, everyone was focused. Those kids weren’t going lose that game; they were going to find a way to win it.”
Talk about the stops in the second half and the confidence boost that is….
“They got a lot of yards on offense but I love the energy that our defense was playing. They did pump some big runs but the defense was flying around and got a lot more drive stops and made plays. When the game was in the balance, they made the sack and got an interception. It was a true team win. Special teams came up with a huge play at the end of the game to give us the ball in enemy territory. The offense pounded it in. I was very proud of the young offensive line. There were four guys that never started before. That was their first game as collegiate players. They got after it and they played physical the way we expect them to play. I’m just proud of the entire team. They have worked since day one and they went out and displayed it. To go out on the road and get a win against a quality opponent was a great win for us.”
On Aaron Jones…
“Aaron had to have had at least 240-250 yards. I think he is a special back. I think we have a bunch of quality backs. I thought Nathan Jeffrey ran great tonight as well. Again, the offensive line up front did an outstanding job creating holes.”
On changes during the second half…
“We had two nice drives going but then we had the errant snap that really killed us on the one drive. The next drive we took right down the field and they stemmed late on the front, a play that we had been running well all night, and they stopped us. Those things happen. My hat goes off to them. They really came out and fought in the second half. I really admire New Mexico, the way they fought and I admire our guys the way that they really stuck in the game and found a way to win it.
On Jameel Erving…
“Jameel is just so sound. He is very smart. He makes the right decisions most of the time. He understands the game. If we get efficient play from him and the running backs run the way that they run, I really feel good about where our offense if headed.”
On confidence leading into Texas Tech…
“Any win gives you confidence but to go on the road and win against a quality opponent, especially a rivalry. The kids are energized. I know they are super excited to go home and play in front of their home folks. I hope that El Paso really packs the place and really makes it very uncomfortable for Texas Tech next week with crowd noise.”
On kick coverage unit…
“Kick coverage unit was outstanding. They got the best in the country. The coverage units were outstanding, the kickers, the punters, I thought everyone was on point. Special teams tonight was excellent.”
On the defense…
They made some plays. They got some guys that can play. That is part of football. You have to like to play; you have to want to play with energy. I really like the young group. I always say the offensive line and the defensive line are inexperienced but you know what, puppies bite. They have to get out there and they have to play. It was great for those guys to get out there and get the experience.”