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The Q&A: Texas vs UTEP

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NCAA Football: New Mexico Bowl-Utah State at Texas El Paso Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Q&A, where we take on all the hottest topics around the Longhorn football team and preview the week’s upcoming contest.

As always, these are real questions from real fake Longhorn fans. If you’re a real real Longhorn fan, post your queries to the comments section and we’ll do our best to get them answered.

Q: How about that Notre Dame game, huh?

A: Pretty hard-hitting question there, Mr. Lauer. But yeah...that was awesome.

Q: Oh, so you want hard-hitting, huh? Is it true that Shooting From the Hip didn’t go up until 3:00 AM because you were briefly detained by campus police following a nude Jet Terry airplane run around Littlefield Fountain?

A: No comment.

Q: It was great to see that kind of a team win following all the pre-game drama. Can you sum up the three-week long starting QB kerfluffle in a single image?

A:

Q: How about a gif?

A:

Q: OK smart guy, how about a haiku?

A:

Horn fans in panic

Coach Gilbert knew the plan, though:

Fire the Trebuechele.

Q: What was the most encouraging part of the Notre Dame game for you?

A: It’s pretty tough to narrow down. You hoped you’d see the kind of poise and accuracy from Buechele that he showed in the Spring Game, but he surpassed the wildest of expectations in his first live-fire college action in front of 100,000 fans. The OL played a solid game - and would grade out really well on any sane, context- and expectations-adjusted scale against a manly Notre Dame front - and they should keep moving forward if they can shake off the injury bug. I’d say the most encouraging aspect relative to expectations was the play of the defensive front. Chris Nelson played a legitimately good game as a 1-technique, Paul Boyette had some nice stack-and-shed moments and The Poonatrator was consistently disruptive. ND’s top-line rushing numbers looked good, but strip out the blown tackle from Naashon Hughes on the game’s second play and they only got off for 3.3 yards a pop including some nice scrambles from Kizer. If we’ve got a nose and two 4i guys who can disrupt with movement and shed blocks rather than getting wired to them, we can be effective against the run ahead of schedule even when we’re lining up in the 3-3 stack.

Q: OK, what was the most discouraging part of the game?

A: It’s hard to be too upset with anything coming out of that one. The D had some unsightly moments, but 35 offensive points allowed in thirteen possessions against an offense with six or so future NFL players on it isn’t a dreadful showing by any means - especially since one of those possessions started on Texas’ six yard line. We definitely have to find ourselves a plus one-on-one pass rusher or two (not including Malik blitzing off the edge) - there’s only so much you can do in manufacturing blitz pressure before some savvy spread offenses will make you pay (as ND did with the screen game). I’m also going to look for teams to keep attacking us with the deep dig/skinny post route that can murder Cover Three corners playing outside leverage if you’re not getting smart/fast/aggressive/disruptive play from the deep safety. I don’t think the guy who can give us that kind of play has seen the field yet.

Q: Would you draw up a few more X and O diagrams if you weren’t kinda carpal tunneled from this week’s pieces?

A: Yeah.

Q: As much fun as it is to bask in the afterglow, let’s turn our attention to this week’s opponent. How do you think Texas will fare against the Miners?

A: To be honest with you, I’m a little more concerned about the safety issue than anything else. I understand that a couple of games each year are glorified exhibitions, but when kids aren’t even eighteen years old they run a real risk of getting seriously hurt out there.

Q:

A: Oh, shit, really? Hang on a second... * frantically attempts to pull up the opponent preview section from Thinking Texas Football 2016 *

Well folks, a mea culpa is in order here at the ol’ Q&A. We might have been a tad bit guilty of over-celebrating the Notre Dame win and under-preparing for Saturday’s opponent, the Fighting (Mining? Tunneling? Ore-extracting? Canary-slaying? We really should have looked this shit up) UTEP Miners.

Fortunately, we’ve managed to bring in some expert analysis to help us break down the Miners and what we might see from them on Saturday. We’d like to give a warm Q&A welcome to Jack Chaqueta, a UTEP follower and blogger who has rightly been labeled the most famous fan in the program’s history. Jack first came in the public eye during ABC’s broadcast of the Texas-UTEP matchup in El Paso in 2008:

Since then, this superfan has maintained a firm grip on everything related to UTEP Athletics.

Q: Jack, welcome to the Q&A - it’s great of you to take the time to chat with the enemy, as it were.

JC: My pleasure. I do have to say I was a little chafed at how bad y’all beat us back in 2008 and ‘09, but I’m happy to lend a hand.

Q: It’s much appreciated. Let’s start out with your head coach, Sean Kugler. What are your thoughts on Coach Kugler and the way he’s building the UTEP program?

JC: I like Coach Kugler a lot. We’d been down for a long time before he got here and I think he’s building things the right way. We kind of struggled last year with a lot of injuries, but I really believe he’s the guy to take us back to the mountaintop.

Q: I can see why you’d be anxious to get there. Coach Kugler, like Charlie Strong at Texas, made some staff changes this offseason. He brought in Brent Pease, former OC at Florida and Boise State, to run the offense while former SMU and Hawaii DC Tom Mason handles the defense. What do you think of criticisms that Coach Kugler has been too hands-off on both sides of the ball?

JC: I don’t agree with that - I think Coach Kugler is a really hands-on guy. He knew what he wanted on each side of the ball, reached out and grabbed the guys he wanted.

Q: Well the early returns on offense were certainly promising last week. UTEP ran all over New Mexico State to the tune of 38 points and over 500 yards of total offense including fifteen explosive plays. Brent Pease took a lot of heat during his stint at Florida - what did you think of his play calling debut at UTEP?

JC: I think he mixed things up well, and I was glad to see that what he told the team came true. Coach Pease believes that if you just keep grinding and grinding away, sooner or later you’ll be rewarded with some explosives.

Q: Obviously a big part of the offense’s success was due to running back Aaron Jones and his 249 rushing yards. Did this future NFL back do it all by himself?

JC: Oh, no, not at all. Jones has speed and power and elusiveness but nobody can get the job done without at least some open space to work with...

Q: One of the key advantages of cargo shorts.

JC: Huh? Anyway, the offensive line had a great game. They’re big and experienced guys and they’re buying in to what Coach Kugler is teaching. He’s a former offensive lineman himself, and all offseason he kept reminding them to play together. He even gave them a motto: “Five fingers make a fist.”

Q: Among other things. Let’s switch gears to the defense - you guys held NMSU to just three points in the first half before surrendering a couple of late scores. Is this defense starting to turn the corner under Tom Mason?

JC: The guys up front are pretty solid, and they did a great job of making it tough for New Mexico State to run. Having nine juniors or seniors on the DL with game experience really comes in handy.

Q: The secondary was a major concern last year - is Coach Mason starting to turn that around?

JC: It seemed like every time an opposing QB dropped back to pass last year that it was a white-knuckle moment, you know? There’s still not a lot of talent back there, but Coach Mason is working with them on not getting beat over the top. They can play soft at times, but hopefully we’ll see them really stiffen up in the clutch.

Once again, thanks to Jack for taking the time. We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of The Q&A, and if you’ve got Q’s then Q away and we’ll A ASAP.