GBH: Jameill Showers: great quarterback, or greatest quarterback?
MR: Great Quarterback, it seems as if the coaches have had somewhat of a leash on him as the play calling has been super conservative in parts where the ball should be in his hands to make the play and also run heavy which does not allow him to be the "greatest quarterback" that he has the potential to be. When I saw him for the first time in camp I was just blown away with the athletic ability and accuracy and just the overall way he carries himself as a person. You can definitely tell right away he is a top level athlete and person, I think UTEP is lucky to have a QB of that caliber, hope he comes back soon and has a banner year next year, he has worked so hard and became the leader on this team.
GBH: What's your favorite memory "up on the hill"?
MR: I'm sure you're looking for the "handy" answer referring to the events that were captured during the Texas game in 2008. But to me the most special memory was in 2000 when UTEP beat Rice in the Sun Bowl and won the WAC championship. The Sun Bowl was packed and so was the hill, it just really showed the unity and pride of El Paso as it was announced that no one would be allowed to watch the game up there but police just could not stop the flow of people and it brought a little extra noise for that championship moment in UTEP Football history. After the game the Miner Maniacs tore down both goal posts and carried them up the side of the Sun Bowl and tossed them over by the hill.
GBH: What is Mike Price's legacy at UTEP?
MR: Well I think by most fans his legacy will be known for great offenses and two top level quarterbacks, and probably the "golden era" of modern era Miner Football, though he did have a streak of losing seasons. When he took the Miners to back-to-back bowl appearances in his first two seasons it really made UTEP Football a huge attraction in El Paso after an 1990's era that said your were successful if you were able to win two games. Might I add most of the previous regime's players were on those bowl teams. He did bring in the Mine Shaft tradition where the players enter the Sun Bowl through the stands before games and it is pretty neat when the Sun Bowl is packed. Though to the other half of Miner Nation will say it is seven years of high pre-season hopes and hype thinking UTEP would turn that corner into a consistent contender, just to fizzle out in most November's to finish mediocre in middle or bottom of the conference. With the revealing by current coach Sean Kugler of the past in-balance of the handling of scholarship distribution on both sides of the ball, I would say in my opinion that it is a respectable legacy but one that and least for the next couple of seasons is not something to be totally proud of.
GBH: You guys have a couple of game-changers in true freshmen Autrey Golden and Aaron Jones. Has there been a considerable upswing in recruiting with the recent coaching change?
MR: I think the upswing at this point is Kugler is going after the best of the best and not settling for 3 to 2 star players to just fill a roster. Recently he was after a four star corner out of California, now that guy ended up giving UCLA a verbal commit, but to even have that kid come down to El Paso for an official visit is a huge upswing and gives you hope that things can turnaround. Kugler announced that the plan for recruiting the 2014 class is to be heavy on transfer and JUCO defensive players, as he has only 18 scholarship players on defense right now, and has had seven freshman see action on defense this year that have became apart of the rotation. I've heard the names on that list for 2014 as far as who they are after and it follows the same trend of going after guys UTEP normally would not recruit under Price, and Kugler's NFL connections also will play a role as far as a pitching himself to recruits. What he was able to bring in just in his first year has been impressive as well, guys like Jones, fullback Darrin Laufasa, and defenders Devin Cockrell and DaShone Smith have all contributed heavily and are good players to build around. It will take time but Kugler knows what he is doing fans just need to be patient.
GBH: What's up with Sean Kugler's Wikipedia picture? He looks like Christoph Waltz trying to hide from paparazzi. Can't you guys sneak a UTEP pic in there?
MR: Yeah good point, it honestly looks like Tom Selleck with a dyed beard coaching Kanye West in Any Given Sunday 2, we will see what we can do about that, good looking out. It doesn't even look like Kugler to me, maybe I can ask him about that on his next presser I really don't think it is him.
GBH: What type of QB is Sullivan, and how does he compare to Showers?
MR: Blaire will tuck and run quicker than Jameill will for starters, he has a stronger arm as far as the deep ball and can also move around in the pocket, but there will a huge drop off at that spot just as far as presence and leadership goes. Jameill is so smart and seemed to have a nice hold of the offense so far, and was really improving when the coaches allow him do his thing. Jameill has that Alpha Dog competitiveness about him and I think it has made guys like Aaron Jones, Jordan Leslie and the offensive line raise their level of play and become better players. I just do not see Sullivan having that same impact, though its not the lack of physical talent on Sullivan he makes a lot of mental mistakes. In practice I have noticed him struggle mightily adjusting from the spread offense to a two back, pro-style look. He is a much better as a down field field passer as noted, and struggles with 5-9 yard stuff UTEP likes to do now, where Jameill is great at those things and can also drop the bomb as well. He is very capable of putting up yards through the air with Ian Hamilton and Jordan Leslie, and by making plays with his feet, but I'm just not sure he ready to take fully takeover and make the same impact Showers has made so far.