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March 7, 2013

Football a Work In Progress

EL PASO, Texas - The first day of practice for the football team brought nervousness, errors and most importantly, a wide-open race for starting positions.

The second practice Tuesday brought much of the same feeling as the first as players and coaches both undergo a transformation and are clearly a work in progress.

Add in intensity, the most glaring difference in the new iteration of the UTEP Miner football team, and you immediately notice everyone on the field working at a similar, fast-paced rate. There is a speed and desire to accomplish everything with a high level of concentration.

"It will be like that at every practice," head coach Sean Kugler said plainly. "We expect a certain level of intensity and work ethic and we won't deviate from that."

One can only assume the expectation then is not only to have an intense practice at all times, but if that is too happen, player must then be experts at the little things when they are on the field.

"The intensity has been very high," Germard Reed said. "Everyone is running around, there's a lot of movement. It's more about effort and technique. You have to be perfect with your technique first."

Thus, with the cool breeze of the early morning, coaches and players made their way to Glory Field and without skipping a beat, everyone got to work as if it was the twentieth practice and not the second.

It looked as if the team had already addressed some of the issues related to first practice jitters.

"I thought, for the first day, we really did a good job assignment-wise," Kugler said. "There really wasn't a lot of balls on the ground but there were too many false starts, too many alignment errors. But they were first-day tings that we need to be better with."

One of the issues players will be dealing with during the spring practices is the introduction of a new staff in addition to a new playbook. There is an inherent learning cure that will have to be dealt with.

"It's pretty difficult but overall if you're a good football player and you want to learn the playbook, you're going to learn it right away," Reed said. "Some of the things we are doing is still the same, it's just the terminology that's different."

The coaches are aware of the curve, and know the challenge. Expectations are still high for everyone to master the playbook.

"Any time you do something new, it's a challenge and it's a change," Kugler said. "These guys have been working hard at it and we expect them to learn (the playbook) fully."

Starting Friday, the real test will begin as the Miners will be in pads. The competition for starting spots will get underway.

"It's all about everyone competing and trying to get each other better," Reed said. "If we don't do that, we're not going to be in the position we want to be in. We don't want to be in a bad hole and be 3-9 again so we all need to compete, fight and make each other better.

Chris Avila can be reached at show@minerillustrated.com or you can follow him on Twitter at @chrisavila_01. Make sure to follow Miner Illustrated on Twitter at @minermaniac for more up-to-date news and information about UTEP.



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