Price Comments on 1st Game of Year, Injuries, and Starters
“We had a semi-scrimmage, mock game on Saturday night and had two injuries which were really bad for us. Aubrey Alexius, a linebacker, pulled a quad muscle running down on the kickoff and [offensive lineman] James Nelson sprained an ankle, but it’s a high ankle sprain so he might be out for a month. He was one of our best offensive linemen. We’re probably going to go into the Stony Brook game with three of our offensive linemen out. Nelson, James Robinson and Jerel Watkins probably will not play. Two of them will probably be back for SMU, but that’s not a good thing for us to have happen. That’s the negative. Otherwise everybody else is pretty much raring to go and getting ready to play.
“We worked on Stony Brook last week and they’re kind of an unknown right now because we don’t know what kind of a defense they’re going to run. We’re assuming it will be similar to Rhode Island scheme-wise, since that’s where their new defensive coordinator came from, but we do have tape of last year’s games. Offensively they show a lot of variety. They run first and pass second. That should be a challenge for us to stop the run.
(On the kicking game)
“Our kicking game looks solid. Our punter, Ian Campbell, although we don’t want to use him too much, is punting real well. I think he averaged 53 yards a punt in camp and our scrimmages. And he’s a real good directional punter too. We have a new kickoff guy in Steve Valadez. He’s putting it in the end zone about every time. Valadez kicks the ball better, higher and further than Dakota Warren.
(On being ready for the season to start) “I think we’re kind of worn out attacking each other. There has been a little friction out there in practice. Last week guys were getting kind of bored with hitting each other and getting grouchy and hitting after the whistle and things like that.”
(On the defense)
“I think our defense is really playing good. Saturday night wasn’t an indication because we didn’t let them tackle. I was trying to get away from injuries and it didn’t work. I guess if you don’t practice you don’t get anybody injured. I think we’re a really aggressive, vicious, hard-hitting defense. I’m really looking forward to seeing our defense play.”
(On injuries affecting the offensive line) “Until the three guys got hurt, our offensive line was very physical and we could run the football. We should be OK one-deep. When we get into the second team we could have difficulties. James Martin will be starting at left tackle and he was at Mt. SAC with Nick [Lamaison] and Mike [Edwards], so that’s three guys off that 14-0 team starting for our offense. That’s kind of neat.”
(On his recruiting philosophy)
“We still like to recruit athletes and put them where they belong. I’ve always had that as a philosophy. We got ourselves in a position where we had to recruit offensive linemen this year, and we did that with the three junior college kids who came in to play for us. [James] Martin’s going to start, [James] Robinson probably would’ve started and [David] Grubaugh is a backup at tackle.”
(On dealing with injuries last season and in Saturday’s mock game) “It’s really a concern for me. Everything we do, we think of injuries and the health of our players before we do it. I’m kicking myself in the butt as to why we didn’t stop [the mock game] at halftime and get off the field. My competitive juices got flowing and I wanted to do better. We should have just closed it out at halftime and I would’ve felt better about myself and the team. I’m gun shy now, kind of snakebit because of last year with all the injuries.”
(On who will be the Miners’ backup center) “I think it would be Kyle [Brown] right now. He only had one bad snap Saturday night and that was Nick’s fault. Kyle was perfect on his snaps. Kyle Brown is our backup center and he will play in the game Saturday against Stony Brook. He is a real good player once the ball is snapped. We will have our starting center [Eloy Atkinson] back. He didn’t play on Saturday night.”
(On UTEP’s injury situation)
“Horace Miller will play. I think Nelson, Robinson and Watkins probably won’t play against Stony Brook. Aubrey Alexius is doubtful for Stony Brook. Everybody else should be OK. Traun Roberson had knee surgery, so he has had two knee surgeries in the two years he has been here. We are probably leaning towards redshirting [Isaac] Tauaefa and [Jamie] Irving, moreso Tauaefa than Irving.”
(On whether Stony Brook will blitz with a new UTEP quarterback) “I don’t think they’re a blitzing team. They didn’t seem to blitz last year much, and Rhode Island didn’t blitz a lot and that’s where their coordinator is from. But in the first game we work on blitz pickup every day, because you don’t know what you’re going to see.”
(On if the Miners will look to run or pass first) “It’s changing a little bit with the injury situation in the offensive line. I’m going to reevaluate that, but we probably would have come in thinking about running first and letting Nick [Lamaison] get his feet wet. We’ll probably be more conservative with Nick, keeping away from the mistakes and turnovers.”
(On Stony Brook)
“They’re going to run the ball right at us and play action pass to try to get over the top of us. Defensively they’re not big, but they’re huge on offense and pretty good. It’s going to be a real physical game for both teams. They’re well-coached. They know what they’re doing and they do things right offensively and defensively. I’m really impressed with the job they’ve done. We just hope that the 20 more scholarships we have will be the difference.”