Houston Caps TicketCity Bowl Preparation

Jan. 1, 2012

Dallas, Texas - Houston Football is putting the finishing touches on its preparation for Penn State in Monday's TicketCity Bowl. The Cougars returned to the practice field at Mesquite High School on Sunday and then traveled to Cotton Bowl Stadium to take a team picture and participate in a fan pep rally.

Hundreds of Cougar fans attended the pep rally, which saw Head Coach Tony Levine and senior center Chris Thompson address the Cougar faithful.

"It's great having so many Cougar fans here in Dallas," Thompson said. "We of course want to welcome Penn State to the state of Texas and we want to wish you all a Happy New Year, but for the UH fans here, thank you so much for coming out and showing your support. There is so much red here, it looks like we brought "The Rob" to Big D. It really means a lot to us to have you here and it's special for us to play one more game as a senior class."

As for practice, it was a brisk workout in Mesquite. The team went through their typical "Friday" routine and will spend most of their time Sunday evening in meetings. The squad will also have an opportunity to watch a movie later tonight before an early curfew with Monday's 11 a.m. start time.

"It's really been a great experience this week, but our guys are ready to play," Head Coach Tony Levine said. "This is such a historic stadium and there are a lot of great memories for Cougar fans in here. I think we are all ready for Monday to get here."



Houston fans have been in Dallas all week, but a huge contingent arrived this afternoon and has turned the Omni Hotel into a festive scene.

"This is great," Marcus McGraw said. "It's great seeing so many familiar faces, our classmates, family and friends up here. Bowl games, they aren't guaranteed to anyone, so we are here on a mission. It would be special to get a 13th win, but Penn State is a very good team, so this will be a great challenge."

Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. on ESPNU.

Houston Player Quotes:

Philip Steward, LB

On Penn State's quarterback play
"We've seen a lot of film on both quarterbacks because we didn't know who was going to start. The wildcat, we'll treat as just another running play."

On importance of keeping Penn State defense on the field
"We have to get off the field on third downs and make sure we give the ball back to our offense. The more chances they get to score the ball, the better chance we have of winning."

On rebounding from their season-ending defeat
"A lot of people remember us for our last game. We want to make sure people remember us for this game and not our last game."

On the importance of a win
"We've been having little team meetings; talking about how this can be our 13th win and how we can make history."

On playing in Dallas
"This is my first time to Dallas. I've been enjoying it. We have a lot of players from Dallas, so they've been giving us all of the history on the city and taking us places."

Justin Johnson, WR

On Penn State's defense
"Overall, we haven't seen a defense like this at every spot. But, we're going to play our style of offense and take what their defense will give us."

On Penn State's style of play
"With their run game, they're more of the clock control. We sort of hit quick. We want to take advantage of our opportunities. Playing a team like Penn State that likes to run the ball and control the clock, you never know how many of those opportunities you're going to get."

On Penn State's secondary
"They have a great secondary and a great line. They get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Those guys in the secondary do a great job of keeping everything in front of them, coming downhill and making tackles. It's going to be a good challenge for us - a top defense going up a top offense."

On the readiness of the Houston offensive line
"Those guys had a great few weeks of practice. They want to get the bad taste (of the Southern Mississippi game) out of their mouths just like the rest of us. It wasn't all on the offensive line, it was an accumulation of a lot of things that went wrong that day. They're looking forward to the challenge and I think they'll be ready."

On playing in the historic Cotton Bowl
"This venue is amazing. I've always wanted to play here since I grew up in Dallas. We, - myself and the other seniors, definitely want to go out on high note. Not a lot of people get a chance to have their last game in a place like this and make it count."

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