Houston Spring Football Update #1

Spring Football is underway at the University of Houston.

March 22, 2012

Houston, Texas - Practice 1 Update - March 22, 2012
The wet conditions didn't keep Houston Football Head Coach Tony Levine and his 2012 Cougars off the practice field for a second consecutive day on Thursday as his club opened Spring Ball with a spirited two-hour workout.

In fact to call it spirited may be an understatement for practice No. 1 ... the attitudes were high and so was the intensity, among both the players and the coaching staff.

"Our guys were very organized today," Head Coach Tony Levine said. "I don't think those that came out here as fans would have realized that this is the first time this complete staff has coached a practice together."

Levine was right. Fresh off a nation-leading 13 wins in 2011, Houston began preparations for the upcoming campaign, and looked crisp doing so. Sophomore quarterback David Piland took the majority of the snaps with the first team and was sharp. He routinely found receivers in stride and for the first workout the vast majority of those passes were caught.

"I missed a couple of throws and there may have been a couple of drops, but I feel like we were sharp today," Piland said. "It was good to get back out here and workout again. We have the mindset that each practice we will be better than the day before, so guys were hungry and had a lot to prove."

The team did a lot of drill and station work on Thursday, but did get some reps vs. the top units. Although no pads were worn (and won't be worn tomorrow), both sides were flying around the field and Piland looked sharp completing five consecutive passes to open the brief "team" period.

Other Cougars shining on offense were Dewayne Peace and Ronnie Williams. Both players attacked the football from their wide receiver positions and made superb catches in traffic. Charles Sims was also stout and made a great over-the-shoulder grab during passing drills.



Next Practice:
Houston returns to the practice fields on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The team was scheduled to take Friday "off", but will use Friday as a make-up day for Wednesday's missed workout.

Houston gets 15 total practices in the spring, including the annual Red & White Spring Game, which will be held on Friday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at Robertson Stadium. Each practice, including the Spring Game is free / open to the general public. Click HERE for a complete (updated) Spring Football practice schedule.

All practice times and locations are subject to change, so please check with UHCougars.com and follow us on Twitter at @UHCougarFB for more information.

Saturday's Practice:
With Saturday's practice now taking place at 3:30 p.m., it will be held on the practice fields. It was originally slated for Robertson Stadium.

Former Cougars In Attendance:
Tyron Carrier, David Hunter and Nick Saenz all came out to see their former teammates in action.

Position Switches:
Coach Levine announced that Desmond Pulliam and Jon Witten will move over to defensive end. Pulliam was a tight end and Witten was a linebacker.

A Spring Look At The Quarterbacks:
It's no secret that Houston will have a new starter under center this year and while Case Keenum is focusing on April's NFL Draft, a number of talented performers are ready to take over the direction of Houston's famed Air Raid offensive attack.

Keenum left as college football's all-time passing leader and while he was a mainstay under center since the 2007 season the cupboard is far from depleted with the return of former Freshman All-American David Piland, along with veteran Crawford Jones, converted receiver Aaron Johnson and redshirt freshman Bram Kohlhausen.

"Competition is so critical for any football program and we have it at the quarterback position. In fact we have it all over the field," offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt said. "Teams can get in trouble when they have a guy that leads the depth chart at his position and he doesn't have anyone chasing him, pushing him to reach his potential. You want to create a `survival of the fittest' mentality for your team at this time of the year."

Piland gives Houston its most game-tested performer (eight starts and 2,641 yards passing as a true freshman), but Jones (fifth-year senior) is well versed in the intricacies of the offense, Johnson is an explosive athlete with a successful high school pedigree (District MVP) and Kohlhausen led his club to 28 wins in three years as a starter.

Piland stepped in immediately as a true freshman and played well throughout the year ranking among national leaders at 330.1 yards passing per game. Now entering his third year in the program, Piland threw for 24 touchdowns and brings good size with his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame.

Jones served as the team's holder on field goals the last two years and studied the offense along with Keenum. A native of Keller, the 6-foot-1 QB will be able to provide a veteran presence, while surrounded by an otherwise young group of competitors.

"The big thing is looking to see who can get their teammates to play hard for them and keep the chains moving," Nesbitt said. "Tempo is a huge factor for us and we will look to find the quarterback that is comfortable playing at a quick tempo, has the best knowledge of our schemes and has the ability to make plays."

Another competitor at the position, Johnson was one of a few Cougars to make position changes this spring. He played in five games as a true freshman, primarily on special teams, and redshirted in 2011 before making the move back to QB.

Kohlhausen is another intriguing young player, but will get his first real action in 2012 after redshirting a year ago. He improved a great deal throughout the 2011 season and made tremendous strides during bowl preparation. He entered Houston as one of the Top 30 quarterback recruits in 2011 and was the Fort Worth EA Sports Elite 11 Top Performer, throwing for 1,047 yards and 14 scores as a senior.

"Obviously we have a similar offense to what these young men are used to and that's beneficial to them and to our staff," Nesbitt said. "I feel like we have some talented guys that can step in and play well and compete for that starting spot. As a coach, you are excited about that."

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