Houston Spring Football Update #4

Houston Football was back in action on Monday.

March 26, 2012

Houston, Texas - March 26, 2012 Photo Gallery

Practice 4 Update - March 26, 2012
Houston returned to the practice fields on Monday after taking Sunday off. Already four practices into the spring session, the intensity continues to rise and the defense certainly made great strides during the team segment to finish off the day.

As Cougar fans know, Houston is making the move back to the 4-3 in 2012 and while Houston ran a 3-4 scheme last season, much of the team's pass rush was generated by linebacker Sammy Brown who lined up frequently on the line of scrimmage, simulating a even front.

The defense did an excellent job of generating a pass rush on Monday, including new defensive line participant Jon Witten, who added yet another sack this spring. A converted linebacker, Whitten has good size with his 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame and brings excellent speed off the edge.

Another down lineman, Eric Braswell added a sack and the linebacker play continued to be a strength, with Phillip Steward making tough plays in traffic and a sack from Derrick Mathews off a blitz.

George Bamfo also played well on Monday and had an impressive interception of David Piland after sniffing out a crossing pattern.

Offensively Piland was sharp on Monday despite that Bamfo INT. Piland threw a beautiful pass to Isaiah Sweeney down the sideline for a score and hit Gino Collins for a fade pattern for another TD.

During a drill portion early in practice Thomas Bates made an impressive interception, stealing a likely TD catch from Dominique Sanders and Trevon Randle made an interception over the middle.

Next Practice:
Houston returns to action on Wednesday (March 28) with a 4 p.m. practice. Wednesday's practice will be held on the practice fields and the workout is open to the public. Fans are asked not to take pictures or video during the practice.

A Spring Look At The Linebackers:
Houston fans are excited about their defense for the 2012 campaign and for very good reason. Houston had one of the country's more explosive defenses in 2011 and when you speak with the coaching staff, the arrival of new defensive coordinator Jamie Bryant played a huge role in that unit's improvement.

Key impact players return at every level of the "D", including at linebacker where Freshman All-American Derrick Mathews, who finished second on the club in tackles (106) a season ago, and Phillip Steward, who led all linebackers nationally with six interceptions, lead a talented grouping which will be mentored again this season by Bryant.

Bryant came to UH after serving as the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt and was promoted this off-season after the defense finished as one of the country's most improved in scoring defense. While competition will be fierce for that third spot, Efrem Oliphant will be back in 2012 after missing his sophomore season due to injury. Oliphant brings great size (6-foot-2, 228 pounds) to the linebacking corps and had 66 total tackles as a freshman starter in 2010.

Competing with Oliphant will be Everett Daniels, an aggressive middle linebacker that had 38 tackles and 3.5 tackles-for-loss last season. The Cougars will also look for speed on the edge and George Bamfo, Austin Wilson and William Moore will compete with Mathews and Steward to provide both depth and pass-rushing ability from a team that had 31 sacks and 108 TFLs in 2011.



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