March 30, 2011
The University of Houston football team is officially over the halfway point of the spring 2011 season after completing practice No. 9, Wednesday afternoon.
HOUSTON SELECT FOOTBALL LEAGUE: Members of the Houston Select Football League were out at the University of Houston football practice on Wednesday afternoon. Approximately 200 middle schoolers attended, not only the practice, but were treated to a tour of the facility, a lesson from strength and conditioning coach Larry Jackson and learned about the academic demands of college athletes. The HSFL is a competitive league that plays football in the spring semester. The goal is to provide an experience that prepares middle school athletes for high school football.
SCHEDULE CHANGE: The University of Houston is one of the host school's for this weekend's NCAA Final Four. With a practice previously scheduled for Mon., April 4, Coach Sumlin has changed the plans for the final week of spring ball. Next week the Cougars will practice at 4 p.m. on Tues., April 5, Wed., April 6 and Thurs., April 7, all leading up to the Red and White Spring Game on Sat., April 9 at 2 p.m.
YOUTH EXPERIENCE: The Houston football team will host the 2011 Cougar Youth Experience on Sat., April 9 immediately following the Red and White Spring Game on John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium. Children aged kindergarten through eighth grade can join the players and coaches for a clinic and autograph session on the field. Admission is free, and pre-registration can be done in advance by calling the Houston football office at 713-743-9388. Children will also be able to register the day of the event.
KIDS CAN PLAY: In addition to the Youth Experience, kids will be able to play in inflatable games in the Cougar Pride Kid Zone from 12-2 p.m. before the spring game on the West side in the Pavilion area.
Each day UHCougars.com will take a look at a specific position group and give fans an outlook for the 2011 season. Today we highlight the offensive linemen.
SPOTLIGHTING THE DEFENSIVE LINE: Despite having three returning players with starting experience on the defensive line, the guys are proving themselves to a new position coach in former All-SEC performer Carlton Hall. Hall's career at Vanderbilt included leading the league in tackles as a senior. He comes to Houston after four seasons as the defensive line coach at Harvard.
"We have been doing a lot of rotating this spring," Hall said. "We are flipping sides, stances, taking the nose and putting them at end and vice versa. It makes them a little uneasy at times, but I want to see who is best at what and what substitution package we have. The more we can do, the better chance we have at winning games."
Among the returnees is senior David Hunter who led the defensive linemen with 51 tackles in 2010. He recorded eight tackles for loss and 2.5 quarterback sacks. In three seasons, he has played in 38 games.
"David has played a lot of football here and has the size and ability to be very good. We now need to change some habits, habits he got away with just because of his athleticism. Imagine how good he can be with strong fundamentals."
Midway through the season, when the line was struck by the injury bug, Kelvin King moved down to the line to provide some strong pass-rush ability. He had four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss, while also recording three pressures last season.
"Kelvin is now working exclusively at end and he is having to relearn some things, even though he played there some last year. He is now putting a hand on the ground and his comfort level is a two-point stance. Things are a lot faster once you are on the ground."
Tyrone Campbell saw eight starts at both nose and end in 2010 and looks to be a factor on the inside next season. Another player catching Hall's eye is redshirt-freshman Eric Braswell. Campbell has 34 tackles and three for loss in two seasons.
"Tyrone and Eric are two guys who haven't gotten a lot of reps in the past and that is changing this spring. We are stressing hands and footwork with them."
The Cougars are doing all this without two injured players who look to play a part in the fall. Zeke Riser saw extensive time starting all 14 games as a true freshman in 2009. He had 36 tackles, 3.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks, while also recovering two fumbles. Radermon Scypion was injured during practice in 2010 just as his playing time was increasing.