Cougars Begin Final Week of Spring Practice
April 5, 2011
The University of Houston football team completed practice No. 12 on Tuesday afternoon beginning the final week of spring ball. Head coach Kevin Sumlin also took time to meet with members of the media to talk about the first three weeks of workouts and preview the spring game.
During his 30-minute press briefing, he hit on the theory behind beginning practices prior to spring break, gave an injury update and talked about some position battles still ongoing.
HIGHLIGHTING THE QUARTERBACKS: On Jan. 14, 2011, the Houston quarterback corps went from the thinnest in the country to the most experienced, when the NCAA delivered the news of Case Keenum's sixth-year of eligibility. Keenum's ACL injury has kept him out of contact during this year's spring practice, but the 15 practices are being taken advantage of by senior Cotton Turner and sophomore David Piland.
Turner, who broke his collarbone in the same UCLA game which claimed Keenum's knee, and Piland, who started eight games as a true-freshman in 2010, have been splitting the reps with the first-team.
"Both Cotton and David are progressing really well," said co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Kliff Kingsbury. "They are benefitting a lot from all the extra reps they are getting this spring.
"Cotton's health is good and he is throwing great. David's confidence is much higher after being able to play last fall. We knew he would be good but now that he's had some success, his personality is so much different out on the field. We feel like we have three guys we can win with this fall."
Turner has played in seven games over two seasons, completing 74.6 percent of his passes during that time. He passed for 553 yards and threw five touchdown passes. Piland played in eight games and threw for 2,641 yards leading Houston to a No. 13 national ranking in passing. For his play, Piland earned honorable mention Freshman All-America honors from collegefootballnews.com and FoxSports.com. His 24 touchdowns thrown also ranked 10th in the UH record books for a single season.
Coach Kevin Sumlin
Blake Sargent was having a fantastic spring and he's having an MRI this morning on his shoulder. He's the only guy that we've had a serious situation with. Hopefully it's not too bad. If it's a tear or a labrum, that could be a three or four-month deal. That would be concerning since he was doing a great job at center. We do have capable people there but it'd give us an opportunity to plug in some different people there. We've checked out Chris Thompson at center before and Chris is very, very capable. Kevin Forsch has been working as a back up as well. Blake probably won't be available the rest of the week but we have capable guys taking snaps.
I know for fans the Spring Game can be frustrating but there are a lot of schools out there not even having spring games because of the depth situation. It's not like the old days where you have over 100 guys. We're waiting on the signing class to get here, and we only have 85 scholarship guys. You have limited players out there and by practice 15, you're still working on some things to get it done. That's the reason for the (offense/defense) format and it gives us some continuity. As a program, we're not in a position right now to give away a practice day to form a team with some starters and some walkons who might not even play, just for the sake of having two teams out there.
We've got a great medical staff here I think everyone knows that our trainers and doctors are as good as there is. We listen to them and Case works at it every day. Case is spending a lot of time out there with David (Piland) and Cotton (Turner). He's out there in the huddles with them and that helps him stay involved with everything. I think he's on track to be back. Everyone knows what kind of kid he is - if anything we have to be careful that he doesn't try to do too much.
On position groups...
Some of the incoming defensive line guys will play just because of their size whether it's Dominique (Smith), Joey (Mbu) or Keithen (English) and because of the lack of depth. Ideally, we're probably still a year behind at that position group and we've signed a few junior college players as a stopgap but we're heading towards being able to redshirt a whole class like we do for our offensive line.
On the Spring Game...
On the nose tackle position...
On Kevin Forsch and Chris Thompson at center...