April 6, 2011
The University of Houston football team practiced for two hours on Wednesday evening. While session was closed, there were two Cougar fans who earned the right to spend their afternoon with the team. Michael Schoch renewed his season tickets online and won a viewing of the closed practice.
SPOTLIGHTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: If you see Houston special teams coordinator looking a little bit brighter this spring its because he has a full roster. Not only does the team return a punter, kicker, long snapper, holder, punt and kick returner, but he feels, for the first time in his career, that he has all the personnel in place to be successful in all the coverage and kick teams as well.
You can look at his depth chart and see no holes. While that doesn't mean there won't be any newcomers filling special teams roles, it just means he could field a team today and feel very confident in their abilities.
"It's probably been our best spring since we've been here for a couple of reasons," said Levine. "First is we finally have the depth across the board and our backups at some positions are experienced enough to where they can be in the kicking game and the coverage units. The second thing is our top priorities this spring were to establish a strong kickoff coverage and punt team and we have done that."
Last season, Richie Leone came in as a true-freshman and handled punting duties, averaging 41.4 yards, landing 12 inside the 20 yard line and forcing another 12 fair catches. Matt Hogan has been a consistent field goal and extra point kicker for the past two seasons, making 89 percent of his field goal attempts (26-for-29) and 92 extra points. In two years, he has been responsible for 170 of Houston's points.
Levine's special teams ranked ninth in the nation in punt returns behind the performance of returner Patrick Edwards who ranked seventh with an average of 15.4 per return. Both Edwards and kickoff returner Tyron Carrier were responsible for a return for a touchdown. Carrier's score gave him six kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career, putting him one away from tying the NCAA record of seven.
One of the few areas Levine is looking to replace is the role of block specialist. For the past three seasons, the Cougars have had the most prolific kick blocking in the nation with 16 over that period. With Wesley Scourten graduated, the team is grooming linebacker Sammy Brown and could also look to an incoming player in the fall to help.
UP NEXT: The team will practice one final time before the Spring Game, on Thurs., April 7 at 4:45 p.m. on the practice fields.
RED AND WHITE SPRING GAME: The annual Red and White Spring Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 9 at 2 p.m. at Robertson Stadium. Admission is free as well as parking. An announcement of the game format will come later in the week.
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.