Aug. 6, 2012
HOUSTON - HEAD COACH Tony Levine
"Our staff and players have done a great job this summer. We've worked very hard to get this to point, and we're very excited to be here. I've said yes to every interview and public speaking request this summer and I've enjoyed it, but I'm really looking forward to putting a whistle on around my neck and putting shorts on and being with the student athletes. The athletes have been working very hard this summer with Coach Brian Odom, Coach Antwan Floyd and the strength staff. It's very evident when you see our guys walking down the hall, both physically and mentally. We're excited about this season and about our team.
Eight of our games will be here in Houston. It's a great schedule for our players and more importantly for our family and friends. We're opening against Texas State, which is our priority right now. We'll play an extremely talented Lousiana Tech next. Then we'll head out to Los Angeles to play UCLA following that. It's a challenging schedule and one we'll be looking forward to.
As far as this year, we've got something to prove. We come off a 13-1 season, and quite frankly that doesn't mean anything right now for the 2012 season. We've got a lot of new faces out there. We're going to be extremely young, especially offensively.
Starting with offense, our strength on paper is our four starters on the offensive line and Charles Sims at running back. Philosophically, there are many ways to win football games; one of my beliefs is by controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. That's encouraging because we have four returning starters on the offensive line. Charles Sims can do a lot for us. He is dynamic with the ball in his hands.
At quarterback prior to concluding spring practice, we named David Piland our starter. The last time anyone saw him play a college football game was November 2010. When we look back on the 2010 season, those were extremely unfortunate circumstances when we lost Case Keenum in week three and then his backup Cotton Turner for the entire season.
The next week we pulled David Piland off the scout team, pulled his redshirt off, taught him a limited amount of offense and started him as a true freshman. His knowing a limited amount of offense at that time and seeing every kind of blitz known to mankind was tough on him. He did well that year considering the circumstances.
We've got a unique situation with him because we've got a young man with eight games of starting experience under his belt and we were able to redshirt him last year. This past season he did not run our scout team; he practiced with our offense during the week. He basically shadowed Case Keenum; he traveled to all the away games, and this summer he has put on about 15 lbs. of muscle. He's done a great job, and I'm excited about his progress this far and what he brings to the field."
How he will put his stamp on this team
"Over time people will get a feel for my style and my philosophy. Family will definitely be extremely important with this new program. We did something yesterday that I'm not sure has ever been done before, and that's have all of the players' families have a kickoff and send-off luncheon. We had over 600 family members Sunday. Over time people will get a better sense of my personality and the way we're going to run our program."
On Coach Mike Nesbitt's philosophy on offense
"When we went out to look for a staff, which was one of the most challenging things I've ever done, what we've done in the past is be extremely successful. That's what we've recruited to, and we wanted to find somebody in that shared philosophy with me as well. He was a perfect fit. We're going to be up-tempo, no huddle, very similar to what we ran last season and have run in the past. People from all over the country recognize the University of Houston program with that exciting style of play. For me personally, and where I may differ is that players are more important than plays. Finally, Coach Nesbitt will be in charge of play calling."
On who has influenced Levine's coaching style and personality
"I've always wanted to be a head football coach. In high school even from basketball coaches, baseball coaches, and my football coach, I took things at 15, 16 and 17 years old that I knew I wanted to do or didn't want to do. All the way up through playing for Coach (Jim) Wacker at Minnesota, working for Tommy Tuberville at Auburn, Bobby Petrino at Louisville and Auburn, Kevin Sumlin here, Jack Bicknell at Lousiana Tech, John Fox with the Carolina Panthers, and having worked along side Dana Holgorsen here as well. They've all influenced me in some way or another."
JUNIOR RUNNING BACK Charles Sims
On playing with a chip on his shoulder
"People are going to get a big surprise. We're just going to play our game and let our game do the talking."
On the talent of this year's offense
"We have a lot of great players on this team. A lot of guys are going to play a big role in this offense."
On wanting to leave Conference USA on top
"That's always going to be a goal. We're always going to have the motivation to get on the field and play football and try to win as much as possible."
On his quarterbacks calling him a playmaker
"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be fun. It's great that those guys feel that way. It's great to always have a chance to make a play."
SOPHOMORE QUARTERBACK David Piland
On the season outlook
"It's pretty obvious we want to win every game. We have a chip on our shoulder and we're not shooting for an average season. Our entire offense hears about all the guys that played last year."
On replacing players
"They were great players, and I can't say enough about them, but the fact is they've moved on. We can't rely on a Patrick Edwards or a Michael Hayes. Charles (Sims) and I have to step up, and we have a lot of guys back who are going to play big roles and produce."
On gaining experience after two seasons
"It has helped being able to see the speed of the game and how the defense works in certain situations. That's going to help me moving forward."
JUNIOR CORNERBACK Zachary McMillian
On how it feels to be cleared to play
"I've been off for too long. I'm tired of looking at everybody else practice. I'm ready to practice. I'm ready to get started. I've got goose bumps just thinking about it."
On the defensive backs' mentality
"Personally we feel like we need to be a staple so they can depend on us. We need to come in and consistently win. That comes from working hard in practice and just challenging each other as a unit and a group. We need to be that part of the defense that we can depend on."
SOPHOMORE LINEBACKER Derrick Mathews
On what feels different heading into his sophomore year
"I have the same outlook. I just need to go out and work hard. I feel like I'm more comfortable and relaxed. I'm not as tense as I was my freshman year."
SENIOR SAFETY D.J. Hayden
On being in a pass happy league
"I like being tested a little bit. They're challenging us to make plays and do what we need to do to help the team win."
On if he is the leader of the defense
"Some of the players look at it that way. We have a lot of leaders on the defense though. I'm a vocal leader, but we're all out there leading."
SENIOR KICKER Matt Hogan
On if he'll take more long distance kicks this year
"It depends on what the offense does. I hope it doesn't come to that, but if they need me, they know I'll be there to bail them out."
SENIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN Jacolby Ashworth
On having a new quarterback
"When Kevin Kolb went to the NFL people, asked who would be the next Kolb when Case was a freshman. Then Case took over and now people are asking the same question. It's time for David (Piland) to begin his era and be himself."