Aug. 18, 2001
With just two weeks remaining until the 2001 season opener, University of Houston head football coach ran his squad through its second full scrimmage so far this preseason. The two-hour-plus scrimmage at John O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium drew a faithful crowd of around 100 people, who braved the traditional heat and humidity of a Houston summer.
Cougar fans saw a tale of two hours, as the UH defense stifled its offensive counterparts for the first part of the scrimmage. The defense held the number one and two offensive units without a score for the first eight series of the morning before the offense finally broke through on the ninth series. From that point on it was all offense.
Unofficially, the Cougars generated almost 140 yards rushing and an amazing 462 yards passing, as Dimel used all three of his units in the intra-squad workout. Dimel knows his defense will recover, as it has been strong all camp, but he is pleased to see the offense start to come together.
"Last Tuesday the offense really had more success than the defense," said Dimel. "Then we came out a little later on in camp and the defense started to have a bit more success than the offense.
"When I look at a scrimmage I always see pluses and minuses. What I did like today that was different than Tuesday was I heard the pads thumping louder. I think (this means) we are coming off the ball harder, taking the natural progression you should take in camp and learning to play with better pad level on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
"It is key for us to be able to stop the run, and I feel our (first team) did a good job at that. It is also critical that our number one offense to be able recover after not starting off very well, and they were able to do that today."
After getting untracked the number one offensive unit registered four touchdowns drives, including three capped by scoring runs by junior running back Joffrey Reynolds. Reynolds led all rushers with 67 yards and three scores on 14 carries. Junior Kelly Robertson showed signs of hushing the critics, as the former walk-on completed 12-of-19 attempts for 246 yards and one touchdown.
The Cougar receivers are considered not only one of the best in Conference USA, but also at a national level, and Saturday's exhibition solidified this status. The tandem of All-America candidates, senior Orlando Iglesias and junior Brian Robinson, combined for nine catches for 238 yards and two scores. Iglesias racked up a team-high five catches for 116 yards, while Robinson tallied 122 yards on just four receptions, one of which was a 77-yard bomb from sophomore Nick Eddy.
Speaking of Eddy, he was four-of-10 on the afternoon for 109 yards, as the former junior-college standout took the majority of the snaps for the second team. True freshman Barrick Nealy gave the Cougar faithful a glimpse of the future with his performance on the afternoon, completing nine-of-14 tosses for 73 yards-mostly against the UH number-one defense.
"You can really see that (Nealy) has the ability," added Dimel. "(People) say, `Why don't you play a freshman,' and you can see that his mechanics of handling an offense aren't where they need to be at right now. This is just the growing pains you go through with a freshman if you decide to start him.
"But just on raw skills, you can see he can stand back there in the pocket and zing the ball around pretty good, and he has great mobility.
"Blade Bassler did a great job with the threes. Nick, Barrick and Blade are going to be good quarterbacks for us. It is nice to have three young quarterbacks that you know are going to be really solid down the line."
Other statistics of note, freshman running back Anthony Evans rushed 16 times for 55 yards and a score, as the Cougar rushing attack averaged over 3.6 yards per carry against the stingy defense. Reynolds and Evans also illustrated their exceptional receiving skills out of the backfield, as Reynolds registered three catches for 33 yards, while Evans chipped in 62 yards on just two receptions.
The Cougars return to the practice field tomorrow afternoon for just one workout. UH is slated for one more day of two-a-days on Monday, before settling in on its normal routine for the upcoming season. The Cougars open the 2001 campaign on Saturday, September 1, when they play host to cross-town rival, Rice, in the annual Southwestern Bell Bayou Bucket beginning at 7 p.m. at Robertson Stadium.