Cougar Defense Making Strides
HOUSTON (Aug. 24) -- Nine days away from their season opening game at Rice, the University of Houston football team has been getting some extra preparation on how to practice each week of the season.
"With classes starting last Monday, we have gotten away from the grind of two-a-day practices and have been doing a dress rehearsal for the week of each game," said Houston head coach Dana Dimel. "We are going to practice every day through Sunday, then give the players Monday off and come back and start getting ready to play Rice in our season opener."
One area of concern that has pleased Dimel so far this fall has been the progress Houston's defensive unit has made despite having only three starters returning from last year.
Heading the list of returning starters is senior linebacker Wayne Rogers. Rogers was named one of the players to watch for the 2000 Dick Butkas Award on Thursday. The award goes to the nation's best linebacker and is presented by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando.
Joining Rogers as a returning starter are senior defensive tackle Nikia Adderson and junior cornerback Jason Parker.
"Our defensive unit has been progressing real well in camp so far," said Dimel. "I feel real good with the play and depth of our front seven players."
As one might expect, Adderson has led the defensive line, after he recorded 35 tackles and eight quarterback sacks for the Cougars last year. Another player who has stood out has been senior defensive end Sam Hairston, who is in his second season at end after beginning his collegiate career as an outside linebacker.
However, it's been the play of junior college transfer Lee Ingersoll that has surprised Dimel.
"Lee Ingersoll has looked great so far in camp," said Dimel. "Right now, he may be the most pleasant surprise this fall."
Ingersoll was a redshirt for the Cougars in 1999 after transferring to Houston from Dodge City Community College. While he played at Dodge City, Ingersoll was a two-time all-conference selection.
Another pleasant surprise for Dimel has been Arthur Gissendanner's return at linebacker after missing the final six games of the 1999 season with a torn knee ligament against Cincinnati.
"He has shown that his knee is fully recovered," said Dimel. "He has joined Wayne Rogers have been our two most productive linebackers."
We are still piecing the secondary together right now because we are having to juggle personnel to stop Rice's option offense."
Despite switching out personnel, four players have moved to forefront in the secondary. Sophomore Heard Robinson and junior college transfers Hamin Milligan have joined Parker and senior Emile White.
However, don't be surprised if you see some changes in Houston's defensive unit following the Rice game.
"Right now, we are having to prepare to stop Rice's running game," said Dimel. "But, LSU is a predominantly passing team, so the same 11 players who start at Rice won't necessarily start at LSU the following week."