Game Notes - Houston vs. Rice

    Sept. 17, 2013


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    THE GAME AT A GLANCE
    Date Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013
    Time 2 p.m.
    Location Houston
    Venue Reliant Stadium
    Capacity 71,000
    Surface Synthetic Turf
    TV FSN
    Radio SportsTalk 790
    Live Stats UHCougars.com
     THE GAME
    » After its first bye week of the season, Houston returns to action Saturday at 2 p.m. CST in its Bayou Bucket Game against crosstown rival Rice. Houston's all-time record in its first 67 years of existence is 390-341-15, including a mark of 28-11 versus Rice including wins in the last two meetings. Saturday's game marks the first game in eight years that the teams are not conference rivals.
    » The 2013 season marks Houston's first in The American and its first opportunity to automatically qualify for a BCS Bowl by winning its league crown. The American is Houston's sixth conference since the program started in 1946. The Cougars are a combined 32-22-1 when their first years as a conference newcomer are combined.
    » Houston opened the season 2-0 for the 15th time in program history and the first time since 2011 and is looking to start the year 3-0 for the 13th time in program history. Saturday is also the first time the Cougars have played Owls in back-to-back games.
    » Houston's two-deep depth chart sports 25 underclassmen, including seven true freshmen, compared to the 20 upperclassmen.
    » Houston returns on campus to the Houston Football Stadium in 2014 as its new stadium is being constructed on the footprint of its former home, Robertson Stadium. Houston will #PaintHoustonRed as it plays its 2013 games at three sites across the nation's fourth largest city. The Cougars will play five games in Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans, one game at BBVA Compass Stadium, home of MLS' Houston Dynamo, and one game at Rice Stadium.

     THE COACHES
    Tony Levine | Minnesota, 1996 | 8-7 (2nd year as HC/6th year at UH)

    Dave Bailiff | Texas State, 1981 | 52-60 (10th year), 31-45 (7th year at Rice)

     FAST FACTS ON THE SERIES
    » Series Record Overall: Houston leads, 28-11
    » Series Record at Houston: Houston leads, 13-5
    » Series Record at Rice: Houston leads, 14-6
    » Series Record at Neutral Site: Houston leads, 1-0
    » Last Meeting Houston 35, Rice 14 (Sept. 29, 2012 at Reliant Stadium)

     PLAYERS TO WATCH
    RYAN JACKSON, SO. RB
    Houston's backup running back, Jackson enters the Bayou Bucket with a streak of three straight 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2012 season finale win over Tulane, a number that ranks third nationally. Jackson is just 23 yards away from eclipsing his 2012 total rushing yards as he currently sits with 229 yards and three touchdowns through two games after rushing for 252 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games last season.
    TREVON STEWART, SO. S
    A FWAA Freshman All-American last season, Stewart earned his second career start and second career game with double-digit tackles against Rice last year with 11 stops. Stewart went on to lead all freshmen nationally with 126 tackles. Heading into this year's Bayou Bucket, Stewart has a streak of three games with a turnover. After recording his first career interception in Houston's 2012 season-ending win over Tulane, Stewart has recovered fumbles in UH's wins over Southern and Temple to open this season.


    The weekly one-hour call-in radio show will take place each Tuesday from 8-9 p.m. CT and will air live on KPRC 950 AM (Weeks 1-5, 10, 12) and KBMF-AM SportsTalk 790 (Weeks 6-9, 11, 13). Join Houston head coach Tony Levine and host Jeremy Branham each Tuesday at Ragin Cajun restaurant at 4302 Richmond Ave. for the show.


     THE OPPONENT
    » In its seventh season under head coach David Bailiff, Rice enters the Bayou Bucket Game with a record of 1-1, splitting its first two games with a 52-31 loss at Texas A&M and a 23-14 home win over Kansas.
    » The Owls finished 2012 7-6, closing the season with five straight wins including a 33-14 win over Air Force in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
    » Rice is led by senior RB Charles Ross who ranks 10th nationally with an average of 132 yards per game on the ground and ninth nationally with four touchdowns. Sophomore DT Christian Covington has 4.5 tackles for loss through two games, a number that ranks fifth nationally.

     THE SERIES
    » Houston leads the all-time series with its crosstown rival, 28-11, and has won the last two meetings and seven of the last 10 meetings. UH is 13-5 at home, 14-6 at Rice and 1-0 in its lone neutral site meeting with Rice, last season's 35-14 win over the Owls at Reliant Stadium.
    » Houston has scored at least 31 points in each of the last eight meetings and is 6-2 in that span.
    » UH has outscored Rice 108-48 in its last two combined meetings.
    » The Cougars claimed last season's meeting with a 35-14 win in Reliant Stadium. Larry McDuffey and Daniel Spencer hauled in touchdowns from David Piland to put Houston on the board first as it jumped out to a 28-0 lead. The UH defense was the only team of the year to hold Rice under 100 yards of rushing, allowing just 69 yards on the ground from the Owls.

     TIES WITH TEMPLE
    » Tony Levine and Rice head coach David Bailiff know each other well from their three years together at Texas State (1997-99). Bailiff served as the Bobcats' defensive coordinator while Levine coached wide receivers, tight ends and was the co-recruiting coordinator in his first full-time collegiate coaching position.
    » Houston Assistant Head Coach and co-offensive coordinator Travis Bush will also reunite with Bailiff after spending six
    years together at two different schools. Bush served as a graduate assistant for the offensive line when Baliff was defensive
    coordinator at TCU from 2001-03. Bush followed Bailiff to Texas State to coach wide receivers in 2004 when Bailiff was named
    head coach.
    » Rice defensive coordinator Chris Thurmond served as cornerbacks coach at Houston from 2006-07 and was the interim head coach for the Cougars in the 2007 Texas Bowl.
    » Rice offensive line coach Ronnie Vinklarek coached the offensive line at Houston from 1988-93, mentoring the unit that protected Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware.

     LAST TIME OUT
    » Houston opened the season 2-0 for the 15th time in program history with a 22-13 win at Temple on Sept. 7 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
    » After giving up two rushing touchdowns in the first half, the Houston defense tightened up by shutting out the Owls in the second half and allowing just 105 second half yards.
    » The Houston defense also forced multiple turnovers for the 10th straight game as it picked off two Temple passes and recovered one fumble. The last time Houston defense did not force multiple turnovers? Last season vs. Rice.
    » Offensively, the Houston play calling was balanced as the Cougars had 48 rushing attempts and 48 passing attempts as they finished with 305 passing yards and 219 rushing yards.
    » Offensively the Cougars were paced by RB Ryan Jackson and WR Deontay Greenberry. Jackson had a game-high 109 rushing yards , his second straight 100-yard game this season, and one touchdown on the ground while Greenberry led all with 165 receiving yards on 14 receptions, both career highs.
    » At quarterback, junior David Piland started the game and finished with 72 yards on 6-of-17 passing while true freshman John O'Korn entered the game on Houston's first drive of the second quarter. O'Korn finished with 233 yards on 23-of-31 passing.

     MOVING TO THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
    » For the first time in 18 years, Houston will play in a different conference as it joins The American Athletic Conference in 2013.
    » One of four new programs in The American Athletic Conference, Houston will host Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU and USF while traveling to UCF, Louisville, Rutgers and Temple. Non-conference action will see UH face off against Southern, Rice, UTSA and BYU. Houston has never played three of the teams - BYU, Rutgers and UTSA.
    »
    Entering its 23rd season as a football-playing entity, The American Athletic Conference holds its BCS automatic qualifier status for the 2013 season.

     

     #PaintHoustonRed
    » Robertson Stadium, Houston's home in 2012, is literally no more. Demolition on the 70-year old stadium began on Dec. 3, 2012, and the stadium was gone in three weeks. The Cougars finished 72-44-1 (.620) inside Robertson Stadium and were 36-9 (.800) dating back to 2006.
    » Houston held its official groundbreaking for the Houston Football Stadium on the previous footprint of Robertson Stadium on Feb. 8, 2013. The 40,000-seat stadium is set to open August of 2014.
    » With its on-campus home being constructed, the Cougars will #PaintHoustonRed as they play four of their 2013 games at Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans, one at BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the MLS' Houston Dynamo and one at Rice Stadium.
    » Houston is 2-4 all time at Reliant Stadium with its first win in the stadium coming last season when it defeated crosstown rival Rice, 35-14, and its second last Friday against Southern.
    » The Cougars are 55-36-3 all time at Rice Stadium, home of the Nov. 23 meeting with Cincinnati, and have never played at BBVA Compass Stadium, the site of their Oct. 12 game vs. Memphis.

     YOUTH IS SERVED
    » When Houston takes the field, its two-deep depth chart will sport just six seniors among its 44 spots on offense and defense. Senior punter Richie Leone is not counted in the six but holds down the starting position at kicker, punter and kickoff specialist, Houston's only senior on the special teams depth chart.
    » All together, the Houston offensive and defensive two-deep shows five true freshmen, seven redshirt freshmen, 13 sophomores, 14 juniors and the six seniors.
    » Seven true freshmen have seen action this season: WR Demarcus Ayers, DE Tyus Bowser, K Ty Cummings, TE/DE Chauntez Jackson, WR John Leday, FB Tyler McCloskey and Q John O'Korn.
    » Nine true freshmen played in 2012 for Houston including 30 starts.
    » Three of Houston's top nine receivers in 2012 were true freshmen while three of the top four rushers were sophomores or freshmen.
    » Trevon Stewart led all freshmen nationally with 126 tackles in 2012 en route to being named an FWAA Freshman All-American.
    » Stewart and receivers Deontay Greenberry and Larry McDuffey were named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team last season. Greenberry led the league's freshmen with 47 receptions for 569 yards while McDuffey led all first-year players in the league with four receiving touchdowns.

    THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE STANDINGS
      AMERICAN OVERALL    
    TEAM W L Pct. W L Pct. LAST WEEK THIS WEEK
    Houston 1 0 1.000 2 0 1.000 - vs. Rice
    Louisville 0 0 .000 3 0 1.000 W, at Kentucky, 27-13 Florida International
    UCF 0 0 .000 3 0 1.000 W, at Penn State, 34-31 -
    Cincinnati 0 0 .000 2 1 .667 W, Northwestern State, 66-9 at Miami (Ohio)
    Rutgers 0 0 .000 2 1 .667 W, Eastern Michigan, 28-10 Arkansas
    SMU 0 0 .000 1 1 .500 - at Texas A&M
    Conneticut 0 0 .000 0 2 .000 L, Maryland, 32-21 Michigan
    Memphis 0 0 .000 0 2 .000 L, at Middle Tennessee, 17-15 Arkansas State
    USF 0 0 .000 0 3 .000 L, Florida Atlantic, 28-10 -
    Temple 0 0 .000 0 3 .000 L, Fordham, 30-29 -

    2013 NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
      Conference Overall    
    TEAM W L Pct. W L Pct. LAST WEEK THIS
    Southern (SWAC) 1 0 1.000 1 2 .333 W, Prairie View A&M, 62-59 at Mississippi Valley State
    Rice (C-USA) 0 0 .000 1 1 .500 W, Kansas, 23-14 vs. Houston
    UTSA (C-USA) 0 0 .000 1 2 .333 L, at Arizona, 38-13 at UTEP
    BYU (Independent) 0 0 .000 1 1 .500 - Utah

     DEGREES IN HAND
    » Five Houston seniors entered the season having already earned an undergraduate degree. George Bamfo, Thomas Bates, Ty Cloud, Kevin Forsch and Ralph Oragwu all completed degree requirements prior to this season.
    » Bates earned his degree in health while Oragwu completed course work for a sociology degree.
    » On the business side of things, Bamfo and Cloud received degrees in consumer sciences and marketing while Forsch earned a business degree.
    » Three additional Cougars complete their degree requirements this December: Aaron Johnson, Austin Lunsford and David Piland.

    Conference Years Record First Year/Finish
    Lone Star 1946-48 12-20 4-6/5th
    Gulf Coast 1949 5-4-1 5-4-1/3rd
    Missouri Valley 1951-59 49-37-3 6-5/4th
    Southwest 1976-95 115-108-4 10-2/1st
    Conference USA 1996-2012 104-103 7-5/1st
    American 2013- 2-0 1-0/?
     BEGINNER'S LUCK?
    » The American Athletic Conference marks Houston's sixth conference since the program was founded in 1946. UH also spent 17 years as an independent (1950, 1960-75).
    » Houston never finished worse than third in the West Division of Conference USA after finishing in the top three in 2012.
    » C-USA title game participants in 2011, 2009 and 2006, Houston and Tulsa (2012, 2008, 2007, 2005) established a grip on the C-USA West crown. Only SMU (2010) advanced from the west to the C-USA title game in the game's eight-year existence.
    » Houston ended its Conference USA stint with the second-best league record since 2005 when the conference split into two divisions. Over the last eight years since the divisional split, Houston accumulated a league record of 45-19 and an overall record of 65-39.

     ABOUT THE 2013 COUGARS
    » Twenty-six full or part-time starters, not counting specialists, returned in 2013. Among those are last year's leaders in passing (David Piland), kick returns (Ryan Jackson), interceptions (Zach McMillian) and punting (Richie Leone).
    » The 12 opponents on the 2013 schedule combined for a record of 85-65 (.567), eight finished .500 or better, six won at least eight games including three with at least 10 wins and seven played in bowl games.
    » The program welcomed an incoming class of 29 that is comprised of 19 high school student-athletes, eight junior college transfers and two four-year transfers.
    » Five of the 26 newcomers enrolled in the program in January for spring workouts - DE Trevor Harris, WR D'Juan Hines, LB Elandon Roberts, LB Caleb Tucker and DB Turon Walker.
    » Houston's roster sports 47 players who were not with the program in 2012 and 15 who redshirted last season in their first year on campus.

     LOOKING BACK AT 2012
    » Houston finished its final season in Conference USA and its final year in Robertson Stadium with a 5-7 record including a 4-4 mark in C-USA play.
    » Safety Trevon Stewart earned FWAA Freshman All-America honors while 13 total Cougars earned All-Conference USA honors.
    » Nine true freshmen played on the year and accounted for 27 starts.
    » With 45 points in its win over UTEP, Houston eclipsed the 35-point mark for the fifth straight game, a feat that had only been accomplished two other times in program history - by the 2011 team (12 straight games to open the season) and the 1989 team (six straight games to end the season).
    » The 2012 senior class closed out its career in a tie for seventh for the most wins, 33, by a single class in a four-year period at the University of Houston.
    » Injuries hit the Houston program especially hard last season as members of the team's two deep missed a combined 58 games this season due to injuries. Eight players suffered season-ending injuries and the team's most valuable player, Charles Sims, was forced to miss three full games and the second half of three others.

    School C-USA Record Overall Record
    Tulsa 48-17 72-34
    Houston 45-19 65-39
    East Carolina 44-20 57-46
    UCF 43-22 60-44
    Southern Miss 36-28 57-45
     END OF CONFERENCE USA ERA
    » The 2012 season marked the end of Houston's 17-year run as a member in Conference USA. Houston's first year as a member came in 1996 as the Cougars recorded a 4-1 conference record. Houston finished its stint in C-USA with a 68-60 conference record in the 17-year span and an overall record of 103-104.
    » Houston never finished worse than third in the West Division of Conference USA after finishing in the top three in 2012.
    » C-USA title game participants in 2011, 2009 and 2006, Houston and Tulsa (2012, 2008, 2007, 2005) established a grip on the C-USA West crown. Only SMU (2010) advanced from the west to the C-USA title game in the game's eight-year existence.
    » Houston ended its C-USA stint with the second-best league record since 2005 when the conference split into two divisions. Over the last eight years since the divisional split, Houston accumulated a league record of 45-19 and an overall record of 65-39.

     ON THE OFFENSIVE
    » Since 2006, no team in college football has racked up more offensive yards than Houston who has 49,477 yards in that time.

    Rank Team Total Yards (06-present) Season Average (06-12)
    1. HOUSTON 49,477 6,902
    2. Oregon 46,993 6,387
    3. Oklahoma 46,173 6,386
    4. Nevada 45,412 6,334
    5. Boise State 43,298 5,992

     QUICK STRIKE POTENTIAL
    » Of Houston's 64 offensive scoring drives last season, 30 came in under two minutes. Twelve of those 30 came in under a minute with the season's quickest drive lasting just seven seconds at East Carolina as David Piland hit Isaiah Sweeney in the end zone from 34 yards out.
    » Sixteen scoring drives consisted of five plays or less.
    » Fourteen of Houston's touchdowns last year covered at least 30 yards. Ten different Houston players crossed the goal line on the 14 30-plus yard TDs.
    » Houston has returned to its ways this season as six of its 16 scoring drives have lasted under two minutes including four under one minute. Its quickest lasted just 12 seconds as the Cougars covered 12 yards on just two plays capped by a Ryan Jackson's eight-yard touchdown run at Temple.

    Expolsive Plays (20 yards or longer)
    Team 2010 2011 2012 Total
    1. Oklahoma State 75 94 92 261
    2. Houston 65 109 80 254
    3. Oregon 82 88 80 250
    4.. Baylor 69 93 86 248
    5. Northern Illinois 77 79 73 229
     EXPLOSIVE PLAYS
    » Over the last three seasons, Houston has trailed just Oklahoma State in explosive plays of 20 yards or longer with 254 to OSU's 261.
    » The Cougars got off to a bang with 12 explosive plays in their first two games of the season. Daniel Spencer has Houston's most-explosive play of the season, a 45-yard rush for a touchdown, one of four plays of 20 yards or longer on the season for Spencer.
    » True freshman Demarcus Ayers is tied with Spencer for the team lead with four explosive plays as the receiver has four kickoff returns of at least 20 yards.
    » For a full breakdown of Houston's explosive plays this season, jump to page 19 of the notes.

     OFFENSIVE COACHING CHANGES
    » Doug Meacham, who spent the last eight seasons at Oklahoma State, joined the Houston staff on Jan. 14 as the program's new offensive coordinator. A vital part of an OSU offense that averaged at least 40 points in five of his eight years in Stillwater, Meacham will oversee the program's quarterbacks.
    » Entering his second season at Houston, Travis Bush was elevated to co-offensive coordinator and assistant head coach and shifted back to leading the program's running backs after taking over as offensive play caller and quarterbacks coach during the 2012 season.
    » Glen Elarbee joined the program on Jan. 14 as its offensive line coach after spending 2012 at Middle Tennessee State where his unit ranked second nationally with just seven sacks allowed on 344 pass attempts. The first-year Houston coach spent two seasons coaching alongside Meacham at Oklahoma State.
    » Brandon Middleton and Jamie Christian both return in 2012 with Middleton coaching outside receivers and Christian taking on the inside receivers including the return of the tight end position.

     PASSING VS. RUSHING
    » Known for years as one of the nation's top passing teams, this season those who follow the Houston program have seen a shift of sorts. While the Cougars are still running their usual spread offense, they actually have 98 rushing attempts on the season to 86 passing attempts.
    » After rushing 50 times and attempting 38 passes against Southern, Houston was completly balanced against Temple with 48 rushing attempts and passing attempts.
    » The last time Houston had more rushing attempts than passing attempts in a season was 2007 when Houston had 599 rushing attempts for 2,911 yards and 437 passing attempts for 3,614 yards.
    » With Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham on its staff, Oklahoma State trailed just Houston in passing yards over the 2010-12 seasons and were second nationally in scoring and total offense during that time.

    CONSECUTIVE 100-YARD RUSHING GAMES
    1. Lache Seastrunk 6
    2. Todd Gurley, Georgia 4
    3. Ryan Jackson 3
     NO SIGN OF SOPHOMORE SLUMPS
    » Carrying on the youthful theme for Houston, there has been no sign of sophomore slumps for two of the team's offensive threats in WR Deontay Greenberry and RBs Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow.
    » Through two games, Jackson is just 23 rushing yards away from eclipsing his 2012 total of 252 yards. The sophomore from Angleton, Texas, has 229 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries after totaling 252 yards and three touchdowns on 59 carries in 2012.
    » Jackson has rushed for 100 over yards in Houston's first two games and has a three-game streak of 100-yard rushing games dating back to last season's finale, a number that ranks third nationally.
    » Sophomore walk-on RB Justin Hicks tallied his first career touchdown against Southern as he plunged in from one-yard out and has 67 yards on 15 carries this season.
    » If the first two games are any indication, both Farrow and Jackson should easily surpass their 2012 rushing totals. The two have already greatly surpassed their totals from the first two games of 2012.
    » As is the case with Farrow and Jackson, Greenberry is getting his season off to a great start and will be expected to surpass his 2012 numbers with ease. After starting 11 games on the outside in 2012, Greenberry has moved to the inside under new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and as the numbers show below, the move has been paying off. The sophomore set career highs with 14 receptions for 165 yards at Temple.

    OPENING UP A CAN OF O'KORN
    » With David Piland recovering from a concussion suffered against Temple, true freshman John O'Korn may receive his first career start against Rice.
    » O'Korn knows a thing or two about winning as he led St. Thomas Aquinas to the Florida Class 7A State Title en route to earning Florida 7A Offensive Player of the Year honors. He finished the year with 2,552 passing yards and 22 touchdowns against just four interceptions while rushing 95 times for 576 yards and 15 touchdowns.
    » O'Korn has played in the first two Houston games, entering on the Cougars' fourth series as planned. Against Southern he returned for good on the second drive of the second half and finished with 107 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-15 passing
    » O'Korn also came in on the fourth seires at Temple, but remained in the game the rest of the way as he finished with 233 yards on 23-of-31 passing.
    » Depth at QB is provided by a second true freshman in Greg Ward Jr. and JUCO QB Billy Cosh. One of the top quarterbacks in the state of Texas, Ward threw for 4,202 yards and 39 touchdowns against five interceptions as a senior at John Tyler High School. A dual threat, Ward also added 861 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Cosh led Butler Community College to the NJCAA National Championship in his lone season at the school, throwing for 2,856 yards and 25 touchdowns.
    » Piland is seventh in UH history on the career charts for touchdown passes (41), passing yards (5,790) and total offense (6,054).

     TAKE IT AWAY, DON'T GIVE IT AWAY
    » Twenty-two of Houston's 29 drives this season have either ended with a score or a punt as the UH offense has committed just two turnovers, both fumbles, and one turnover on downs. The other four? One missed field goal and three end of halves.
    » On the other side of the ball, the Houston defense has forced seven turnovers, four fumbles and three interceptions, to give the Cougars a +5 turnover difference, a number that leads The American Athletic Conference and ranks second nationally. The Houston defense ranks 11th nationally by forcing its seven turnovers.
    » In its season opener, Houston scored on each of its first four drives, two touchdowns, two field goals, before registering its first punt of the night, and its only punt of the first half, on its fifth drive.
    » Defensive backs Zach McMillian and Adrian McDonald along with defensive tackle Tomme Mark each have interceptions while George Bamfo, Trevon Stewart (2) and Earl Foster all recorded fumble recoveries.
    » The Houston defense has forced multiple turnovers in each of its two games - Southern (4) and Temple (3) and has forced multiple turnovers in 10 straight games dating back to 2012.

     A WHOLE CAST OF CHARACTERS
    » The 2013 receiving corps have no problem with familiarity of the Houston system as 10 of the top 13 receivers from 2012 returned.
    » The 10 returning players who recorded a catch in 2012 combined for a total of 191 receptions for 2,410 yards and 17 touchdowns.
     ReceptionsYardsTDs
    What Returns191 (56.7%)2,410 (61.2%)17 (63.0%)
    What Was Lost1461,53110

    » The 2012 season saw 19 different Houston players record a reception including eight players with at least 20 receptions and four with at least 37. At least seven different players had a reception in 11 of 12 games including 11 players with a catch vs. UAB.
    » In the season's first two games, nine Houston players have recorded a reception with three players - Daniel Spencer (2), Deontay Greenberry (1) and John Leday (1) - pulling in touchdowns.
    Opponent# with a reception# with receiving TDs100-yard receivers
    Southern 8 3 1
    Temple 6 0 1

    » In 2012, five players accounted for seven 100-yard receiving efforts last season as Dewayne Peace (141 vs. Louisiana Tech, 103 at UCLA, 101 vs. Tulane), Daniel Spencer (157 vs. Louisiana Tech), Larry McDuffey (100 vs. Rice), Shane Ros (114 vs. UAB) and Charles Sims (114 vs. SMU) accomplished the feat.
    » Houston has had 100-yard receivers in each of its two games this season as Daniel Spencer (102 vs. Southern) and Deontay Greenberry (165 at Temple) have each accomplished the feat so far.
    » Both Greenberry (14-165) and Xavier Maxwell (8-75) set career highs for receptions and receiving yards at Temple.

     THE LINE ON THE LINE
    » For the second straight year, the Houston offensive line entered the year having lost just one starter as right guard Jacolby Ashworth graduated after earning All-Conference USA honors in his final season.
    » The unit took a hit in the season opener as OT Ralph Oragwu suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the year. The senior was starting his first career game at left tackle after starting 10 games at right tackle in 2012. Rowdy Harper, who owns 28 career starts including 12 at left tackle in 2012, slid over to replace Oragwu.
    » With Oragwu out, the group consists of six players with a combined 91 games of starting experience - LT Rowdy Harper (28), LG Ty Cloud (26), RG/C Kevin Forsch (21), C Bryce Redman (10), G/T DeAnthony Sims (4) and T Zach Johnson (2).
    » The group of returning starters sports an average height of 6-3 with an average weight of 311 pounds.
    » Houston's 2012 offensive line gave up just 18 sacks on the season, ranking second in Conference USA and 43rd nationally.
    » The front line unit is led by new coach Glen Elarbee who coached a Middle Tennessee State offensive line in 2012 that finished second nationally with just seven sacks given up.

     CHANGES TO THE DEFENSIVE STAFF
    » Veteran NFL and NCAA defensive coach David Gibbs takes over as Houston's defensive coordinator in 2013. The 20-year coaching veteran has been part of a coaching staff that has played in a bowl game in seven of his 11 years on the collegiate level. The latest came in his last collegiate coaching stop when he served as defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2005. The Tiger defense ranked sixth nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 15.5 points per game, while ranking 11th in sacks with 39 and 16th in third-down defense.
    » Also new to the Houston defensive staff is linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves. 28-year coaching veteran has been part of a coaching staff that has played in a bowl in 12 of his last 15 seasons including back-to-back BCS National Championship appearances at Miami.
    » In his second season at Houston, Ricky Logo took over the entire defensive line while Zac Spavital, the longest tenured assistant coach, handles the secondary for the sixth season.

     WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
    » After two games this season, Houston's defensive numbers look drastically different from what they looked like after two games in 2012...

    Opponents Totals Points Total Yards Pass Yards Rush Yards Turnovers Avg. TOP W/L
    2013 (first 2 games) 26 672 468 204 7 29:59 2-0
    2012 (first 2 games) 86 1,042 549 493 1 37:10 0-2

     LIMITING THE OPPOSITION
    » In holding Southern and Temple to 13 points each, the Houston defense held back-to-back opponents to 13 points or less for the first time since the 1989 Houston defense held Baylor to 10 points and Temple to seven points in its third and fourth games of the season. The 1989 defense opened the season by limiting its four first opponents to a combined 24 points en route to allowing just 150 points on the year.
    » The back-to-back 13 point totals to open in the season is also the lowest combined point total from Houston opposition since the `89 team held UNLV (0) and Arizona State (7) to a combined seven points to open the season.
    » After spotting Temple 13 points in the first half, the Third Ward Defense held the Owls to no points and just 105 total yards in the second half.

    CAREER DOUBLE DIGIT TACKLE EFFORTS
    1. Derrick Mathews11
    2. Trevon Stewart 6
    3. Kent Brooks 4
    4. Efrem Oliphant 3
    5. Zach McMillian 2
    6. Adrian McDonald 1
    Colton Valencia 1
     TACKLING MACHINES
    » With the loss of the most experienced player on the team in strongside linebacker Phillip Steward, new linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves looks to replace Steward and starting middle linebacker Everett Daniels in 2013.
    » Hargreaves' track record coaching linebackers speaks for itself. With seven linebackers at Miami alone drafted, Hargreaves also has Butkus Award, Nagurski Trophy and the Bednarik Award winners on his resume along with two of three finalists for the Butkus Award in 2003.
    » The group's lone returning starter from 2012, Derrick Mathews is the defense's most experienced player with 27 career starts and moves to the middle for 2013 after starting 26 straight games on the weakside. The junior has posted triple-digit tackles in his first two seasons on campus including 126 last season. His 80 assisted tackles in 2012 was the third-best single-season assisted tackle total in Houston history.
    » Replacing Mathews on the weakside will be senior George Bamfo, a veteran of 35 career games who seemed to click in the spring. Backing Bamfo is junior Efrem Oliphant, a veteran of 23 career games with three career starts as a true freshman in 2010 when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team.
    » On the strongside, junior Efrem Oliphant, a veteran of 24 career games with four career starts including three as a true freshman in 2010 when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team.
    » The linebacking group welcomed two newcomers in the spring in sophomore Elandon Roberts, who transferred from Morgan State, and freshman Caleb Tucker, who enrolled early from high school in Monroe, La. In his lone season at Morgan State, Roberts was a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, given to the nation's top freshman on the FCS level, as he finished the year with 107 tackles, two sacks, one interception and broke up two passes.

     SECONDARY STARTERS
    » With all four starters from the 2012 season finale returning, the Houston secondary is in a battle with the offensive line as the team's most experienced group.
    » The group has also made a name for itself in the takeaway department, recording five of the team's seven turnovers.
    » Behind linebacker Derrick Mathews with 28 starts, senior cornerback Zach McMillian has the most starts of all defensive players with 27 career starts. The No. 2 corner on the 2012 team until D.J. Hayden went down with a season-ending injury, McMillian stepped up into the lead role and finished the season with interceptions in four of the last five games including all three games that Hayden missed. It didn't take long for McMillian to get his first pick of the season this year as he intercepted Temple's Connor Reilly on the first play of Houston's win in Philadelphia.
    » Also affected by Hayden's injury was senior corner Thomas Bates who started the final three games of the season at the No. 2 corner. In those three games Bates collected 26 tackles after only totaling nine tackles in the first nine games of the season. Bates also led the team in passes broken up, with 10 including five in the three games he started.
    » At free safety, Trevon Stewart returns after starting the final 10 games of 2012 at the position en route to earning FWAA Freshman All-America honors. The Patterson, La., native also broke up seven passes. Stewart has already gotten his hand on the ball in 2013 as he has recorded a fumble recovery in each of Houston's two wins.
    » Adrian McDonald started two games in 2012 at nickel back before starting the season-finale at strong safety. A high school quarterback in his first year on defense, McDonald finished his lone start with eight tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. The Lawton, Okla., native also picked off two passes on the season. McDonald has started strong in 2013, with 10 tackles and recording an interception that helped seal Houston's win at Temple.

     LOOK AT THE LINEBACKERS
    » The group's lone returning starter from 2012, Derrick Mathews is the defense's most experienced player with 28 career starts and moves to the middle for 2013 after last season on the weakside. The junior has posted triple-digit tackles in his first two seasons on campus including 126 last season. His 80 assisted tackles in 2012 was the third-best single-season assisted tackle total in Houston history.
    » Mathews' replacement on the weakside is junior Efrem Oliphant, a veteran of 25 career games with five career starts, including three as a true freshman in 2010 when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. He is backed by George Bamfo, a veteran of 36 career games who seemed to click in the spring.
    » On the strongside, redshirt-freshman Steve Taylor is expected to receive his first start against the Owls. He'll be backed up by sophomore Adrian Bennett.

     LEAVE IT TO LEONE

    » Senior Richie Leone handles the starting punting duties for the fourth straight year. In addition to punting, Leone is also Houston's kickoff specialist and placekicking to his resume this season.
    » With his seven field goals through two games, Leone leads the nation with 3.5 field goals per game. The seven account for 21 of his 28 points on the season, a number that ranks third nationally and leads The American Athletic Conference.
    » With just six punts through six games, Leone does not qualify for the NCAA rankings (threshold is 3.6 punts per game), but his average of 44.7 yards per punt would currently rank 16th nationally. Four of Leone's punts have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line with two kicks over 50 yards.
    » Leone's high, hanging punts have helped Houston drive its opponents backwards as its opponents have three returns for a loss of seven yards, ranking second nationally.
    » Leone was named The American Athletic Conference's Special Teams Player of the Week in week 1 after his first career game handling all three specialist positions. Leone averaged 47 yards on his four punts, three of which were placed inside Southern's 20-yard line, and registered his first career points as he finished the game with two field goals and six extra points. Leone also had eight kickoffs with an average of 64 yards per kick with three resulting in touchbacks.
    » Leone followed his first performance as a kicker with a five field goal effort at Temple. He became just the third kicker in Houston history to hit at least five field goals in a game including a career-long 40-yard field goal.
    » As a punter, the Roswell, Ga., native earned First Team All-Conference USA honors last year as he tied the Houston school record with an average punt of 45.5 yards. The average is the second-best nationally among all returning punters.
    » Leone currently ranks second in UH history with an average of 43.1 yards per punt on his career.
    » Leone placed 18 of his punts inside opponents' 20-yard line including nine inside the 10-yard line. Twenty of Leone's 60 punts exceeded 50 yards including four over 60 yards and a career-long 77-yard punt vs. Louisiana Tech. Just 21 of Leone's punts were returned with opponents calling for 24 fair catches with just six touchbacks on the year.
    » Leone also handles kickoff duties for the Cougars with 25 touchbacks on 71 attempts in 2012.
    » Sophomore Dylan Seibert backs Leone at punter after transferring to Houston from Oklahoma at the start of fall camp. The Tulsa, Okla., native did not see any game action at OU but has quickly impressed in the Houston camp. Seibert also grabbed starting holder duties in the fall.
    » Highly-touted freshman kicker Ty Cummings joined Houston in August. The Southake Carroll product was rated the nation's top kicker by Scout and backs Leone on kickoffs. Cummings hit three kickoffs in Houston's season opener against Southern with an average of 60.7 yards per kick with one touchback.
    » At deep snapper, sophomore Nolan Frese takes over. The Roanoke, Texas, native was ranked by Chris Sailer Kicking as the No. 1 long snapper in the state of Texas in 2010 and the No. 7 long snapper in the nation.

     RETURN DEPARTMENT
    » Tony Levine and special teams coordinator Jamie Christian will have plenty of options to work with in the return game as seven of the nine Cougars with multiple returns in 2012 return this season.
    » Junior Damian Payne, the only returning player with multiple punt returns in 2012, taking back nine punts for a total of 33 yards (3.7 average), is Houston's starting punt returner. Sophomore Larry McDuffey started as punt returner against Southern and had two returns for two yards after not returning any punts in his first year on campus. Opposing punters in 2012 forced 19 fair catches from Cougar returners while placing 27 punts inside the Houston 20-yard line.
    » At kick returner, Houston has one new face to the team and one new face to the kick return position. Sophomore Justin Hicks, who received the Offensive Scout Team MVP in 2012, is paired with freshman Demarcus Ayers as Houston's starting kick returns.
    » Ayers is the only player to return a kick this season and leads The American Athletic Conference with an average return of 24.8 yards per return with a long return of 39 yards.
    » Sophomore Ryan Jackson was the only Houston player to hit double digits in kick returns as he led the way with 14 returns for 304 yards (21.7 average). Junior Daniel Spencer had four returns for 69 yards (17.2 average) while sophomore Kenneth Farrow's total of three returns for 128 yards (42.7 average) was boosted by a team best 61-yard return at Marshall.
    » Other returners with multiple kick returns were sophomore Larry McDuffey (3-63), junior Aaron Johnson (2-9) and junior Damian Payne (2-42).

     UP FRONT
    » The only returning defensive lineman that was a regular in the 2012 starting lineup is junior defensive tackle Joey Mbu. With eight starts last season, Mbu had 27 tackles on the year while constantly holding up the point of attack.
    » After starting at Houston as a defensive back before moving to linebacker, Eric Eiland has now made the move to defensive end as he continues to bulk up without losing his quickness. A former minor league baseball player, Eiland exploded in the season finale of his freshman year with four tackles, a sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
    » After being dinged up against Southern, Eiland is doubtful for Houston's game vs. Rice. Junior college transfer Trevor Harris will slide up to replace Eiland after recording two tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked extra point against Southern. He'll be backed up by true freshman Tyus Bowser who also had two tackles in Houston's season opener. Bowser recorded 24 sacks as a high school senior at John Tyler High School in Tyler, Texas.
    » Junior defensive end Eric Braswell holds down the starting end spot. Braswell has 14 career starts while his backup, Cameron Malveaux, has bulked up to 252 pounds on his 6-6 frame. He is joined on the starting lineup chart by sophomore defensive tackle Tomme Mark who now has two career starts and picked off a pass in Houston's season opener.

    START CHART
    Player 2013 Streak Career
    Offense
    Cloud (OL) - - 26
    Harper (OL) 2 28 28
    Forsch (OL) 2 3 21
    Piland (QB) 2 2 20
    Greenberry (WR) 2 12 13
    Oragwu (OL) 1 - 11
    Redman (OL) 2 8 10
    Spencer (WR) 2 2 9
    Maxwell (WR) 2 7 7
    McDuffey (WR) 2 6 6
    Farrow (RB) 2 3 5
    D. Sims (OL) 1 1 4
    Ros (WR) - - 3
    Jackson (RB) - - 1
    Johnson (OL) 2 2 2
    Defense
    Mathews (LB) 2 28 28
    McMillian (CB) 2 18 27
    Braswell (DL) 2 2 15
    Brooks (S) - - 14
    Stewart (DB) 2 12 12
    Valencia (S) - - 10
    Mbu (DL) 2 2 10
    Bates (CB) 2 5 8
    McDonald (S) 2 4 5
    Olifphant (LB) 2 2 5
    Bamfo (LB) 2 3 4
    Mark (DT) 2 2 3
    Eiland (DE) 1 - 1
    Harris (DE) 1 1 1
     RETURNING RETURNERS
    » Tony Levine and special teams coordinator Jamie Christian will have plenty of options to work with in the return game as seven of the nine Cougars with multiple returns in 2012 return this season.
    » Junior Damian Payne, the only returning player with multiple punt returns in 2012, taking back nine punts for a total of 33 yards (3.7 average), is Houston's starting punt returner. Sophomore Larry McDuffey started as punt returner against Southern and had two returns for two yards after not returning any punts in his first year on campus. Opposing punters in 2012 forced 19 fair catches from Cougar returners while placing 27 punts inside the Houston 20-yard line.
    » At kick returner, Houston has one new face to the team and one new face to the kick return position. Sophomore Justin Hicks, who received the Offensive Scout Team MVP in 2012, is paired with freshman Demarcus Ayers as Houston's starting kick returns.
    » Ayers is the only player to return a kick this season and leads The American Athletic Conference with an average return of 24.8 yards per return with a long return of 39 yards.
    » Sophomore Ryan Jackson was the only Houston player to hit double digits in kick returns as he led the way with 14 returns for 304 yards (21.7 average). Junior Daniel Spencer had four returns for 69 yards (17.2 average) while sophomore Kenneth Farrow's total of three returns for 128 yards (42.7 average) was boosted by a team best 61-yard return at Marshall.
    » Other returners with multiple kick returns were sophomore Larry McDuffey (3-63), junior Aaron Johnson (2-9) and junior Damian Payne (2-42).
     

     

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