Game Notes - Houston at UTSA

    Sept. 25, 2013


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    THE GAME AT A GLANCE
    Date Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013
    Time 3 p.m.
    Location San Antonio
    Venue Alamodome
    Capacity 65,000
    Surface Synthetic Turf
    TV FSN
    Radio SportsTalk 790
    Audio All Access
    Live Stats UHCougars.com

     THE GAME
    » Houston travels to San Antonio this Saturday at 3 p.m. for the first ever meeting between the Cougars and UTSA. The game is the first game of a home-and-home series with the Roadrunners traveling to Houston in 2014 to return the back end of the agreement.
    » Houston's all-time record in its first 67 years of existence is 391-341-15.
    » The Houston and UTSA coaching staffs will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches this week to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. Fans are encouraged to donate online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999.
    » 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 3-0 for the 13th time in program history and the first time since 2011 and is looking to start the year 4-0 for the eighth time in program history. Houston is one of 29 program nationally that enter the weekend undefeated including three teams (Houston, Louisville, UCF) from The American Athletic Conference. Twenty-one of the 29 are in action this weekend.
    » Houston's two-deep depth chart sports 26 underclassmen, including eight true freshmen, compared to the 23 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 | 9-7 (2nd year as HC/6th year at UH)

    Larry Coker | Northeastern State, 1970 | 74-27 (9th year), 13-12 (3rd year at UTSA)

     FAST FACTS ON THE SERIES
    » Series Record Overall First Meeting

     PLAYERS TO WATCH
    Deontay Greenberry, WR, SO.
    Sophomore receiver Deontay Greenberry is one of nine players nationally entering the weekend with a streak of 100-yard receiving games. Utah's Dres Anderson leads the way with three straight 100-yard games with Greenberry and eight others trailing. One game after pulling in 14 receptions for 165 yards at Temple, Greenberry had six for 146 yards and a TD vs. Rice. The sophomore leads The American Athletic Conference with an average of 127 receiving yards per game, a number that ranks fifth nationally. Greenberry needs just 181 yards to surpass his 2012 receiving total.
    Adrian McDonald, S, SO.
    Touted by the Houston staff as a ball-hawking safety in the team's fall camp, sophomore strong safety Adrian McDonald is slated to start his seventh career game against UTSA, and will play for the first time collegiately in front of his father who is returning from being stationed in South Korea as a member of the United States Army. Despite not playing on the defensive side of the ball in high school, McDonald has been responsible for five turnovers in 12 career games including a game-clinching interception in Houston's win over Temple and a fumble recovery last week against Rice.


    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 third season under head coach Larry Coker, UTSA enters Saturday's game with a record of 2-2. The Roadrunners opened the year with a 21-13 road win over New Mexico before falling to Oklahoma State (56-13) and Arizona (38-13). UTSA opened Conference USA play Saturday night with a 32-13 at UTEP.
    » The Roadrunners finished 2012 8-4 after starting the season 5-0 and closing the year with a three-game winning streak.
    » UTSA is third in Conference USA in total offense with an average of 415.5 yards per game while its defense is fifth in the league in allowing 380.5 yards per game. Senior quarterback Eric Soza leads the way offensively with an average of 282 yards of total offense per game. Junior safety Triston Wade paces the Roadrunners with 35 tackles while freshman defensive end Codie Brooks has two sacks.


     TIES WITH UTSA
    » Houston assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator Travis Bush spent the 2011 season at UTSA as the team's offensive coordinator. Bush and UTSA offensive coordinator Kevin Brown are well versed with each other as Brown was an assistant coach under Bush at Texas State from 2007-10 when Bush was the team's offensive coordinator as did UTSA tight end's coach Charlie Reeve. Brown was also a wide receiver for two seasons and a graduate assistant for one season while Bush was a graduate assistant at TCU from 2001-03.
    » UTSA Head Coach Larry Coker and Houston linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves spent eight seasons together at Miami where Hargreaves oversaw linebackers and Coker was the team's offensive coordinator before being promoted to head coach. In the eight-year span, the two coaches enjoyed eight straight bowl appearances and won the 2001 National Championship.
    » Coker was also the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 1983-89 when Houston's offensive coordinator Doug Meacham was earning All-Big Eight honors as an offensive lineman.

     LAST TIME OUT
    » Houston opened the season 3-0 for the 13th time in program history with a 31-26 win over crosstown rival Rice.
    » After falling behind 13-7, Houston scored 24 straight points to take a 31-13 lead with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter. With its lead cut to 31-20, UH had a blocked field goal returned 62 yards for a touchdown. The Cougar defense held up on the two-point conversion and again after Rice recovered an onside kick to preserve the win.
    » The Houston defense forced multiple turnovers for the 11th straight game as Tyus Boswer picked off Rice QB Taylor McHargue and Adrian McDonald recovered a fumble.
    » Offensively, the Houston play calling was balanced as the Cougars had 37 rushing attempts and 36 passing attempts and finished with 329 passing yards and 165 rushing yards.
    » Offensively the Cougars were led by WR Deontay Greenberry who recorded his second straight game with over 100 yards receiving, finishing with 146 yards on six receptions including one touchdown. RB Ryan Jackson accumulated 144 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns - one rushing and one receiving.
    » At quarterback, freshman John O'Korn started the game and finished with 281 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-35 passing with one interception while classmate Greg Ward Jr. had 48 yards on 3-of-3 passing with 80 rushing yards off nine carries.

     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 3-4 all time at Reliant Stadium with its first win in the stadium coming last season when it defeated crosstown rival Rice, 35-14.
    » 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 nine seniors among its 49 spots on offense and defense. Senior punter Richie Leone is not counted in the nine 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 eight true freshmen, five redshirt freshmen, 13 sophomores, 14 juniors and the nine seniors.
    » Eight 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, QB John O'Korn and QB Greg Ward Jr. with O'Korn receiving the lone start among the group.
    » 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 3 0 1.000 W, 31-26 vs. Rice at UTSA
    Louisville 0 0 .000 4 0 1.000 W, Florida International, 72-0 -
    UCF 0 0 .000 3 0 1.000 - South Carolina
    Cincinnati 0 0 .000 3 1 .750 W, at Miami (Ohio), 14-0 -
    Rutgers 0 0 .000 3 1 .750 W, Arkansas, 28-24 -
    SMU 0 0 .000 1 2 .333 L, at Texas A&M, 42-13 at TCU
    Conneticut 0 0 .000 0 3 .000 L, Michigan, 24-21 at Buffalo
    Memphis 0 0 .000 1 2 .333 W, Arkansas State, 31-7 -
    USF 0 0 .000 0 3 .000 - Miami (Fla.)
    Temple 0 1 .000 0 3 .000 - at Idaho

    2013 NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
      Conference Overall    
    TEAM W L Pct. W L Pct. LAST WEEK THIS WEEK
    Southern (SWAC) 2 0 1.000 2 2 .500 W, at Mississippi Valley St., 17-7 Jackson State
    Rice (C-USA) 0 0 .000 1 2 .333 L, vs. Houstn, 31-26 Florida Atlantic
    UTSA (C-USA) 1 0 1.000 2 2 .500 W, at UTEP, 32-13 Houston
    BYU (Independent) - - - 1 2 .333 L, Utah, 20-13 Middle Tennessee

     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- 3-0 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 has won the last three conferences in its first year in the new league and has a combined conference record of 33-22-1 the six combined seasons as a league newcomer.

     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 49,971 yards in that time.

    Rank Team Total Yards (06-present) Season Average (06-12)
    1. HOUSTON 49,971 6,902
    2. Oregon 46,993 6,387
    3. Oklahoma 46,173 6,386
    4. Nevada 45,752 6,334
    5. Boise State 43,859 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.
    » Houston has returned to its ways this season as 10 of its 21 scoring drives this season have lasted under two minutes including five in 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. Eight drives have lasted five plays or less.

    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.
    » After recording 12 plays of 20 yards or longer in the first two games of the season, the Cougars exploded for 13 plays of 20 yards or more against Rice, including three touchdowns.
    » Daniel Spencer owns the team lead with seven explosive plays including two touchdowns - one rushing and one receiving. Deontay Greenberry has six explosive plays, all receiving, while freshman Demarcus Ayers has five kick returns of 20 yards or more.
    » 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 135 rushing attempts on the season to 122 passing attempts.
    » After rushing 50 times and attempting 38 passes against Southern, Houston was completely balanced against Temple with 48 rushing attempts and passing attempts. The balance returned against Rice with 37 rushing attempts vs. 36 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.

     OPENING UP A CAN OF O'KORN
    » With David Piland recovering from a concussion suffered against Temple, true freshman John O'Korn received his first career start against Rice. The first-year Cougar finished the day with 281 yards on 15-of-33 passing with three touchdowns and an interception, becoming just the third player in UH history to throw for at least three touchdowns in his first career start.
    » 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 played in the first two games of the season. Against Southern he played the game's fourth series and 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 series at Temple, but remained in the game the rest of the way as he finished with 233 yards on 23-of-31 passing.
    » A second true freshman, Greg Ward Jr., saw his first career action against Rice and showed dual-threat ability as he finished with 80 rushing yards on nine carries and was 3-of-3 for 48 yards in the air.
    » The win over Rice marked just the second time in Houston history that two true freshman quarterbacks played in the same game. The first came in 2010 when Piland and Terrance Broadway (now at Louisiana) each played against Mississippi State and Memphis.
    » Depth at QB is provided by Ward 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).

     NO SIGN OF SOPHOMORE SLUMPS

    » Carrying on the youthful theme for Houston, there has been no sign of sophomore slumps for three of the team's offensive threats in WR Deontay Greenberry and RBs Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow.
    » Through three games, Jackson has already surpassed his 2012 rushing total of 252 yards by 64 yards. The sophomore from Angleton, Texas, has 316 yards and four touchdowns on 51 carries after totaling 252 yards and three TDs on 59 carries in 2012.
    » Jackson rushed for 100 over yards in Houston's first two games, part of a three-game streak of 100-yard rushing games dating back to last season's finale.
    » Jackson has scored on the ground in each of Houston's three games this season and added a 32-yard TD reception against Rice.
    » 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 three 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 three games of 2012.
    » As is the case with Farrow and Jackson, Greenberry's season is off to a great start and he too 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 and followed it with six receptions for 146 yards and a touchdown against Rice.

     TAKE IT AWAY, DON'T GIVE IT AWAY
    » Through three games, Houston has committed just three turnovers: two fumbles and an interception.
    » On the other side of the ball, the Houston defense has forced nine turnovers, five fumbles and four interceptions, to give the Cougars a +6 turnover difference, a number that leads The American Athletic Conference and ranks third nationally. The Houston defense ranks 15th nationally by forcing its nine turnovers.
    » Defensive backs Zach McMillian and Adrian McDonald along with defensive tackle Tomme Mark and defensive end Tyus Bowser each have interceptions while George Bamfo, Adrian McDonald, Trevon Stewart (2) and Earl Foster all recorded fumble recoveries.
    » The Houston defense has forced multiple turnovers in all three games this season - Southern (4), Temple (3) and Rice (2) - and has forced multiple turnovers in 11 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.
    » In the season's first three games, 11 UH players have recorded a reception with four players - Daniel Spencer (2), Deontay Greenberry (1), Ryan Jackson (1) and John Leday (1) - pulling in touchdowns.
    Opponent# with a reception# with receiving TDs100-yard receivers
    Southern 8 3 1 - Spencer
    Temple 6 0 1
    Rice 7 3 1 - Greenberry

    » Houston has had 100-yard receivers in each of its three games this season as Daniel Spencer (102 vs. Southern) and Deontay Greenberry (165 at Temple, 145 vs. Rice) 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 29 career starts including 12 at left tackle in 2012, has moved back to LT over to replace Oragwu after starting the year at LG.
    » With Oragwu out, the group consists of six players with a combined 96 games of starting experience - LT Rowdy Harper (29), LG Ty Cloud (26), RG/C Kevin Forsch (22), C Bryce Redman (11), G/T DeAnthony Sims (5) and T Zach Johnson (3).
    » The group of starters sports an average height of 6-3 with an average weight of 311 pounds.
    » The line currently ranks third in The American Athletic Conference four sacks given up through three games.
    » 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 three games, UH's defensive numbers look drastically different from what they looked like after three games in 2012...

    Opponents Totals Points Total Yards Pass Yards Rush Yards Turnovers W/L
    2013 (first 3 games) 52 1,135 757 378 9 3-0
    2012 (first 3 games) 123 1,609 869 740 6 0-3

    » In holding its first three opponents to a combined 52 points, Houston has its best three-game start to the season in regards to scoring defense since 1999 when the Cougars held its first three opponents to a combined 40 points en route to starting 2-1.
    » This season also marks the first since 1989 that UH has not allowed more than 26 points to any of its first three opponents.
    » 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.

     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
    Adrian McDonald 2
    7. Colton Valencia 1
    Steven Taylor 1
     TACKLING MACHINES
    » With its opponents winning the time of possession battle, Houston defenders were given the opportunity to pile up some numbers in 2012 and several did so as 10 Cougars racked up 37 double-digit tackle efforts.
    » So far this season three Cougars have 10 or more tackles in a game: Derrick Mathews (13 vs. Temple), Steven Taylor (11 vs. Rice) and Adrian McDonald (10 vs. Rice).
    » Derrick Mathews led the way with eight double-digit tackle efforts in 2012. Mathews had a game-high 13 stops at Temple to record his 11th career double-digit tackle game.
    » The junior middle linebacker is currently 24th nationally with an average of 10 tackles per game.
    » In his first year on the collegiate level, Trevon Stewart led all freshmen nationally with 126 tackles and was second to Marshall's Dominick LeGrande (132) as the nation's top defensive back in tackles.
    » Stewart was second behind Mathews with his six games with at least 10 tackles including a Houston season-high 21 stops against East Carolina. The 21-tackle total marked the seventh-best tackle game in Houston history.
    » Mathews and Stewart finished tied for second on the team with 126 tackles each, just two behind the 128 of team leader, 2012 senior Phillip Steward.

     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' 29 starts, senior cornerback Zach McMillian has the most starts of all defensive players with 28 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. A hard hitter, Bates leads the team with two forced fumbles through three games.
    » 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 first 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 at strong safety 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 20 tackles. an interception that helped seal Houston's win at Temple and a fumble recovery vs. Rice.

     LOOK AT THE LINEBACKERS
    » The group's lone returning starter from 2012, Derrick Mathews is the defense's most experienced player with 29 career starts and moves to the middle in 2013 after spending 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 26 career games with six career starts, including three as a true freshman in 2010 when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. A junior, Oliphant has already has 4.0 tackles for loss, eclipsing the 3.5 TFLs he recorded in his first two seasons of action. Oliphant also has his first career solo sack and forced fumble this season. 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 received his first start against Rice and did not disappoint as he finished the game with 11 tackles, a half sack and broke up a pass. He's backed by sophomore Adrian Bennett.

     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.
    » Mbu is paired with sophomore Tomme Mark, who had an interception in Houston's season opener, and the two are part of a rotation that includes junior Jeremiah Farley and redshirt-freshman B.J. Singleton. Farley leads the group with seven tackles including a 15-yard sack and a forced fumble while Singleton blocked Rice's first extra point attempt, a point that would come up huge late in the game.
    » 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.
    » Eiland is questionable for Houston's game at UTSA and junior college transfer Trevor Harris will more than likely replace him for the third straight game. The junior college transfer has performed admirably with 19 tackles, fourth best on the team, including three that have gone for a loss.
    » True freshman Tyus Bowser exploded onto the scene in Houston's win over Rice as the d-end had seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception while dropped back in coverage and four quarterback hurries. Bowser, who will join the Houston basketball team at the end of the season, 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 15 career starts while his backup, Cameron Malveaux, has bulked up to 252 pounds on his 6-6 frame.
    » With Braswell expected to miss Saturday's game, Malveaux may be in line for his first career start while freshman Chauntez Jackson will back him up. Jackson is a two-way player as a tight end and defensive end and saw action in the season opener against Southern.

     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 eight field goals through two games, Leone leads the nation with 2.7 field goals per game. The eight account for 24 of his 35 points on the season, a number that ranks 13th nationally and second in The American Athletic Conference.
    » With 13 punts through three games, Leone's average of 40.2 yards per punt rank 60th nationally. Six of Leone's 13 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 in 2012 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 Southlake Carroll product was rated the nation's top kicker by Scout and backs Leone on kickoffs. Cummings has four kickoffs this season with an average of 60.0 yards per kick and 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.

    START CHART
    Player 2013 Streak Career
    Offense
    Cloud (OL) - - 26
    Harper (OL) 3 29 29
    Forsch (OL) 3 4 22
    Piland (QB) 2 - 20
    Greenberry (WR) 3 13 14
    Oragwu (OL) 1 - 11
    Redman (OL) 3 9 11
    Spencer (WR) 3 3 10
    Maxwell (WR) 3 8 8
    McDuffey (WR) 3 7 7
    Farrow (RB) 2 - 5
    D. Sims (OL) 2 2 5
    Ros (WR) - - 3
    Johnson (OL) 3 3 3
    Jackson (RB) 1 1 2
    O'Korn (QB) 1 1 1
    Defense
    Mathews (LB) 3 29 29
    McMillian (CB) 3 19 28
    Braswell (DL) 3 3 16
    Brooks (S) - - 14
    Stewart (DB) 3 13 13
    Valencia (S) - - 10
    Mbu (DL) 3 3 11
    Bates (CB) 3 6 9
    McDonald (S) 3 5 6
    Olifphant (LB) 3 3 6
    Bamfo (LB) 2 - 4
    Mark (DT) 3 3 4
    Harris (DE) 2 2 2
    Eiland (DE) 1 - 1
    Taylor (LB) 1 1 1
     RETURN DEPARTMENT
    » Tony Levine and special teams coordinator Jamie Christian 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 and has six returns for 40 yards including a long of 31 yards against Rice. Junior Markeith Ambles backs him up.
    » 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 is second in The American Athletic Conference with an average return of 24.3 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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