"It was a great day at practice today, our team attitude was terrific," Dimel said. "The team knows what it has to do from this point forward and that was very encouraging. I thought this was going to be a key day. We have a lot of young players who are in starting assignments for the first time and I was on guard. We showed a lot of fortitude at today's practice and I'm very pleased."
Heading into the SMU game, a total of 17 of the 22 Cougars on the first string offense and defense are new to their starting roles from a year ago. Houston welcomes the return of receiver Kendall Williams to the starting lineup this week. Williams (Dallas, TX/Roosevelt HS) was injured in the LSU game (Sept. 9), missed the Army game and played some series against Texas. Dimel said he will now start ahead of Shawn Broadus and Damien Montgomery at outside receiver. Four of the team's top receivers from last season are sidelined with injuries.
Defensively Dimel will evaluate this week's practice to determine the starter at stud-safety, the fifth defensive back in the Cougars' 4-2-5 scheme. As of Tuesday senior David Williams (Sweeny, TX/Sweeny H.S) and redshirt freshman Heard Robinson (Houston/Nimitz H.S) were even on the depth chart.
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Houston and SMU since the Southwest Conference disbanded in 1995. The teams have met 19 times dating back to 1975, but Saturday will be first meeting at Houston's O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium. The "I-45 Showdown" has been held at a number of different venues, and has even been played in a foreign country. In addition to games at the Astrodome, Texas Stadium, the Cotton Bowl and Owenby Stadium on the SMU campus, the 1983 UH-SMU game was played at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. and will be Houston's last home game for
almost a full month. The Cougars won't return home to "The Quinn" until a
C-USA contest with nationally-ranked Southern Miss on October 28.