|THE GAME AT A GLANCE|
|Date||Saturday, Oct. 14|
|Time||3 p.m. CT|
|Venue||H.A. Chapman Field|
|Radio||KPRC 950 AM|
HITS ON HOUSTON
« Houston (4-1, 2-0 The American) returns to the road for its third American Conference showdown at 3 p.m. Saturday when it faces Tulsa (1-5, 0-2 The American). Saturday's game airs on ESPNews and on KPRC 950 AM with radio pregame coverage starting at 2 p.m.
« Houston will look to extend its two-game winning streak, both American Conference wins, while Tulsa is looking to snap a four-game losing streak after dropping an early morning road game at Tulane, 62-28.
« Houston will look to extend its lead atop The American's all-time win list. Since the league's inception, Houston leads all members with 25 wins over conference opponents. UCF is second with 21 wins over the same span.
« Houston enters the game tied with TCU for most wins by an FBS school in the state of Texas since the start of the 2014 season with 34 wins in that span. Baylor and Texas A&M are tied for third with 28 wins while Texas Tech is fifth with 20 wins.
« Saturday features Houston's No. 12 scoring defense (16.2 points per game) against Tulsa's No. 43 scoring offense (33.8 points per game). The UH defense also ranks No. 8 in red zone defense and No. 18 pass efficiency defense.
« The #HTownTakeover defense is also taking the ball away in the air, ranking No. 13 nationally with eight interceptions while safeties Garrett Davis and Terrell Williams are tied at No. 9 nationally with three interceptions each.
« The defense leads the nation, allowing a touchdown in only 33.3 percent of its opponents trips to the red zone.
« The Houston offensive line will look to continue its strong start as it ranks No. 10 nationally with only four pass sacks allowed after holding SMU, who entered last week's game as the nation's leader with 21 sacks on the year, to no sacks.
« Houston's Linell Bonner is sixth nationally with an average of eight receptions per game. The number is second The American as the senior is sixth in the league with an average of 75 receiving yards per game.
« UH is seventh nationally with an average of 29 yards per kick return while John Leday is 13th nationally with an average of 31.3 yards.
« Houston sophomore defensive tackle Ed Oliver entered 2017 after one of the most explosive seasons by a true freshman in college football. The Houston native earned first-team All-America honors and was named The American's Rookie of the Year after totaling 23 tackles for loss, second nationally. He totaled 47 solo tackles, second best among all linemen nationally while leading all linemen with nine pass breakups.
« Oliver started the season with a bang, with 11 tackles at Arizona. In just his 16th game vs. Texas Tech, Oliver added a tackle for loss to give him 26.5 for his career. Oliver is ninth nationally with two forced fumbles this season. The sophomore leads all players nationally with a career average of 1.44 tackles for loss per game.
« Houston linebacker Matthew Adams is No. 19 nationally and second in The American with an average of 9.6 tackles per game.
« UH ranks 10th nationally and the best in Texas with nine seasons with at least eight wins since 2006. LSU, Boise State and Oklahoma lead the way with 11 such seasons since 2016 while six teams, including The American's Navy, are tied with 10 such seasons.
« The Texas Tech loss snapped the longest winning streak by a non-autonomous 5 team against autonomous 5 opponents with seven wins over the last four seasons. Houston picked up wins over Arizona, Oklahoma, Florida State, Vanderbilt, Louisville (2x) and Pitt during the streak.
« With its win over No. 3 Louisville last year, Houston has a program-record six straight wins over top-25 opponents, a number that's second nationally among active streaks against ranked opponents. It also marked Houston's fourth straight win over an AP Top 10 team (three of which have come in the last three seasons), which leads the nation.
« Houston and Alabama were the only two teams to claim double-digit wins over two top-10 teams in 2016.
« Houston is one of just four programs nationally with at least 13 wins on two different occasions over the last six years, joining Alabama, Clemson and Florida State in accomplishing the feat.
« The 2017 senior class enters the game with 34 wins, which currently ranks fifth on the Houston history for wins by a class. The 2017 senior class needs four more wins to tie the 2016 senior class for most wins in program history.
ABOUT THE 2017 COUGARS
« Since 2014, Houston is tied with TCU for the most wins among state of Texas FBS schools with 34 wins. The Cougars and Horned Frogs are six wins ahead of Baylor and Texas A&M, while standing 14 games ahead of Texas Tech in that span.
« Houston also leads the state of Texas among FBS schools with nine seasons of at least eight wins since 2006. TCU is second with eight seasons while Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech are tied for third with seven each.
« After three years of competition, the 2017 senior class is the fifth-most winningest class in Houston football history with 34 wins since starting in 2014. The class is only four wins away from the record of 38 established by the 2016 senior class.
« Houston started 5-0 in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016 for the first time in program history. The Cougars are looking for at least eight wins to give them a fifth straight season of such, which would be a first in program history.
« Over 2015-16, Houston had 22 wins, the fourth-best total in the nation over the span behind the 28 wins of Alabama and Clemson, and 23 of Ohio State.
« Houston's 22 wins over 2015-16 marked the best two-season total in program history, topping the 21 wins from 2014-15.
« No. 3 Oklahoma became the highest-ranked foe to fall to Houston since the Cougars defeated No. 3 Texas, 29-15, on Nov. 10, 1984. OU would be the first No. 3 team to fall to Houston in 2016, as the Cougars would defeat No. 3 Louisville, 36-10, on Nov. 17, sacking eventual Heisman winner Lamar Jackson 11 times.
« With its 36-10 win over No. 3 Louisville last season, Houston has won six straight against AP top-25 teams, second nationally, and a nation's best four straight against AP top-10 teams.
« In its third season under head coach Philip Montgomery, Tulsa enters Saturday at 1-5 and 0-2 in The American. The Golden Hurricane split its opening two games with a loss at Oklahoma State (59-24) and a win over Louisiana (66-42) before losing its next four games to Toledo (54-51), New Mexico (16-13), Navy (31-21) and Tulane (62-28).
« Tulsa is led offensively by senior running back D'Angelo Brewer who has run for 684 yards and six touchdowns on 143 carries. Freshman Shamari Brooks also has six rushing touchdowns along with 393 yards on 64 attempts. Sophomore quarterback Chad President has thrown for 809 yards and two touchdowns on 71-of-126 passing while also rushing for 365 yards and five touchdowns on 48 attempts. Junior receiver Justin Hobbs leads Tulsa in receiving with 29 receptions for 449 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore Keenen Johnson has 27 receptions for 321 yards.
« Defensively, the Golden Hurricane are led by junior safety McKinley Whitfield who has 56 tackles and one pass breakup. Senior defensive end Jeremy Smith leads Tulsa with three sacks on the year. Senior linebacker Craig Suits leads Tulsa with two interceptions on the year.
« Saturday's matchup is the 42nd meeting between the two schools with Houston owning a 23-18 series lead. Houston currently owns a three-game winning streak in the series, its second-longest winning streak against a conference opponent behind six straight wins over Temple.
« Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery spent five seasons (2003-07) coaching Houston's running backs and quarterbacks, his final two years being elevated to co-offensive coordinator. During that time, he spent two seasons (2005-06) on the UH staff with current UH co-defensive coordinator Clay Jennings, who oversaw the Cougars' safeties at the time.
« Tulsa offensive line coach Mike Bloesch was a four-year letterman at UH (2005-08) and spent the 2014 season in Houston as an offensive quality control assistant.
« Tulsa quarterbacks coach Beau Trahan was an offensive graduate assistant at Houston in 2004.
DEGREES IN HAND
« Nine Houston student-athletes entered the season having already earned an undergraduate degree. Linell Bonner, Reggie Chevis (Texas A&M), Nomluis Fruge, D'Juan Hines, Ellis Jefferson (Arizona State), Deon Mix (Auburn), Kyle Postma, Byron Simpson and Nick Thurman have all completed degree requirements prior to this season.
« Houston ranks 17th nationally with nine players having earned degrees prior to the start of the season.
TOP 25 RANKINGS
« Houston entered 2016 at No. 15 in the AP poll, its highest ranking since checking in at No. 12 in the 1991 AP preseason poll.
« Following its win over Oklahoma, Houston moved up to No. 6, its highest AP ranking since No. 3 on Nov. 10, 1990. It also marked the first time to be in the top 10 in the month of September since Sept. 8, 1980.
« Houston spent 16 straight weeks in the AP Top 25 over 2015-16, the fourth-longest in program history and the longest since a record streak of 42 weeks from 1988-91.
« Houston also spent five weeks in the AP top 10 in 2016, the third-longest stint in UH history and the longest since 15 straight weeks in 1979-80.
ON THE OFFENSIVE
« Since 2006, only Oregon and Texas Tech have racked up more yards than Houston who has 73,396 yards in that time.
Rank Team Total Yards (06-present)
1. Oregon 76,451
2. Texas Tech 73,399
3. Houston 73,396
4. Oklahoma 73,079
5. Nevada 66,596
« Houston has scored in 217 straight games dating back to Sept. 30, 2000.
« Six of Houston's 23 scoring drives this season have lasted less than two minutes with three lasting less than one minute, the quickest only 29 seconds with a two-play, 19-yard drive vs. Texas Tech.
« Houston has five scoring drives of four plays or less including two, two-play drives.
« The versatility of the offense is showing up as five different players have rushing touchdowns for Houston while six different players have receiving touchdowns and three different players have passing touchdowns. Last season saw seven players with rushing scores, eight with receiving scores and two with passing touchdowns.
« With a balanced attack, Houston was one of just 15 schools nationally in 2016 to average over 145 yards per game rushing (147.1) and over 295 yards passing per game (296.3).
« The Cougars were also one of 19 teams nationally with at least 29 rushing touchdowns and 24 passing touchdowns.
« Houston was 17th nationally with 225 plays of 10+ yards.
« Against Louisville, Houston scored 16 points above the Cardinals' defensive scoring average and scored the most on UL since the Cardinals gave up 42 points to No. 5 Clemson earlier in the season.
« Houston totaled 624 yards against Memphis in 2016, its fifth game over 600 yards of total offense since the start of the 2015 season. Houston now has 75 games with 600+ yards in program history.
« Since 2015, Houston has 11 games with 500+ yards of total offense and has scored more than 40 points 12 times and more than 50 points five times.
A NEW LOOK UNDER CENTER
« With the graduation of Greg Ward Jr., the Houston program lost its second-most winningest quarterback in program history with 27 career wins.
« Ward closed his career among the program's top five for career passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and total offense. He finished 10th in program history for career rushing yards and set the career rushing record by a QB with 2,375 yards.
« Two QBs have had the opportunity to fill in for Ward this season in Kyle Allen (starts vs. Arizona, Rice & Cincinnati) and Kyle Postma (starts vs. Temple and SMU). The two have helped Houston rank second nationally in completion percentage at 73.1 percent as Postma is 16th nationally with a completion rate of 67.9 percent.
« Allen, who sat out 2016 under NCAA transfer rules after transferring from Texas A&M. The nation's No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 recruiting class, Allen ran Houston's scout team during his year off.
« With the Aggies, Allen started 14 games over two seasons while seeing action in 20 games total. His sophomore season saw Allen lead Texas A&M in passing and total offense, completing 160-of-283 passes for 2,210 yards and 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions while adding 102 yards on the ground.
« Allen threw for 1,322 yards and 16 TDs as a freshman against seven interceptions on 118-of-192 passing. He closed the year with MVP honors in a Liberty Bowl win over West Virginia, throwing for 294 yards and four TDs while rushing for 33 yards.
« Allen set the Houston single-game completion percentage record against Rice, completing 31-of-33 passes for 93.9 percent.
« He started the Rice game completing his first 13 attempts and finished the night with 309 yards, his first 300-yard passing game with Houston, and the fourth of his career.
« Kyle Postma, who has four career starts under center (3-1 in the span), earned the start at QB at Temple. He finished the day with 226 yards with one TD and one INT on 25-of-36 passing. He had a game-high 81 yards rushing on 15 attempts.
« He had his first multiple passing TD game of his career vs. SMU, throwing for two scores on the day while also hauling in a 22-yard touchdown reception off a D'Eriq King reverse.
« Postma came off the bench with 7:26 left in the fourth against Texas Tech and lead Houston to back-to-back touchdowns on a 10-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 9-yard Postma rushing TD on 4th-and-1, and a 8-play, 76-yard drive finished by Postma hitting Bonner on a 4-yard score. He finished 8-of-13 passing with 100 yards while leading Houston with 52 yards rushing on four attempts.
« For his career, he has thrown for 1,210 yards and seven touchdowns against six interceptions on 127-of-195 passing.
« His first three games of action came at receiver in 2015 when he caught six passes for 145 yards and a touchdown before being moved back to QB due to injuries suffered by others.
HANDY TOOLS TO HAVE
« The wide receiver position provides Houston with talented leaders mixed with a group of promising underclassmen. The two leaders in Steven Dunbar (32) and Linell Bonner (15) have combined for 47 career starts and 71 career games.
« Bonner is sixth nationally and leads The American with an average of 8.0 receptions per game while Dunbar is fourth in the league with an average of 6.0 receptions per game. John Leday is 12th with an average of 3.8 receptions per game.
« Bonner led all returning receivers in The American and was second nationally with 98 receptions in 2016. He looks to follow up on a season that saw the former walk-on total 1,118 yards and three touchdowns.
« The former walk on opened the year with nine receptions for 59 yards and a score at Arizona, before upping his total by one with 10 receptions for 132 yards vs. Rice. He recorded his 11th career game with 7+ receptions against Texas Tech, finishing with seven receptions for 66 yards and a score.
« With 155 receptions, Bonner ranks 13th on Houston's career receptions chart and needs six more to move into the top 10.
« Bonner now has 1,692 career receiving yards to rank 17th on the Houston career receiving yards chart. He needs 27 more to move into the top 15 and 584 yards to move into the top 10.
« He missed the SMU game with a head injury.
« Dunbar has led Houston in receiving yards in three games this season with 72 off six receptions at Arizona, 83 off six receptions vs. Texas Tech and 65 yards off six receptions vs. SMU.
« He has posted six receptions in all five games this season for Houston.
« The senior ranks 22nd on the Houston career receptions chart and needs three to move into the top 20, sitting at 134 receptions for 1,715 yards, good for 19th on the UH chart. He needs three yards to move into 18th for career receiving yards.
« Leday stepped up vs. Rice, recording career highs in receptions (7) and yards (60) while pulling in his first touchdown since the 2013 season opener.
« The group was joined by a sizeable addition in Arizona State graduate transfer Ellis Jefferson. The Denton, Texas, native saw action in 38 games over three seasons at Arizona State but was lost for two games after suffering injuries vs. Arizona.
« Jefferson's first catch in a Houston uniform was a big one, pulling in a 3-yard slant pass to give Houston a nine-point lead heading into halftime vs. SMU.
« Uber athlete D'Eriq King stepped up vs. Temple, leading the #HTownTakeover with seven receptions for 51 yards. The sophomore quarterback/wide receiver also had four carries for 15 yards including a 13-yard touchdown.
« King continued his production vs. SMU, tying for the team lead with six receptions, going for 47 yards including Houston's first score of the day, an 18-yard touchdown reception. King was also responsible for a passing touchdown, taking a reverse from John Leday and throwing a 22-yard strike to Kyle Postma for his second career passing touchdown.
BACK TO THE BACKS
« Houston returned every scholarship running back from 2016 led by junior Duke Catalon who totaled 528 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 145 attempts. He also added 44 receptions for 281 yards and three scores.
« Senior Dillon Birden, who picked up his sixth career start at Arizona, teams with Catalon after running for 289 yards and six scores on 62 attempts in 2016 while pulling in seven receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown.
« The two combined for 161 rushing yards at Arizona with Birden rushing 14 times for 83 yards and Catalon 18 times for 78 yards. Birden accounted for the lone rushing TD of the night, a 3-yard dive.
« Catalon had the breakout game he had been waiting for with a 177 yards and two touchdowns against SMU, his first career 100-yard game and his first game with multiple rushing touchdowns. He averaged eight yards a carry with his 177 yards on 22 attempts.
« Catalon's 177 yards were the most by a UH running back in a game since Bryce Beall ran for 195 yards vs. UTEP on Sept. 10, 2010.
« With Birden out vs. SMU, sophomore Mulbah Car stepped up with 67 yards on nine attempts for an average of 7.4 yards per rush.
« Car also led Houston in rushing vs. Rice, his first action of the year, totaling 59 yards on 11 attempts with a TD.
« Freshman Davion Mitchell joined the program after rushing for 3,283 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns at Rockdale High School (TX). He made his debut vs. Rice, rushing six times for 23 yards.
PAVING THE WAY
« The group that returned the most in terms of experience offers new offensive line coach Chris Scelfo a variety of parts to move around the line. Scelfo stepped into a position with eight returners combining for 86 career starts and 133 career games played entering 2017. All eight started at least five games in 2016.
« Center Will Noble leads the line in terms of starting experience with 25 career starts, including eight in 2015 en route to earning FWAA Freshman All-America honors.
« Senior Marcus Oliver leads the team in overall experience with 39 career games played while totaling 20 career starts. Junior Mason Denley also has experience at the guard position, owning 12 career starts, with six in 2016.
« Sophomore Josh Jones stepped into the starting role at left tackle for the 2016 opener and never looked back, starting the last 18 games after redshirting his first season on campus. On the opposite side, Braylon Jones started the final six games of the season at right tackle as a true freshman after stepping in for an injured Na'Ty Rodgers who returns for his senior season after starting the first seven games of 2016.
« Braylon Jones shifted to guard to start the season at Arizona, giving Rodgers the return to right tackle.
« Houston ranks 10th nationally in allowing just four sacks this season.
« The group did not allow a sack or a quarterback hurry to Arizona.
« Against Temple, who entered the game fourth nationally with 15 sacks, the line held the Owls to no sacks.
« One week later, the line upped the ante, holding the nation's leader in sacks, SMU, to no sacks.
THIRD WARD DEFENSE
« The Houston defense is one of just 10 nationally to hold opponents to an average of under 25 points scoring per game in each of the last four seasons. Taking it down a point further, UH is one of just seven schools to hold its opponents under 24 points per game in each of the last four seasons, joining Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Ohio State, Stanford and Wisconsin in accomplishing the feat.
« The Houston defense finished 2016 with the No. 4 rushing defense in the nation, allowing an average of 100.2 yards per game. Houston also ranked 13th in total defense (319.6 yards per game), ninth in first down defense (213) and 30th in scoring defense (23.5 points per game). UH led The American in rushing defense and first down defense and was second behind Temple in total defense and scoring defense.
« The defense has started 2017 right where it ended in 2016, as it ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 16.2 points per game.
« Houston ranks eighth nationally in red zone defense, allowing a score on an average of 66.7 percent of attempts, 12-of-18 attempts. The Cougars have allowed only six touchdowns in their opponents' 18 trips into the red zone, or 33.3 percent which leads the nation.
« The Cougars are 18th nationally with a pass efficiency defense rating of 107.5, ranking second in The American.
« Houston leads The American in third zone defense, allowing a first down on only 25-of-77 attempts, a 32 percent conversion rate.
« SMU entered its game at Houston No. 3 nationally in scoring offense with an average of 48.2 points per game and left TDECU Stadium with just 22 points.
« Against Temple, the Houston defense held the Owls scoreless in the first half, snapping a 51-game streak that Temple had scored in the first half.
« The defense held Texas Tech to half its scoring average entering the game, holding the Red Raiders who were averaging 54.0 points per game to 27 points, and just three touchdowns. Although the Cougars gave up 521 yards, 234 yards came off just three plays.
« Houston held Rice to only three points, a field goal with 2:47 remaining in the game. It was Rice's lowest scoring output since falling to No. 4 Nebraska, 48-3, on Sept. 20, 2001.
« The Houston defense got on the scoreboard at Arizona, forcing a safety as Arizona was forced to recover a fumble in its own end zone.
« Since the start of the 2013 season, no program has taken the ball away from opposing offenses more than Houston with 137 turnovers forced in that time with 11 in 2017, 18 in 2016, 35 in 2015, 30 in 2014 and 43 in 2013.
« UH has forced multiple turnovers in 47 of its last 65 games.
« Houston ranks 13th nationally and second in The American with 11 interceptions while Garrett Davis and Terrell Williams are tied for ninth nationally and The American lead with three interceptions each.
« Davis and Emeke Egbule teamed up for one of Houston's biggest turnovers of 2016 when Davis hit Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans for a fumble-forcing sack that Egbule scooped up and returned 24 yards for the winning touchdown with 1:21 left in Houston's 38-31 win.
« Houston opened the season with multiple turnovers at Arizona as Ed Oliver forced his fourth career fumble that was recovered by Alexander Myres, and Davis ended a late fourth-quarter drive with his first career interception.
« The Cougars made it two-for-two with multiple turnover games vs. Rice, as Matthew Adams and Leroy Godfrey both recovered fumbles and Payton Turner had an interception.
« Houston turned its three turnovers vs. Rice into 17 points as the Houston offense had to travel just a total of 58 yards to pay dirt following the defense's work.
« They followed it up one week later with a touchdown, having to travel just 19 yards, following Terrell Williams' first career interception vs. Texas Tech.
« Davis had a career-high two interceptions vs. Temple, both within his own 12-yard line to snuff out scoring threats while Isaiah Johnson added his first career interception in the game.
« Houston had a player with two interceptions in a game for the second straight week after Terrell Williams picked off two passes to end SMU's final two drives. Both came in the red zone with WIlliams picking off passes on his own 1-yard line and 6-yard line.
« The American Athletic Conference and the nation were quickly introduced to Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver last season as the true freshman earned seven First Team All-America honors, FWAA Freshman All-America Honors and was named The American's Rookie of the Year.
« Ranked the nation's No. 2 defensive tackle in the 2016 signing class by ESPN, Oliver did not wait long to make his impression felt for Houston, earning his first career start vs. Oklahoma, leading all linemen with seven tackles including two sacks.
« Oliver finished second nationally in 2016 with 23 tackles for loss and leads all returning defensive linemen nationally.
« Playing out of the tackle spot on a three-man line, he was second nationally among all defensive linemen with 47 solo tackles and 13th among all defensive linemen nationally with 66 total tackles.
« Oliver also led all defensive linemen nationally with nine pass breakups. The number also led all non-defensive backs in The American and was sixth in the league regardless of position.
« Oliver's 66 tackles were second among all freshmen in The American, regardless of position, and led all freshmen defensive linemen nationally. His five sacks led all freshmen in The American. Oliver also led Houston and finished second in The American with three forced fumbles, a number that ranked second nationally among freshmen.
« He wasted no time to open the 2017 season, totaling 11 tackles at Arizona, his third career game with double-digit tackles. Oliver also had 1.5 tackles for loss, his ninth career game with multiple tackles for loss.
« Oliver added his 26.5 career tackle for loss vs. Texas Tech.
« He has started off the season with forced fumbles in the first two games, and now has five in his career, ranking 13th in Houston history. His next forced fumble would move him into eighth and he is five away from tying the Houston career record.
« He leads all active players nationally with a career average of 1.44 tackles for loss per game and ranks second nationally with a career average of 0.28 forced fumbles per game.
« After recording one tackle vs. Temple, Oliver left the game after taking a diving block to the knee in the Owls' backfield.
« Although a game time decision vs. SMU and limited with an MCL sprain, Oliver still managed four tackles, three quarterback hurries and one pass breakup.
« Nick Thurman was second among UH linemen in 2016 with 26 tackles and two sacks, part of his 5.5 tackles for loss. He's totaled 72 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss in 37 career games played. He picked up his first sack of the season vs. Texas Tech.
« Texas A&M graduate transfer Reggie Chevis stepped into the starting lineup at Arizona for an injured Jerard Carter. He had a career-high four tackles vs. Texas Tech before matching it vs. SMU, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
« True freshman Payton Turner had an impressive debut vs. Rice, snagging an interception on his first career play to stop an Owls' first-quarter drive. On Rice's next drive, Turner picked up his first career sack to force a three-and-out and a Rice punt.
« Turner added a career-high four stops at Temple including a tackle for loss.
NO FLY ZONE
« While Houston returned its two starting safeties in Garrett Davis and Khalil Williams, the Cougars looked to replace two players with starting cornerback experience in Brandon and Howard Wilson. The two combined for 44 starts and 78 career games played. Jeremy Winchester with 10 career starts and 27 games played at the position returned in 2017.
« A senior, Khalil Williams staked claim to one of Houston's defensive back spots after starting all 13 games in 2016 and owns 21 career starts. The secondary's leading returning tackler with 69 stops in 2016, Williams is being used in the nickel back role held by Brandon Wilson in 2016.
« Williams has started off the 2017 season with seven tackles for loss through the first five games, a number that leads all defensive backs nationally. He ranks fourth in The American regardless of position.
« Davis, who owns 17 starts, totaled 65 tackles including seven for a loss last season. He made a big difference in the season-opening win, making his first career interception to snuff out an Arizona drive at his own 32-yard line with 3:49 left in the game.
« Davis also totaled 11 tackles, his second career game with double-digit stops.
« He added to his career interception total with a career-best two at Temple, while totaling five tackles and now ranks ninth nationally this season with three picks.
« Senior Terrell Williams, who owns 10 starts in two seasons, is also patrolling the Houston secondary this season, breaking up four passes while ranking ninth nationally with three interceptions after picking off two passes vs. SMU.
« Senior Alexander Myres and junior Isaiah Johnson both made their first career starts at cornerback at Arizona with Myres recovering a fumble and making one tackle and Johnson making three tackles. Johnson made the jump to defense after two seasons at receiver while Myres, a walk-on, was rewarded with a scholarship prior to the start of the season.
« Johnson had a career-high 11 tackles vs. SMU while Myers returned to the starting lineup and also finished with a career-high six stops.
« Against Texas Tech, Winchester made his 11th career start in place of an injured Myres and finished with six tackles and one pass breakup while Johnson had a career-high eight tackles and one breakup.
« Myres returned to the field against Temple in a game that saw Johnson make his first career interception while breaking up a career-best two passes.
« Playing in a third-down package, Joeal Williams made his first career sack against SMU, an eight-yard loss on a 3rd-and-13 in the third quarter.
« Senior Matthew Adams, who led the team in tackles with 82 stops last year also forced two fumbles and had two sacks in 2016.
« Adams has led Houston in tackles in three of five games with 11 tackles against Rice, a career-high 15 stops vs. Texas Tech and nine stops at Temple.
« The Texas Tech game marked his eighth career game with at least 10 tackles.
« Adams is second in The American with an average of 9.6 tackles per game, a number that ranks 19th nationally.
« Fellow senior D'Juan Hines returned to the group after starting seven games in 2016, finishing with 44 stops.
« Hines posted a career-high 13 stops vs. Texas Tech while forcing his first career forced fumble.
« The two combined to make 17 stops at Arizona with Hines leading the way with nine tackles.
« Junior Emeke Egbule stepped in with five starts last season and had one of five Houston defensive touchdowns after scooping and scoring the game-winning touchdown against Tulsa on a 24-yard fumble return. He recorded his second career sack at Arizona.
« Following a common linebacker theme, Egbule recorded a career-high eight tackles against Texas Tech.
« Godfrey recovered his first career fumble vs. Rice while also making his first career solo tackle for loss.
« Sophomore punter Dane Roy returned after his first season in America as a 27-year old true freshman in 2016.
« The Bunyip, Australia native and former Australian rules football player for Richmond Central placed 20 of his 59 punts in 2016 inside his opponent's 20-yard line with only four touchbacks. His high-hanging punts helped Houston rank seventh nationally in punt return defense, allowing just 2.6 yards per return while forcing 26 fair catches.
« Roy ranked third among returning punters in The American Conference after averaging 40.6 yards per punt in 2016.
« Roy dropped all three of his punts vs. Rice inside the Owls' 20-yard line, with one inside the 10-yard line, forcing two fair catches and holding Rice without a punt return. He earned The American's Special Teams Player of the Week honor for his efforts.
« Roy continued to show his precision vs. Texas Tech, dropping three of his four punts inside the Red Raiders' 10-yard line and a fourth inside the 20 with just one touchback. His punts resulted in three fair catches and only two returns for a total of one yard.
« Roy leads The American with 13 punts inside the 20-yard line and leads the league with 50 percent of his punts landing inside the opponents 20-yard line.
« Prior to arriving in Houston, Roy won the longest kick competition at the AFL grand final in Melbourne, Australia, after booting a torpedo 73 meters, which equates to 79 yards. Roy, who stands 6-7, also has a personal-best hang time of 5.4 seconds.
THE RETURNS DEPARTMENT
« The early returns look good for Houston, as the #HTownTakeover is seventh nationally and leads The American in kickoff returns with an average of 29.0 yards per return.
« The Houston punt return defense is 11th nationally and leads The American with an average of 1.0 yard per return.
« Senior John Leday wasted no time in a new role, taking his first career kickoff return 81 yards to the Arizona 16-yard line, setting up the Houston offense for a short touchdown drive. Leday also added a 24-yard return later in the game.
« Leday took his one return vs. Texas Tech back 47 yards and ranks fifth nationally with two kickoff returns of at least 40 yards and 10th nationally with three kickoff returns of at least 30 yards.
« Leday ranks 13th nationally and second in The American with an average of 31.3 yards per return.
« Derek McLemore joined the kick returner fray vs. Temple, returning one kick for 25 yards.
« Texas State graduate transfer walk-on Brandon McDowell took over the punt returning duties for Houston, making one return for six yards at Arizona.
« McDowell also saw action at kick returner vs. Rice, returning one kick for 35 yards.
« Yet another new name in the Houston special teams, junior Caden Novikoff walked on to the Houston program in training camp and grabbed the kicking reigns.
« He has successfully converted multiple field goals in three of five games this season and leads Houston in scoring this year 32 points.
« Novikoff connected on a career-long 45-yard field goal vs. Texas Tech while converting all three extra point attempts.
SNAP IT TO ME
« Unfortunately Houston lost its starting long snapper in senior Byron Simpson in late May due to a non-football related medical condition. The Cat Spring, Texas, native started all 13 games at the position in 2016.
« The Cougars turned to Simpson's backup in 2016, junior Nick Wildberger. The San Antonio, Texas, native redshirted in 2016 and made his debut at Arizona, totaling 10 long snaps.