Game Notes - Houston vs. BYU

    Oct. 15, 2013


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    THE GAME AT A GLANCE
    Date Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013
    Time 2:30 p.m.
    Location Houston
    Venue Reliant Stadium
    Capacity 71,000
    Surface Synthetic Turf
    TV ESPNews
    Radio SportsTalk 790
    Audio All Access
    Live Stats UHCougars.com
     THE GAME
    » University of Houston's Homecoming weekend features the Cougars' final non-conference game of the season as it hosts BYU at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19, at Reliant Stadium. The two teams have never met as Houston enters the meeting with a record of 5-0 while BYU comes in at 4-2 and riding a three-game winning streak.
    » Houston's all-time record in its first 67 years of existence is 393-341-15 and this 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 5-0 for just the fifth time in program history and the first time since 2011. The Cougars are looking to start the year 6-0 for the fifth time in program history. UH is one of 14 programs nationally that enter the weekend undefeated including two teams (Houston, Louisville) from The American. Eleven of the 14 are in action this weekend.
    » Houston is receiving votes in both the AP and USA Today Coaches polls for the first time this season.
    » Houston's depth chart sports 23 underclassmen, including five true freshmen, vs. 23 upperclassmen, including just seven seniors.
    » The Cougars lead the nation with a turnover margin of +14. They are second nationally with just four turnovers lost and third with 18 turnovers gained.
    » UH has outscored its opponents 115-33 in the second half of games this season.
    » 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)

    Bronco Mendenhall | Oregon State, 1988 | 78-31 (9th year as HC/11th year at BYU)

     FAST FACTS ON THE SERIES
    » Series Record: First Meeting

     PLAYERS TO WATCH
    Bryce Redman, C, JR.
    The leader of a Houston offensive line that ranks second in the conference and 18th nationally with just five sacks allowed, Redman has started the last 11 games for the Cougars. A team captain, Redman will be responsible for line calls against a BYU defense that has collected 34 tackles for loss, 19 quarterback hurries and nine sacks, led by linebacker Kyle Van Noy who ranks ninth nationally with 10 tackles for loss including three sacks and 10 hurries.
    Joey Mbu, DT, JR.
    Houston's defense has been built with strength up the middle and it starts with junior defensive tackle Joey Mbu. He'll be charged with serving as the first line of defense against a BYU rushing attack that ranks 13th nationally in averaging 262.8 rushing yards per game and has two players averaging over 100 rushing yards a game in QB Taysom Hill (107.3) and RB Jamaal Williams (108.6). Mbu is part of a Houston defense that ranks 26th nationally in allowing 126.6 rushing yards per game and has not allowed a 100-yard rusher 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 ninth season under head coach Bronco Mendenhall, BYU enters Saturday's game with a record of 4-2 and are riding a three-game winning streak. The Cougars opened up the year with a 19-16 road loss to Virginia before four consecutive games in the state of Utah. After defeating Texas, 40-21, BYU narrowly lost to state rival Utah, 20-13, before winning three straight over Middle Tennessee, 37-10, Utah State, 31-14, and Georgia Tech, 38-20.
    » BYU is 30th nationally with an average of 473.3 yards per game while its defense is 25th nationally in allowing 346.5 yards per game.
    » Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill (6-2, 221) leads the team with 644 yards rushing with seven touchdowns and 1,263 passing yards with five touchdowns. Sophomore running back Jamaal Williams (6-0, 200), who has only played in five games, also averages over 100 yards a game for BYU with 543 yards on 107 carries. Senior wide receiver Cody Hoffman (6-4, 210) leads the team in receiving with 18 receptions for 311 yards and one touchdown in four games.
    » Senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy (6-3, 245), a preseason All-American, leads the team and is ninth nationally with 10 tackles for loss including three sacks. Van Noy also has four pass breakups, one interception and 10 quarterback hurries. Fellow senior LB Uani Unga (6-1, 233) leads the team with 56 tackles.
    » Houston and BYU have never met.



     TIES WITH BYU
    « Houston's Director of Sports Performance, Brian Odom, and BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae were both members of the Arizona staff in 2011.
    « BYU has six players from the state of Texas on its roster including two from Houston (Garrett and Mitchell Juergens).

     LAST TIME OUT
    » Houston opened the season 5-0 for the fifth time in program history with a 25-15 American Athletic Conference win over Memphis Saturday at BBVA Compass Stadium.
    » Houston's defense held Memphis without a touchdown, marking the first time this season the Cougars have held an opponent without a touchdown and the first time since holding East Carolina to just a field goal in a 56-3 win on Oct. 8, 2011.
    » The Houston defense also recovered four fumbles as it notched its 18th straight game with multiple turnovers and its third game this season with at least four forced turnovers. Derrick Mathews recovered two of the four fumbles for Houston.
    » After allowing Memphis to drive 61 yards for a field goal on the opening drive of the second half, the Houston defense allowed just 41 yards on the next five drives, forcing three punts and one fumble while allowing Memphis' final field goal of the game.
    » Kenneth Farrow returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with an injury suffered at Temple and finished with two rushing touchdowns, his first career game with multiple rushing TDs.
    » Daniel Spencer pulled in his third receiving touchdown of the season on Houston's opening drive as the Cougars covered 57 yards on six plays over 1:55, culminating with Spencer's 17-yard scoring pass from John O'Korn.
    » Richie Leone drilled four of his six punts inside the 20-yard line for an average of 47 yards per kick and connected on his lone field goal attempt from 24 yards.

     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 are now 1-0 at BBVA Compass Stadium with its 25-15 win over Memphis.

     YOUTH IS SERVED
    » When Houston takes the field, its two-deep depth chart will sport just seven seniors among its 46 spots on offense and defense. Senior punter Richie Leone is not counted in the seven 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, three redshirt freshmen, 15 sophomores, 16 juniors and the seven 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 Bowser (1) and O'Korn (3) each receiving starts.
    » 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 2 0 1.000 5 0 1.000 W, Memphis, 25-15 BYU
    Louisville 2 0 1.000 6 0 1.000 W, Rutgers, 24-10 UCF
    USF 2 0 1.000 2 4 .333 W, at Conneticut, 13-10 -
    UCF 1 0 1.000 4 1 .800 - at Louisville
    Cincinnati 1 1 .500 4 2 .667 W, Temple, 38-20 Conneticut
    Rutgers 1 1 .500 4 2 .667 L, at Louisville, 24-10 -
    SMU 0 1 .000 1 4 .200 - at Memphis
    Conneticut 0 1 .000 0 5 .000 L, USF, 13-10 at Cincinnati
    Memphis 0 2 .000 1 4 .200 L, at Houston, 25-15 SMU
    Temple 0 2 .000 0 6 .000 L, at Cincinnati, 38-20 Army

    2013 NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
      Conference Overall    
    TEAM W L Pct. W L Pct. LAST WEEK THIS WEEK
    Southern (SWAC) 3 1 .750 3 3 .500 W, Alabama A&M, 20-17 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
    Rice (C-USA) 3 0 1.000 4 2 .667 W, at UTSA, 27-21 at New Mexico State
    UTSA (C-USA) 1 2 .333 2 5 .286 L, Rice, 27-21 -
    BYU (Independent) - - - 4 2 .667 W, Georgia Tech, 38-20 at Houston

     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- 5-0 2-0/?
     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 34-22-1 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 29 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 50,709 yards in that time.
    » The Houston offense has scored in all 20 quarters this season, with touchdowns in 16 quarters and double digits in eight .
    » Houston ranks seventh nationally in percentage of drives resulting in a three-and-out. Just 14 of Houston's 75 offensive drives this season have resulted in a three-and-out (18.7 percent).

    Rank Team Total Yards (06-present) Season Average (06-12)
    1. HOUSTON 50,709 6,902
    2. Oregon 48,760 6,387
    3. Oklahoma 47,241 6,386
    4. Nevada 46,921 6,334
    5. Boise State 44,851 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 14 of its 32 scoring drives this season have lasted under two minutes including six in under one minute. Its quickest lasted just eight seconds as the Cougars covered 15 yards on one play, a Justin Hicks' 15-yard touchdown run at UTSA.
    » Nine 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 24 plays of 20 yards in wins over Rice and UTSA, including seven touchdowns. UH now has 45 explosive plays on the season.
    » Deontay Greenberry owns the team lead with 11 explosive plays including two touchdowns - all receptions. True freshman Demarcus Ayers has 10 kick returns of 20 yards or more while Daniel Spencer has seven explosive plays, six receiving and one rushing.
    » 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 oversees 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
    » Houston is one of just nine teams nationally who average over 185 rushing yards per game and 280 yards per game passing. (Houston, Oregon, Baylor, Boise State, Wyoming, Georgia, Florida State, UCLA, Texas A&M)
    » 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 196 rushing attempts on the season to 193 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. In the last three games, the spread between passing vs. rushing has not eclipsed seven attempts as UH threw 39 times and rushed 32 times at UTSA.
    » 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's career ended due to multiple concussions, 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.
    » In his first road start, O'Korn responded admirably as he led UH to a 59-28 win at UTSA with career highs in completions (24), attempts (36), yards (312) and touchdowns (4). O'Korn also added a career-high 31 yards on the ground in the win.
    » O'Korn played in the first two games of the season - entering on the games' fourth series by design. Against Southern he finished with 107 yards and three touchdowns on 11-of-15 passing while recording 233 yards on 23-of-31 passing at Temple.
    » O'Korn leads all true freshmen nationally with 11 passing touchdowns, a number that ranks third in The American Athletic Conference, and in passing efficiency at 148.5, which ranks fourth in the league.
    » O'Korn enters Saturday's game with 91 consecutive passes without an interception, a number that leads all freshmen nationally and is fifth nationally regardless of class.
    » 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.
    » A second true freshman, Greg Ward Jr., has provided a relief for O'Korn over the last two games, throwing for 77 yards on 5-of-6 passing while rushing for 91 yards on 13 attempts including his first career TD, a six-yard run at UTSA.
    » 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.
    » The win over Rice marked just the second time in Houston history that two true freshmen QBs 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.
    Rank (FBS True Freshman) Eff. Rank (FBS True Freshman) TDs
    1. John O'Korn, Houston 148.5 1. John O'Korn, Houston 11
    2. Davis Webb, Texas Tech 136.3 Christian Hackenburg, Penn State 11
    3. Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech 136.0 3. Jared Goff, Cal 9
    4. Christian Hackenburg, Penn State 131.3 Davis Webb, Texas Tech 9
    5. Jared Goff, Cal 128.2 5. Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech 8

     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 five games, Jackson has already surpassed his 2012 rushing total of 252 yards by 139 yards. The sophomore from Angleton, Texas, has 391 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries after totaling 252 yards and three TDs on 59 carries in 2012.
    » Jackson rushed for over 100 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 in four of Houston's five games this season with four rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns and ranks sixth in The American with an average of 7.2 points per game.
    » Sophomore walk-on RB Justin Hicks tallied his first career touchdown against Southern as he plunged in from one-yard out and has 94 yards on 18 carries this season including a second TD, a 15-yard run at UTSA.
    » If the first five games are any indication, both Farrow and Jackson should easily surpass their 2012 rushing totals with Jackson having already accomplished the feat and Farrow needing 258 more rushing yards.


    » 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, having already done so yardage wise by 37 yards and needs just nine receptions to eclipse last season.
    » After starting 11 games on the outside in 2012, Greenberry has moved to the inside and as the numbers show, the move has paid off. He set career highs with 14 receptions for 165 yards at Temple as the game opened a three-game streak of 100-yard receiving games, in fact Greenberry had three straight games of at least 146 receiving yards.

     TAKE IT AWAY, DON'T GIVE IT AWAY
    » Through five games, Houston leads the nation with a +14 turnover margin.
    » Through five games, Houston has committed just four turnovers: three fumbles and an interception. The four turnovers lost rank second nationally behind just Florida State (3).
    » On the other side of the ball, the Houston defense has forced 18 turnovers, 10 fumbles and eight interceptions, to rank third nationally and lead every team nationally who has played just five games by two turnovers. Houston trails just Tulane and Middle Tennessee State with 20 turnovers gained in seven games.
    » Seven different players have interceptions for the Houston defense with Zach McMillian recording two picks.
    » The Cougar defensive line has collected three interceptions as end Tyus Bowser and tackles Tomme Mark and B.J. Singleton all have one interception each.
    » Seven Cougars have fumble recoveries led by Trevon Stewart with three recoveries while eight have forced fumbles led by the two from Thomas Bates and Efrem Oliphant.
    » The Houston defense has forced multiple turnovers in all five games this season - Southern (4), Temple (3), Rice (2), UTSA (5) and Memphis (4) - and has forced multiple turnovers in 13 straight games dating back to 2012.
    » The 18 turnovers have resulted in 58 points including 12 scored directly by defenders (William Jackson, Brandon Wilson).
    » Players routinely credit the ability to create turnovers on the emphasis paid on turnovers in practice, especially in Turnover Tuesdays.

     A WHOLE CAST OF CHARACTERS
    » The 2013 receiving core has 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 five games, 12 UH players have recorded a reception with five players - Deontay Greenberry (3), Daniel Spencer (3), Xavier Maxwell (2), Ryan Jackson (2) 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 - Greenberry
    Rice 7 3 1 - Greenberry
    UTSA 7 3 1 - Greenberry
    Memphis 6 1 None

    » Houston has had 100-yard receivers in its first four games this season as Daniel Spencer (102 vs. Southern) and Deontay Greenberry (165 at Temple, 146 vs. Rice, 149 at UTSA) each accomplished the feat.
    » 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 knee injury and has missed the last four games. The senior was starting his first career game at left tackle after starting 10 games at right tackle in 2012. Rowdy Harper, who owns 31 career starts including 12 at left tackle in 2012, moved back to LT over to replace Oragwu after starting the year at LG.
    » The offensive line group consists of seven players with a combined 112 games of starting experience - Harper (31), LG Ty Cloud (26), RG/C Kevin Forsch (24), C Bryce Redman (13), Oragwu (11), G/T DeAnthony Sims (7) and T Zach Johnson (5).
    » The group of starters sports an average height of 6-3 with an average weight of 311 pounds.
    » The line currently ranks second in The American Athletic Conference and 18th nationally with five sacks given up.
    » 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 UH staff is linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves. The 28-year coaching veteran has been part of a 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 oversees the entire defensive line while Zac Spavital, the longest tenured assistant coach, handles the secondary for a sixth season.

     WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
    » After five games, UH's defensive numbers look drastically different from what they looked like after five games in 2012...
    Opponents Totals Total Def. Scoring Def. Rushing Def. Passing Eff. Def. Record
    2013 (first 5 games) 395.4 (60th) 19.0 (22nd) 126.6 (26th) 118.5 (42nd) 5-0
    2012 (first 5 games) 487.0 (113th) 31.6 (94th) 208.0 (104th) 131.4 (73rd) 2-3

     THE THIRD WARD D
    » In holding its first three opponents to a combined 52 points, Houston had 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.
    » Houston is one of eight teams nationally to not allow a 100-yard rusher this season (Houston, Syracuse, Western Kentucky, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Memphis, Ohio State, East Carolina) and has only allowed one player this season to rush for over 75 yards on the ground.
    » On average, the Houston defense forces 4.8 three-and-outs per game, a number that ranks second in The American behind Louisville at 5.8 three-and-outs per game. On 24 of Houston opponents' 72 drives, the Houston defense has gotten off the field in three plays or less.
    » Against Memphis, the Houston defense held the Tigers without a touchdown, marking the first time this season the Cougars have held an opponent without a touchdown and the first time since holding East Carolina to just a field goal in a 56-3 win on Oct. 8, 2011.
    » The Houston defense ranks third in The American and 13th nationally in allowing just 18 plays of 20 yards or longer.

     DEFENSIVE HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS
    » The Houston defense has shown its ability to clamp down in the second half of games this season as UH has outscored its opponents 115-33 in the second half of games this season...
    Opponents Totals Points Total Yards Pass Yards Rush Yards Turnovers
    First Half 62 (65.3%) 1,120 (56.5%) 764 (56.8%) 356 (56.2%) 9 (50%)
    Second Half 27 (28.4%)* 857 (43.5%) 580 (43.2%) 277 (43.8%) 9 (50%)

    *does not include six points from a blocked FG returned for a TD

    » 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. The UH defense has given up just three second half touchdowns, one third quarter TD to Southern and UTSA and one fourth quarter TD to Rice.
    » On its first drive of the second half, Memphis drove 61 yards in 10 plays to hit a 42-yard field goal and take a 12-10 lead over Houston. After that, the Cougars tightened up to limit Memphis to 41 yards and 18 plays on its next five drives. On the Tigers' final drive, they drove 48 yards on 16 plays before Houston forced a turnover on downs on its own 49-yard line.o no points and just 105 total yards in the second half.

    CAREER DOUBLE DIGIT TACKLE EFFORTS
    1. Derrick Mathews 12
    2. Trevon Stewart 6
    3. Efrem Oliphant 5
    4. Kent Brooks 4
    5. Zach McMillian 2
    Adrian McDonald 2
    7. Steven Taylor 1
    Colton Valencia 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 four Cougars have accounted for six games with 10 or more tackles: Derrick Mathews (13 at Temple, 10 vs. Memphis), Steven Taylor (11 vs. Rice), Adrian McDonald (10 vs. Rice) and Efrem Oliphant (11 at UTSA, 13 vs. Memphis).
    » Derrick Mathews led the way with eight double-digit tackle efforts in 2012. Mathews had a 10 stops vs. Memphis to record his 12th career double-digit tackle game.
    » The junior middle linebacker is currently 24th nationally with an average of 9.8 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 10 of the team's 18 turnovers.
    » Behind linebacker Derrick Mathews' 31 starts, senior cornerback Zach McMillian has the most starts of all defensive players with 30 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. McMillian is second in The American Athletic Conference with two interceptions in the season's first five games.
    » 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. Known as a hard hitter, Bates leads the team with two forced fumbles through five 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 three fumble recoveries and one interception. Stewart has also forced a fumble.
    » 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 33 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 31 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 leads the team through five games with 49 tackles and is fourth in The American Athletic Conference with an average of 9.8 tackles per game.
    » Mathews' replacement on the weakside is junior Efrem Oliphant, a veteran of 28 career games with eight career starts, including three as a true freshman in 2010 when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. A junior, Oliphant 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 has forced two fumbles this season. Over the last two games, Oliphant has totaled 24 tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
    » On the strongside, redshirt-freshman Steven 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. A rangy backer with great speed, Taylor leads the team with five pass breakups.

     UP FRONT
    » The Houston defensive line has been hands on this season as evident by the groups three interceptions - Tyus Bowser, Tomme Mark and B.J. Singleton - along with three blocked kicks - B.J. Singleton (2) and Trevor Harris (1).
    » 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. Mbu and Farley lead the defensive tackle group with 11 tackles. Farley leads the group with a 15-yard sack, part of his three tackles for loss.
    » 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 has missed games 2-4 with an injury suffered against Southern and junior college transfer Trevor Harris, a former wide receiver, replaced him in that span. The junior college transfer has performed admirably with 27 tackles, including 4.5 that have gone for a loss, two sacks and one forced fumble. With the return of Eiland vs. Memphis, Harris rightfully held on to his starting spot with Eiland starting opposite and finishing the game with four tackles on just 13 plays.
    » True freshman Tyus Bowser exploded onto the scene in Houston's win over Rice as the defensive 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, and picked up his team-leading third sack against Memphis.
    » Junior defensive end Eric Braswell has held down one starting end spot in three games and like Eiland, returned vs. Memphis after missing the UTSA game with an injury suffered vs. Rice. Braswell has 16 career starts while his backup, Cameron Malveaux, has bulked up to 252 pounds on his 6-6 frame.

     LEAVE IT TO LEONE

    START CHART
    Player 2013 Streak Career
    Offense
    Harper (OL) 5 31 29
    Cloud (OL) - - 26
    Forsch (OL) 5 6 24
    Piland (QB) 2 - 20
    Greenberry (WR) 5 15 16
    Redman (OL) 5 11 13
    Spencer (WR) 5 5 11
    Oragwu (OL) 1 - 11
    Maxwell (WR) 5 10 10
    McDuffey (WR) 5 9 9
    Sims (OL) 4 4 7
    Johnson (OL) 5 5 5
    Farrow (RB) 2 - 5
    D. Sims (OL) 2 2 5
    Ros (WR) - - 3
    Jackson (RB) 2 - 3
    O'Korn (QB) 3 3 3
    Brooks (RB) 1 1 1
    Defense
    Mathews (LB) 5 31 31
    McMillian (CB) 5 21 30
    Braswell (DL) 3 - 16
    Stewart (DB) 5 15 15
    Brooks (S) - - 14
    Mbu (DT) 5 5 13
    Bates (CB) 5 8 11
    Valencia (S) - - 10
    McDonald (S) 5 7 8
    Olifphant (LB) 5 5 8
    Mark (DT) 5 5 6
    Bamfo (LB) 2 - 4
    Harris (DE) 4 4 4
    Taylor (LB) 3 3 3
    Eiland (DE) 2 1 2
    Bowser (DE) 1 - 1
    » 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 10 field goals through five games, Leone is third nationally with 2.3 field goals per game. The 10 account for 30 of his 50 points on the season as he ranks eighth nationally and leads The American Athletic Conference with an average of 10 points per game.
    » With 22 punts through four games, Leone carries an average of 41.0 yards per punt. Thirteen of Leone's 22 punts have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line including four inside the 10 and four kicks over 50 yards.
    » The senior was named the Ray Guy Award Player of the Week Monday after Leone had six punts with a total of 282 yards, averaging 47 yards per punt in Houston's 25-15 win over Memphis. Four of Leone's punts were marked inside the 20-yard line, including one inside the 10-yard line, with one touchback. Leone's net average was 44 yards per punt and his longest punt was 58 yards. Leone's high, hanging kicks helped to hold Memphis to just one punt return for a loss of two yards as Memphis punt returners were forced to call three fair catches.
    » 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.
    » Leone currently ranks second in UH history with an average of 42.7 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 12 of his 33 kicks resulting in a touchback.
    » 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.
    » Freshman kicker Ty Cummings joined Houston in August. Cummings has five kickoffs this season with one touchback.
    » Sophomore Nolan Frese owns deep snapping duty. Frese 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.

     WE'VE GOT YOU COVERED
    » Leone's high, hanging punts have helped Houston drive its opponents backwards as its opponents have four returns for a loss of nine yards, which leads the nation. Temple's Jalen Fitzpatrick owns the longest punt return by an opponent this season as he took a Leone kick back a total of two yards.
    » Twelve of Leone's 22 punts have been fair caught by opponents.
    » Houston's kick coverage group has held its opponents to an average return of 20.1 yards per return, ranking 45th nationally and third in The American. FB Luke Stice leads the group with six tackles on kickoffs.
    » Richie Leone (12) and Ty Cummings (1) have a combined 13 touchbacks on Houston's 39 kickoffs.

     RETURN DEPARTMENT
    » 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 nine returns for 51 yards including a long of 31 yards against Rice. Junior Markeith Ambles backs him up and recorded his first punt return of the season at UTSA with a one-yard return.
    » At kick returner, Houston has two new faces manning the position as true freshman Demarcus Ayers and junior transfer Markeith Ambles handle the duty.
    » Ayers is the only player to return multiple kicks this season (13) and is second in The American Athletic Conference with an average return of 24.8 yards per return with a long return of 45 yards against Memphis.
    » The 45-yard return against Memphis was one of five returns over 20 yards that Ayers recorded against the Tigers as he finished with 144 return yards on five returns for an average of 28.8 yards per return.
    » Ambles also took his first kick return of the season back at UTSA, and quickly established himself as a threat with a 39-yard return.
     

     

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