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Game Notes: #HTownTakeover at USF

Oct. 24, 2017

GAME NOTES - HOUSTON | GAME NOTES - USF

THE GAME AT A GLANCE
Date Saturday, Oct. 28
Time 2:45 p.m. CT
Location Tampa, Fla.
Venue Raymond James Stadium
Capacity 65,857
Surface Natural Grass
TV ESPNU
Radio KPRC 950 AM
Live Stats UHCougars.com
HITS ON HOUSTON

« Houston (4-3, 2-2 The American) hits the road Saturday for a second straight showdown against a ranked team as it faces No. 17 USF (7-0, 4-0 The American). Saturday's game kicks off at 2:45 p.m. on ESPNU and on KPRC 950 AM with radio pregame coverage starting at 1:45 p.m.
« Houston is looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2013 after dropping a 42-38 decision to No. 24 Memphis while USF, owners of the nation's longest active winning streak at 12 wins, enters looking to keep pace with co-American East division leader UCF.
« 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 23 wins over the same span. USF is third with 22 wins. Memphis is fourth with 21 wins.
« Houston is second among FBS schools in Texas with 34 wins since the start of 2014. TCU leads the way with 36 wins in that span. Texas A&M is third with 29 wins while Baylor is fourth with 28 wins and Texas Tech is fifth with 20.
« Saturday's game will be the fifth this season the Houston defense has faced one of the nation's top-15 scoring offenses as USF enters the game No. 9 with an average of 41.6 points per game and has an NCAA record 24 straight games with at least 30 points.
« In its first four games vs. top-15 scoring offenses, Houston has held two (SMU and Arizona) to 20+ points below their scoring average and Texas Tech to 16 points below its average.
« The #HTownTakeover defense is also taking the ball away in the air, ranking No. 9 nationally with 10 interceptions while safety Garrett Davis is tied for The American lead and fifth nationally with four interceptions.
« Houston's Linell Bonner is 11th nationally with an average of 7.5 receptions per game while Steven Dunbar is 17th with an average of 6.9.
« UH is 17th nationally with an average of 24.4 yards per kick return while John Leday is 19th nationally with a return average of 26.3 yards per return.
« 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 20 games, Oliver has 30 tackles for loss for his career. The sophomore leads all players nationally with a career average of 1.48 tackles for loss per game.
« Houston linebacker D'Juan Hines are No. 21 nationally and third in The American with an average of 9.4 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 marked its 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 COUGARS

« Since 2014, Houston is second behind TCU for the most wins among state of Texas FBS schools with 34 wins. The Horned Frogs sit in the lead with 35 wins. The Cougars are five wins ahead of Texas A&M and six ahead of Baylor 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.
« The program lost 10 players from the 2016 roster who combined for 256 career starts.
« In his first year as head coach, Major Applewhite is dealing with a slightly depleted roster as the 2014-16 signing classes totaled 64 signees of which only 41 remain on the active roster. Twenty-three of the 64 have either suffered career-ending injuries, left the team or transferred.
« 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.


ABOUT USF

« In its first season under head coach Charlie Strong, USF enters Saturday at 7-0 and 4-0 in The American, defeating San Jose State (42-22), Stony Brook (31-17), Illinois (47-23), Temple (43-7), ECU (61-31), Cincinnati (33-3) and Tulane (34-28).
« USF is led offensively by senior quarterback Quinton Flowers who has thrown for 1,245 yards and 12 touchdowns against three interceptions on 89-of-172 passing while rushing for 613 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior running back Darius Tice leads the Bulls with 634 yards rushing and nine touchdowns while senior receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling leads with 28 receptions for 382 yards and four touchdowns.
« Defensively, the Bulls are led by senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez who has 47 tackles, six tackles for loss and two interceptions. Senior safety Devin Abraham is tied with Houston's Garrett Davis for The American lead with four interceptions while senior defensive lineman Bruce Hector is second in the league with 10 tackles for loss.
« Saturday's matchup is the fifth meeting between the two schools with each team claiming two wins in the previous four meetings as Houston has won the last two showdowns. The last meeting came in Tampa on Nov. 1, 2014, a 27-3 Houston win.
« USF offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert spent the 2005 season at Houston as a graduate assistant and offensive line coach Matt Mattox spent the 2005-06 seasons at Houston as a graduate assistant when current UH co-defensive coordinator Clay Jennings was the Cougars' safeties coach.
« Mattox also played offensive tackle and tight end at Houston in 2002 and 2003.


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.


ON THE OFFENSIVE

« Since 2006, only Oregon has racked up more yards than Houston who has 74,354 yards in that time.

Rank Team Total Yards (06-present)
1. Oregon 76,760
2. Houston 74,354
3. Texas Tech 74,248
4. Oklahoma 74,216
5. Nevada 67,584

« Houston has scored in 219 straight games dating back to Sept. 30, 2000.
« Eight of Houston's 32 scoring drives this season have lasted less than two minutes with four lasting less than one minute, the quickest only 29 seconds with a two-play, 19-yard drive vs. Texas Tech.
« Houston has six 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 seven 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.
« The Houston offense ranks 12th nationally in converting 48.2 percent of its third-down attempts, 53-of-111. It has been particularly strong in the first half when it has converted 53.3 percent of its third-down attempts, 32-of-60 attempts.
« 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 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 12 games with 500+ yards of total offense and has scored more than 40 points 12 times and more than 50 points five times.


A LOOK UNDER CENTER

« With the graduation of Greg Ward Jr., Houston lost its second-most winningest QB 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 fourth nationally in completion percentage at 70.9 percent as Postma is 11th nationally with a completion rate of 67.3 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 six career starts under center (3-3 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 TDs on a 10-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 9-yard Postma rushing TD on 4th-and-1, and an 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 UH in rushing with 52 yards.
« He eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark for the first time in his career vs. Memphis, finishing with 315 yards on 29-of-40 attempts. He also added 49 yards on the ground in the game.
« For his career, he has thrown for 1,783 yards and eight touchdowns against nine interceptions on 181-of-276 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 (34) and Linell Bonner (17) have combined for 51 career starts and 75 career games.
« Bonner is 11th nationally and third in The American with an average of 7.5 receptions per game while Dunbar is 17th nationally and fourth in the league with an average of 6.9 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 12th career game with 7+ receptions against Memphis, finishing with eight receptions for 121 yards, his sixth career 100-yard game.
« With 168 receptions, Bonner ranks ninth on Houston's career receptions chart and needs 33 more to move into the top eight.
« Bonner has 1,900 career receiving yards to rank 13th on the Houston career receiving yards chart. He needs 419 more to move into the top 10.
« Dunbar has led Houston in receiving yards in four games this season with 72 off six receptions at Arizona, 83 off six receptions vs. Texas Tech, 65 yards off six receptions vs. SMU and 107 yards, his fourth career 100-yard game, on 10 receptions at Tulsa.
« He has posted at least six receptions in all seven games this season for Houston.
« The senior ranks 16th on the Houston career receptions chart and needs two to move into the top 15 and 10 for the top 10, sitting at 151 receptions for 1,865 yards, good for 14th on the UH chart. He needs 454 yards to move into the top 10.
« 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.
« He has at least four receptions in every game played after tying a career-high with seven for 51 yards vs. Memphis.
« 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. He made a 15-yard reception at Tulsa before exiting with an injury on the same play.


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 eighth career start vs. Memphis, 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.
« Birden returned at Tulsa to lead UH in rushing, totaling 82 yards on 11 attempts (7.5 yards average) including a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
« Birden recorded his first career 100-yard game with 106 yards and one touchdown vs. Memphis but exited the game in the fourth quarter with an elbow injury.
« The Memphis game also saw Catalon total a career-best three rushing touchdowns while running for 65 yards.
« 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 27 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 41 career games played while totaling 22 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 20 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 14th nationally in allowing just eight 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 at the time, 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 third in The American in scoring defense, allowing 24.0 points per game. The Houston defense has accomplished the feat despite facing four of the nation's top 15 scoring offenses in its seven games - No. 5 Arizona, No. 7 SMU, No. 14 Memphis and No. 15 Texas Tech. Houston held Arizona and SMU to 20+ points below their scoring average and Texas Tech to 16 points below.
« Houston ranks ninth nationally with 10 interceptions on the year.
« 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 Memphis, Houston gave up no points in the first half, marking the first time the Tigers had been held scoreless at halftime since Oct. 13, 2012.

« 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.


TURNOVER U

« Since the start of the 2013 season, no program has taken the ball away from opposing offenses more than Houston with 140 turnovers forced in that time with 14 in 2017, 18 in 2016, 35 in 2015, 30 in 2014 and 43 in 2013.
« UH has forced multiple turnovers in 48 of its last 67 games.
« Houston ranks ninth nationally and second in The American with 10 interceptions while Garrett Davis is tied for The American lead with four interceptions.
« 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.


ED-UCATION

« 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 added his 27.5 career tackle for loss vs. Tulsa, a game that saw the tackle total nine tackles and one pass breakup on the day.
« With 2.5 tackles for loss, Oliver recorded his 10th career game with multiple TFLs and now has 30 career tackles for loss in only 20 games.
« 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 1.48 tackles for loss per game and ranks third nationally with a career average of 0.25 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 78 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in 39 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. The end had a career high and his first career double-digit tackle game with 12 stops at Tulsa.
« 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 23 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 seven games, a number that is second among defensive backs nationally. He ranks seventh in The American regardless of position.
« Davis, who owns 18 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 fifth nationally this season with four picks after snagging another vs. Memphis.
« Senior Terrell Williams, who owns 12 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, earning the Jim Thorpe Award Player of the Week and The American's Defensive Player of the week honors as a result.
« 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 had a career-high six stops.
« 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.
« 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.
« Winchester had his 12th career start at Tulsa and responded with his first career interception, a diving effort in his own end zone.
« 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.


SMASHMOUTH FOOTBALL

« 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 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.
« Fellow senior D'Juan Hines returned to the group after starting seven games in 2016, finishing with 44 stops.
« He totaled a career-best 20 tackles at Tulsa. The effort marked the 11th best single-game total in Houston history and was just six off the single-game record. It is the most in a game by a player from The American this season and the fourth-most nationally.
« Hines posted 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.
« Hines is third in The American with an average of 9.4 tackles per game, a number that ranks 21st nationally.
« 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.
« True freshman David Anenih who has seen action on passing downs as of late, made his first career sack, a seven-yard loss on third down vs. Memphis.


RETURNS DEPARTMENT

« The early returns look good for Houston, as the #HTownTakeover is 17th nationally and second in The American in kickoff returns with an average of 24.4 yards 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 sixth nationally with two kickoff returns of at least 40 yards.
« Leday ranks 19th nationally and second in The American with an average of 26.3 yards per return.
« 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.


THE PUNT-AH

« 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 17 punts inside the 20-yard line and leads the league with 47.2 percent of his punts landing inside the opponents 20-yard line.
« Eleven of his 36 punts have been inside his opponents' 10-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.


KICKING IT

« 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 seven games this season.
« Novikoff connected on a career-long 45-yard field goal vs. Texas Tech while converting all three extra point attempts.
« After hitting a 30-yard field goal vs. Memphis, he has connected on his last five field goal 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.

 

 

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11/24/17
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