|THE GAME AT A GLANCE|
|Date||Saturday, Nov. 4|
|Time||11 a.m. CT|
|Radio||KPRC 950 AM|
HITS ON HOUSTON
« Houston (5-3, 3-2 The American) hosts the 2017 edition of Homecoming on Saturday as it faces ECU (2-6, 1-3 The American) in an 11 a.m. showdown. Saturday’s game will air on CBS Sports Network and on KPRC 950 AM with radio pregame coverage starting at 10 a.m.
« Both teams are looking to put together a win streak as Houston is coming a 28-24 win at No. 17 USF, snapping the nation’s longest active winning streak at the time, while ECU is looking to put together its first winning streak of the season after defeating BYU, 33-17, on Oct. 21. .
« 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 26 wins over conference opponents. UCF is second with 23 wins over the same span. USF and Memphis are tied for third with 22 wins.
« Houston is second among FBS schools in Texas with 35 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.
« UH is the only team in the nation to face five of the nation’s top five scoring offenses and one of 12 to face at least three top 20 scoring teams. Houston is No. 46 in scoring defense with an average of 24.0 points per game given up while the other 11 hold an average rank of No. 96 while giving up 33.5 points per game.
« Houston held four of the five top 20 scoring offenses its faced to well below their average in No. 3 Arizona (Avg. 45.0 points per game | 16 vs. Houston) and No. 9 SMU (41.5/game | 22 vs. Houston), No. 16 USF (39.4/game | 24 vs. Houston) and No. 17 Texas Tech (38.6/game | 27 vs. Houston).
« The #HTownTakeover defense is also taking the ball away in the air, ranking No. 20 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 ninth nationally with an average of 7.3 receptions per game while Steven Dunbar is 23rd with an average of 6.3.
« UH is ninth nationally with an average of 24.4 yards per kick return while John Leday is 16th nationally with an average return of 27.3 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 21 games, Oliver has 32 tackles for loss for his career. The sophomore leads all players nationally with a career average of 1.50 tackles for loss per game.
« Houston linebacker D’Juan Hines is No. 12 nationally and second in The American with an average of 9.9 tackles per game.
« D’Eriq King was named The American’s Offensive Player of the Week after taking over at QB at USF, finishing with 83 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 137 yards passing with one touchdown and no interception. Both of King’s rushing TDs came in the final 6:20 of the game including the game-winning 20-yard score with 11 seconds left in the 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.
« 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 35 wins, which currently ranks fifth on the Houston history for wins by a class. The 2017 senior class needs one more win to move into second and three 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 35 wins. The Horned Frogs sit in the lead with 36 wins. The Cougars are six wins ahead of Texas A&M and seven ahead of Baylor while standing 15 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 35 wins since starting in 2014. The next win will place the class in a tie for second. The class is only three wins away from the record of 38 established by the 2016 senior class.
« 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.
« The program lost 10 players from the 2016 roster who combined for 256 career starts.
« 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.
« 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.
« 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 second season under head coach Scottie Montgomery, ECU enters Saturday at 2-6 and 1-3 in The American. ECU opened the year with losses to James Madison (34-14), West Virginia (56-20) and Virginia Tech (64-17) before picking up a 41-38 win at UConn. The Pirates dropped three more to USF (61-31), Temple (34-10) and UCF (63-21) before a 33-17 win over BYU.
« ECU is led offensively by Duke graduate transfer quarterback Thomas Sirk who has thrown for 1,650 yards and nine touchdowns against eight interceptions on 130-of-231 passing while rushing for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore running back Hussein Howe leads the Pirates with 214 yards rushing while senior receiver Davon Grayson leads with 47 receptions for 795 yards and six touchdowns.
« Defensively, the Pirates are led by senior linebacker Jordan Williams who has 63 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Senior defensive end Kiante Anderson leads the team with 3.5 sacks while sophomore defensive back Colby Gore leads the way with four pass breakups.
« Saturday’s matchup is the 13th meeting between the two schools with ECU owning a 7-5 series lead. Saturday will be the first meeting since Nov. 3, 2012, a 48-28 ECU win in Greenville, N.C. Houston claimed the last game between the two in Houston, a 56-3 win on Oct. 8, 2011.
« Houston offensive line coach Chris Scelfo and ECU offensive coordinator Tony Petersen spent five seasons together on the Marshall offensive staff (1991-95) where Scelfo was an offensive line coach from 1990-92 and offensive coordinator from 1993-95 while Petersen coached running backs (1991), wide receivers (1992) and quarterbacks (1993-95).
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 and Oklahoma have racked up more yards than Houston who has 74,751 yards in that time.
Rank Team Total Yards (06-present)
1. Oregon 77,176
2. Oklahoma 74,833
3. Houston 74,751
4. Texas Tech 74,685
5. Nevada 67,584
« Houston has scored in 220 straight games dating back to Sept. 30, 2000.
« Eleven of Houston’s 36 scoring drives this season have lasted less than two minutes with five lasting less than one minute, the quickest only 29 seconds with a two-play, 19-yard drive vs. Texas Tech.
« Houston has seven 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 eight 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 21st nationally in converting 45.7 percent of its third-down attempts, 58-of-127. It has been particularly strong in the first half when it has converted 48.5 percent of its third-down attempts, 33-of-68 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.
« Three QBs have had the opportunity to fill in for Ward this season in Kyle Allen (starts vs. Arizona, Rice & Cincinnati), Kyle Postma (starts in the next six games) and D’Eriq King who took over at QB at USF. The three have helped Houston rank fourth nationally in completion percentage at 69.6 percent as Postma is 11th nationally with a completion rate of 66.5 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 playing in 20 games. Allen led Texas A&M in passing and total offense as a sophomore, completing 160-of-283 passes for 2,210 yards and 17 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
« 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 seven career starts under center (4-3 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 1,788 yards and eight touchdowns against nine interceptions on 183-of-281 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.
« King took over the quarterback role on the third drive at USF and never looked back in the game, rushing for a career-high 83 yards and two touchdowns while completing 12-of-20 passes for 137 yards and one score.
« He was named The American’s Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
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 (35) and Linell Bonner (18) have combined for 53 career starts and 77 career games.
« Bonner is ninth nationally and third in The American with an average of 7.3 receptions per game while Dunbar is 23rd nationally and fourth in the league with an average of 6.3 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 174 receptions, Bonner ranks ninth on Houston’s career receptions chart and needs 27 more to move into the top eight.
« Bonner has 1,940 career receiving yards, 12th on the Houston career chart. He needs 379 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 seven of eight games this season for Houston.
« The senior ranks 15th on the Houston career receptions chart and needs seven to move into the top 10, sitting at 154 receptions for 1,884 yards, good for 14th on the UH chart. He needs 435 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 all five games of action at WR after tying a career-high with seven for 51 yards vs. Memphis.
« Leday recorded career highs in receptions (7) and yards (60) vs. Rice, pulling in his first TD 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.
« Courtney Lark made his first career start at USF and pulled in his first career TD, finishing with a career-high 69 yards.
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 with 177 yards and two TDs 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 back 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.
« With Birden out and Catalon receiving an injury at USF, Car stepped up in a big way with a career-high 137 yards, his second career 100-yard game, and one touchdown. Car helped Houston rush for 255 yards total, the most given up by USF this season. Car averaged 7.6 yards a carry with just 18 attempts.
« 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 28 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 42 career games played while totaling 23 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 21 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.
« 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 five of the nation’s top 17 scoring offenses in its eight games - No. 3 Arizona, No. 8 Memphis, No. 9 SMU, No. 16 USF and No. 17 Texas Tech. Houston held Arizona to 20+ points below its scoring average, USF to 17 points below its average and Texas Tech to 16 points below its average.
« Houston ranks 20th nationally with 10 interceptions on the year.
« Houston snapped USF’s NCAA record 24-game streak of 30+ points as it held the Bulls to 24 points. It was particularly good against USF’s No. 7 rushing offense, holding the Bulls to a season-low 137 yards. USF entered the game averaging 305.1 rushing yards per game. It recorded a season-high 12 tackles for loss against the Bulls.
« 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.
« 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 68 games.
« Houston ranks 20th nationally and third 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.
« 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 two tackles for loss at USF, Oliver recorded his 11th career game with multiple TFLs and now has 32 career tackles for loss in only 21 games.
« He 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 1.50 tackles for loss per game and ranks fourth nationally with a career average of 0.24 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 80 tackles and 14.5 tackles for loss in 40 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.
« Carter returned to the field for the first time this season at USF, finishing the game with two tackles, including one for a 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 24 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 eight tackles for loss through the first eight games, a number that is second among defensive backs nationally. He ranks 10th 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 13 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.
« 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 vs. Rice, a career-high 15 stops vs. Texas Tech and nine 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.
« He had a game-high 13 stops, including two tackles for loss at USF.
« Hines is second in The American with an average of 9.9 tackles per game, a number that ranks 12th nationally.
« With Adams out vs. Memphis and limited vs. USF, Austin Robinson stepped in the starting lineup and responded with a career-high seven tackles vs. USF including two tackles for loss and one sack after totaling six tackles vs. Memphis.
« 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. He followed it up with his second sack in as many games at USF.
« The early returns look good for Houston, as the #HTownTakeover is ninth nationally and leads The American in kickoff returns with an average of 26.4 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 had a return for 43 yards vs. USF and now ranks third nationally with three kickoff returns of at least 40 yards.
« Leday ranks 16th nationally and second in The American with an average of 27.3 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.
« 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 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.
« After totaling three punts of 50+ yards in the first seven games, Roy exploded with four punts of 50+ yards at USF. He averaged a season-best 48.0 yards per punt while still placing four punts inside the Bulls’ 20-yard line.
« Roy leads The American with 21 punts inside the 20 and with 47.7 percent of his punts inside his opponents 20.
« Eleven of his 44 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.
« 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 eight 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.
« UH turned to Simpson’s backup in 2016, junior Nick Wildberger. The San Antonio, Texas, native redshirted in 2016.