Game Notes - Houston at UCF

    Nov. 5, 2013


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    THE GAME AT A GLANCE
    Date Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013
    Time 6 p.m. CST
    Location Orlando, Fla.
    Venue Brighthouse Networks Stadium
    Capacity 45,323
    Surface Natural Grass
    TV ESPN2
    Radio KTRH 740 AM
    Audio All Access
    Live Stats UHCougars.com
     THE GAME
    » Houston (7-1, 4-0) travels to Orlando, Fla., this Saturday at 6 p.m. as it faces No. 19/21 UCF (6-1, 3-0) in a game between The American Athletic Conference's leaders. If the polls were extended, Houston would be ranked No. 30/28.
    » Houston's all-time record in its first 67 years of existence is 395-342-15 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 37-22-1 when the 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. Houston is bowl eligible for the seventh time in the last nine years.
    » Houston has scored in all 32 quarters this season, the only FBS team to score in every quarter played, and now has 39 straight quarters with a score dating back to Nov. 17, 2012.
    » 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 +20 turnover margin and 29 turnovers gained. They are 12th nationally with nine turnovers lost.
    » The Houston defense leads the nation with 15 straight games of forcing multiple turnovers.
    » UH has outscored its opponents 158-59 in the second half of games this season.
    » QB John O'Korn leads all true freshmen nationally with 22 passing touchdowns and an efficiency rating of 163.5.
    » 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 | 13-8 (2nd year as HC/6th year at UH)

    George O'Leary | New Hampshire, 1969 | 66-56 (10th year at UCF)/ 118-89 (17th year overall)

     FAST FACTS ON THE SERIES
    » Series Record Overall: UCF leads, 3-1
    » Series Record at Houston: Series tied, 1-1
    » Series Record at UCF: UCF leads, 2-0
    » Last Meeting: UCF 40, Houston 33 (Nov. 5, 2010 at Houston)

     PLAYERS TO WATCH
    John O'Korn, QB, FR.
    John O'Korn returns to Florida for the first time since he played high school football for St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The first-year collegiate player leads all true freshmen nationally with 22 passing touchdowns and a passing efficiency rating of 163.47. O'Korn is also second nationally regardless of class with six games this season with at least three touchdown passes. He also has three games of at least 300 yards and has completed 80 percent of his passes (46-of-57) for 627 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions over the last two games.
    Efrem Oliphant, LB, JR.
    Having not started since 2010 as a true freshman, junior linebacker Efrem Oliphant moved back into the starting lineup for the Cougars this season and now leads the team with 78 tackles, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. With a team-high 13 stops against USF, Oliphant now has four double-digit tackle games this season and has 60 of his 78 tackles in the last five games. He is fourth in The American with an average of 9.8 tackles per game.


    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.




    TEAM COMPARISON
    STATS UH UCF
    Points Scored 41.1 37.0
    Points Allowed 22.4 19.3
    First Downs 25.0 20.1
    First Down Def. 23.6 19.1
    Rushing Yards 144.2 156.0
    Rushing Def. 144.2 128.0
    Passing Yards 320.9 278.7
    Passing Def. 286.0 221.0
    Total Offense 483.1 434.7
    Total Defense 430.2 349.0
    Int. Thrown/Def Int. 4/17 6/7
    Sacks By/Allowed 18/14 14/8
    3rd Down Off./Def. 41%/38% 52%/39%
    Red Zone Off./Def. 84%/77% 89%/68%
    Kickoff Return Avg. 26.6 21.3
    Punt Return Avg. 4.1 11.9
    Fumble Lost/Gained 5/12 3/11
    Penalties 69/76.5 37/45.9
    Field Goals 11-17 9-10
     THE OPPONENT
    » In its 10th season under head coach George O'Leary, UCF enters Saturday's game with an overall record of 6-1 and a record of 3-0 in The American. After winning its first three games over Akron (38-7), FIU (38-0) and Penn State (34-31), the Knights dropped their only game of the season to South Carolina, 28-25. UCF is undefeated in the American as it has opened conference play with wins over Memphis (24-17), Louisville (38-35) and Connecticut (62-17).
    » UCF is 52nd nationally with an average of 434.7 yards per game while its defense is 20th nationally in allowing 349.0 yards per game.
    » Junior quarterback Blake Bortles (6-4, 230) has 1,870 yards through the air with 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. Junior running back Storm Johnson (6-0, 215) averages 84.6 yards a game for UCF with 592 yards on 114 carries with nine touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Rannell Hall (6-1, 196) leads the team in receiving with 28 receptions for 437 yards and three touchdowns.
    » Junior linebacker Terrance Plummer (6-1, 234) leads UCF with 60 tackles including seven tackles for loss and two sacks. Plummer also leads UCF with two forced fumbles.
    » UCF leads the series against Houston, 3-1, with Houston capturing a 51-31 home win in 2006 and UCF with wins in 2005 (31-29), 2009 (37-32) and 2010 (40-33).
     TIES WITH UCF
    » John O'Korn (Fort Lauderdale), Trevor Harris (Mount Dora) and Damien Parris (Miami) all hail from Florida while there is one Texan on the UCF roster.

     LAST TIME OUT
    » Houston remained unbeaten in The American Athletic Conference as it defeated USF, 35-23, Halloween night in Reliant Stadium.
    » The win was Houston's fifth win by double-digits this season as Kenneth Farrow scored on a five-yard run with 1:40 remaining in the game after USF pulled within five points, 28-23, with 11:50 left in the fourth quarter.
    » The Houston defense extended its nation's leading streak of games with multiple turnovers to 15, although it was close as Tyus Bowser forced a USF fumble recovered by Jeremiah Farley with 3:51 left in the game while Trevon Stewart recorded his third interception with 1:03 left in the contest.
    » Deontay Greenberry recorded his fifth game this season of at least 100 yards receiving with four receptions for 106 yards including a 48-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
    » True freshman John O'Korn finished the night with a 22-of-27 effort and 263 passing yards for three touchdowns, his sixth game this season with at least three passing touchdowns.
    » Junior linebacker Efrem Oliphant notched his fourth double-digit tackle effort this season for a team-high and seventh of his career with his team-leading 13 tackles vs. USF.

     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 ground breaking 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 4-5 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 on Oct. 12.
    THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE STANDINGS
      AMERICAN OVERALL    
    TEAM W L Pct. W L Pct. LAST WEEK THIS WEEK
    Houston 4 0 1.000 7 1 .875 W, USF, 35-23 at UCF
    UCF 3 0 1.000 6 1 .857 - Houston
    Louisville 3 1 .750 7 1 .875 - at Connecticut
    Cincinnati 3 1 .750 6 2 .750 W, at Memphis, 34-21 SMU
    SMU 2 1 .667 3 4 .429 - at Cincinnati
    USF 2 2 .500 2 6 .250 L, at Houston, 35-23 -
    Rutgers 2 2 .500 5 3 .625 W, Temple, 23-20 -
    Memphis 0 4 .000 1 6 .143 L, Cincinnati, 34-21 Tennesse-Martin
    Temple 0 5 .000 1 8 .111 L, at Rutgers, 23-20 -
    Conneticut 0 3 .000 0 7 .000 - Louisville
    2013 NON-CONFERENCE OPPONENTS
      Conference Overall    
    TEAM W L Pct. W L Pct. LAST WEEK THIS WEEK
    Southern (SWAC) 5 2 .714 5 4 .556 W, at Texas Southern, 31-24 at Alabama State
    Rice (C-USA) 4 1 .800 6 3 .667 L, at North Texas, 28-16 -
    UTSA (C-USA) 3 2 .600 4 5 .444 W, at Tulsa, 34-15 Tulane
    BYU (Independent) - - - 6 2 .750 - at Wisconsin

     YOUTH IS SERVED
    » When Houston takes the field, its two-deep depth chart will sport just eight 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 (6) 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.


     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- 7-1 4-0/?
     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 two conferences in its first year in the new league and has a combined conference record of 37-22-1 in 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 2012 redshirts.


    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 52,191 yards in that time.
    » Houston is the only FBS team to have scored in every quarter, 32 in all, with TDs in 27 quarters and double digits in 13.
    » Houston ranks 18th nationally in percentage of drives resulting in a three-and-out. Just 27 of Houston's 118 offensive drives this season have resulted in a three-and-out (22.9 percent).
    Rank Team Total Yards (06-present) Season Average (06-12)
    1. HOUSTON 52,191 6,902
    2. Oregon 50,034 6,387
    3. Oklahoma 48,205 6,386
    4. Nevada 48,182 6,334
    5. Boise State 46,344 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 23 of its 49 scoring drives this season have lasted under two minutes including 10 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 and Houston had two 12-second scoring drives at Rutgers.
    » Seventeen 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 78 explosive plays on the season including 16 touchdowns.
    » Demarcus Ayers leads the team with 18 explosive plays including two touchdowns. Ayers has 16 kick returns and two receptions over 20 yards. Deontay Greenberry is second with 16 receptions of 20 yards or more. Daniel Spencer has 13 explosive plays, 12 receiving and one rushing.
    » Houston's 14 offensive plays of 40 yards or longer and its 52 plays of 20 yards or longer lead The American.
    » For a full breakdown of Houston's explosive plays this season, jump to page 21 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 play caller and quarterbacks coach during the 2012.
    » 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
    » 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 have 289 rushing attempts on the season to 305 passing attempts.
    » After rushing 50 times and attempting 38 passes vs. Southern, Houston was completely balanced against Temple with 48 rushing attempts and passing attempts. In the next three games, the spread between passing vs. rushing did not eclipse seven attempts. Houston had its biggest spread against BYU as it had 47 passes to 29 carries.
    » 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.
    » The most rushing yards Houston has averaged when passing for over 300 yards a game is 161.2 when the 2008 team also passed for 401.6 yards per game.
    » 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. He 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 TDs 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 312 yards on 24-of-36 passing with four touchdowns. 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 22 passing touchdowns, a number that ranks second in The American Athletic Conference, and in passing efficiency at 163.5, which ranks third in the league.
    » The first-year player has thrown for at least three touchdowns in six games, the second-best total in FBS and over 300 yards in three games.
    » O'Korn completed 80 percent of his passes (24-of-30) at Rutgers with a career-high 364 yards and five TDs.
    » He followed his 80 percent performance with a completion rate of 81.5 percent (22-of-27) vs. USF.
    » 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 six games, throwing for 226 yards and one touchdown on 13-of-17 passing while rushing for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 30 attempts.
    » 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 163.5 1. John O'Korn, Houston 22
    2. Davis Webb, Texas Tech 134.8 2. Davis Webb, Texas Tech 15
    3. Christian Jackenburg, Penn State 128.4 3. Jared Goff, Cal 14
    4. Jared Goff, Cal 125.2 4. Christian Hackenburg, Penn State 13
    5. Paxton Lynch, Memphis 111.3 5. P.J. Walker, Temple 11

     NO SIGN OF SOPHOMORE SLUMPS
    » Carrying on the youthful theme for Houston, there has been no sign of sophomore slumps for two of the team's offensive threats in RBs Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson, a thunder-and-lightning combination.
    » Through eight games, Jackson has already surpassed his 2012 rushing total of 252 yards by 279 yards. The sophomore from Angleton, Texas, has 531 yards and five touchdowns on 105 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 five of Houston's eight games this season with four rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns and ranks 15th in The American with an average of 5.3 points per game.
    » If the first eight 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 124 more rushing yards.
    » Farrow, who still looking to eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game, had one of his most effective games at Rutgers as he averaged 12.3 yards a carry with 74 yards and one touchdown on six attempts.
    » Farrow recorded his first career game with a rushing and a receiving touchdown with his two-TD game vs. USF.
    » Sophomore walk-on RB Justin Hicks tallied his first career touchdown against Southern as he plunged in from one-yard out and has 95 yards on 21 carries this season including a second TD, a 15-yard run at UTSA.

     A SLICE OF GREENBERRY PIE
    Greenberry NCAA Ranks
    Receptions per game 7.8 10th
    Rec. Yards per game 118.5 6th
    » As is the case with Farrow and Jackson, Deontay Greenberry's season is off to a great start and has easily surpassed his 2012 numbers
    » 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 a career high 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. He leads The American with five games of at least 100 yards receiving this season.
    » The sophomore continued his impressive season at Rutgers with eight receptions for a career-high 168 yards and three touchdowns. Greenberry pulled in two fades for touchdowns while also taking off for an 83-yard reception from John O'Korn.
    » Greenberry leads The American Athletic Conference with nine receiving touchdowns, a number that ranks eighth nationally, and is seventh in the league with an average of 6.8 points per game.
    » Greenberry also leads The American with an average of 118.5 receiving yards per game and is third in the conference with an average of 7.8 receptions per game.
    » The Fresno, Calif., native also leads The American in all-purpose yards at 119.3 yards per game, adding six rushing yards to his 948 receiving yards.
    » Greenberry has pulled in at least six receptions in six of Houston's eight games with double-digit receptions against Temple (14) and BYU (11).
    » Greenberry needs just 52 yards to become the 17th player in UH history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season and the first since Patrick Edwards and Justin Johnson accomplished the feat in 2011.
     TAKE IT AWAY, DON'T GIVE IT AWAY
    Turnover Margin
    1. +20 Houston
    2. +15 Buffalo
      +15 Missouri
    Turnovers Gained
    1. 29 Houston
    2. 28 North Texas
    3. 26 Tulane
    » Through eight games, Houston leads the nation with a +20 turnover margin.
    » Through eight games, the Houston defense leads the nation as it has forced 29 turnovers, 12 fumbles and 17 interceptions. Houston is fourth nationally with the 12 fumble recoveries and second nationally with the 17 interceptions.
    » On the other side of the ball, Houston has committed just nine turnovers: five fumbles and four interceptions. The nine turnovers lost rank 12th nationally and is second in The American behind Louisville (7).
    » Nine different players have interceptions for the Houston defense with Adrian McDonald and Trevon Stewart leading the way with three interceptions each, a number that leads The American.
    » 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.
    » Eight Cougars have fumble recoveries, led by Trevon Stewart with four recoveries, a number that leads The American and ranks third nationally, while nine have forced fumbles including three players with two forced fumbles.
    » The Houston defense has forced multiple turnovers in all eight games this season - Southern (4), Temple (3), Rice (2), UTSA (5), Memphis (4), BYU (3), Rutgers (6) and USF (2) - and has forced multiple turnovers in a nation's leading 15 straight games.
    » The 29 turnovers have resulted in 100 points including 18 scored directly by defenders (William Jackson, Brandon Wilson, Derrick Mathews) while the defense also has two points off a safety from a Mathews sack in the endzone.
    » 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
    » In the season's first eight games, 15 UH players have recorded a reception with eight players - Deontay Greenberry (9), Daniel Spencer (5), Xavier Maxwell (4), Ryan Jackson (2), Kenneth Farrow (1), Aaron Johnson (1), Demarcus Ayers (1) and John Leday (1) - pulling in touchdowns.
    » Houston 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 then career highs for receptions and receiving yards at Temple.
    » Daniel Spencer (186) and Xavier Maxwell (136) became the first Houston duo to record 100 yards through the air in 16 games with their performances against BYU. Both had a TD in the game as well.
    » The feat was matched at Rutgers as Greenberry (168) and Spencer (117) eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark.

    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
    BYU 6 3 2 - Maxwell, Spencer
    Rutgers 8 3 2 - Greenberry, Spencer
    USF 10 3 1 - Greenberry

     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 six 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 34 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 127 games of starting experience - Harper (34), RG/C Kevin Forsch (27), LG Ty Cloud (26), C Bryce Redman (16), Oragwu (11), G/T DeAnthony Sims (10) and T Zach Johnson (8).
    » The group of starters sports an average height of 6-3 with an average weight of 311 pounds.
    » The line currently ranks third in The American Athletic Conference with 11 sacks given up.
    » The front line is led by new assistant 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
    Most Improved Scoring Defense
    Rank Change Team 2013 PPG
    1. -21.3 Marshall 21.8
    2. -14.4 Arizona 20.9
    3. -13.6 Houston 22.4
    4. -13.5 Tulane 22.4
    5. -9.9 Miami (Fl.) 20.6
    » Veteran NFL and NCAA defensive coach David Gibbs took 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.

     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.
    » Entering its game vs. BYU, Houston was one of eight teams nationally to not allow a 100-yard rusher in the first eight weeks of the season before BYU QB Taysom Hill ran for 128 yards.
    » On average, the Houston defense forces 5.1 three-and-outs per game, a number that leads The American and is 14th nationally. On 41 of Houston opponents' 118 drives or 34.7 percent, 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 fifth in The American and 36th nationally in allowing just 32 plays of 20 yards or longer. UH has allowed just four rushes for 20 yards or more, a number that trails just Memphis (2) in the conference.
    » The defense is eighth nationally and third in the American in allowing just nine plays of 30 yards or longer.
    » Houston ranks fourth nationally among most improved scoring defenses. In giving up 22.4 points per game, Houston is allowing 13.6 points less per game than last year.

     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 158-59 in the second half of games this season...

    Opponents Totals Points Total Yards Pass Yards Rush Yards Turnovers
    First Half 120 (67.0%) 1,911 (55.5%) 1,208 (52.8%) 703 (61.0%) 14 (51.9%)
    Second Half 53 (29.6%)* 1,531 (44.5%) 1,080 (47.2%) 451 (39.0%) 15 (48.1%)

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

    » Twice this season, the Houston defense has shut out its opponent in the second half. 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 Third Ward D did it at Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights were held scoreless after scoring their second touchdown of the game with 7:03 remaining in the second quarter. Houston forced three interceptions and a punt before stopping Rutgers to run out the clock in the second half. Rutgers' two scores came on drives of five plays, 45 yards and 12 plays, 75 yards. Take away the two first half scoring drives and the Houston defense limited Rutgers to 68 yards off 19 plays in the first half.
    » The UH defense has given up just six second half touchdowns, third quarter TDs to Southern and UTSA, fourth quarter TDs to Rice and USF and two fourth quarter TDs to BYU.
    » 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.

    CAREER DOUBLE DIGIT TACKLE EFFORTS
    1. Derrick Mathews 13
    2. Trevon Stewart 9
    3. Efrem Oliphant 7
    4. Kent Brooks 4
    5. Zach McMillian 3
     Adrian McDonald 3
     Steven Taylor 3
    8. Colton Valencia 1
    SEASON DOUBLE DIGIT TACKLE EFFORTS
    1. Efrem Oliphant 4
    2. Derrick Mathews 3
     Steven Taylor 3
     Trevon Stewart 3
    5. Adrian McDonald 2
    6. Zach McMillian 1
     TACKLING MACHINES
    » This season six Cougars have accounted for 16 games with 10 or more tackles.
    » Mathews leads the team with 13 double-digit tackle games. Mathews had 12 stops vs. BYU to record his 13th career double-digit tackle game.
    » The junior middle linebacker is 31st nationally with an average of 9.3 tackles per game and seventh with 6.4 solo tackles per game.
    » Efrem Oliphant has come on as of late with 60 of his 78 tackles on the year coming in the last five games. After recording 13 tackles vs. USF, Oliphant took over the team lead in the category and is now 21st nationally with 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.
    » Mathews and Stewart finished tied for second on the team with 126 tackles each, just two behind the 128 of 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 19 of the team's 29 turnovers.
    » Behind linebacker Derrick Mathews' 34 starts, senior cornerback Zach McMillian has the most starts of all defensive players with 33 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 has two interceptions this season.
    » 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. Bates led the team last season 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 and picked off two passes vs. BYU. He had a career-high four PBUs vs. USF.
    » 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 has already gotten his hand on the ball in 2013 as he has recorded four fumble recoveries, leading the American and ranking third nationally, and three interceptions. Stewart has also forced two fumbles.
    » 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, leading The American with three interceptions to along with 59 tackles and a fumble recovery vs. Rice.
    » William Jackson has also seen time at corner for Houston, and recorded Houston's first defensive TD, a 96-yard interception return against UTSA. Jackson also forced a fumble in the same game.
    » In what has become a rotation at cornerback, Turon Walker has started to see increased time at the position as well and picked off two passes at Rutgers.

     LOOK AT THE LINEBACKERS
    » The group's lone returning starter from 2012, Derrick Mathews is the defense's most experienced player with 34 career starts and moved to the middle in 2013 after spending 2012 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 were the third-best single-season assisted tackle total in Houston history. Mathews is second on the team through eight games with 74 tackles and is fifth in The American Athletic Conference with an average of 9.4 tackles per game.
    » Mathews was named The American's Defensive Player of the Week with his performance. Mathews picked off his first pass of the season midway through the first quarter and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown and Houston's first lead of the day. The middle linebacker had four tackles for loss in the game including a career-high three sacks. Mathews had back-to-back sacks late in the third quarter, the latter of which resulted in a safety.
    » Mathews leads all non-seniors nationally with 306 career tackles. He is 39 stops away from cracking the Houston top-10 career list for tackles.
    » Mathews' replacement on the weakside is junior Efrem Oliphant, a veteran of 31 career games with 11 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 nine tackles for loss, eclipsing the 3.5 TFLs he recorded in his first two seasons of action. Oliphant also has his first career sacks (2), has forced two fumbles this season and recovered another fumble.
    » Against BYU, Oliphant recorded a game high 16 tackles, the most by a Houston defender in a game this year.
    » Over the last five games, Oliphant has totaled 60 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 is second on the team with five pass breakups and is third on the team with 63 tackles.
    » Taylor's career-high 15 stops vs. BYU were the second-most on the year for UH behind Oliphant's 16 in the same game.


     UP FRONT
    » The Houston defensive line has been hands on this season as evident by the group's 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 leads the defensive tackle group with 19 tackles. Farley leads the group with four tackles for loss while he and Singleton both have sacks with Mark in on half of a sack.
    » 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 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. With the return of Eiland vs. Memphis, Harris rightfully held on to his starting spot, with Eiland starting at the opposite end, and finishing the game with four tackles on just 13 plays.
    » Harris, a junior college transfer, has performed admirably since moving into the starting role with 31 tackles, including five for a loss, two sacks and one forced fumble.
    » 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. Bowser now has 4.5 sacks on the year and is currently third for sacks by a freshman.
    » Junior defensive end Eric Braswell, who has 18 career starts, is involved in the defensive end rotation as is 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) 8 34 34
    Forsch (OL) 8 9 27
    Cloud (OL) - - 26
    Piland (QB) 2 - 20
    Greenberry (WR) 8 18 19
    Redman (OL) 8 14 16
    Spencer (WR) 7 3 14
    Maxwell (WR) 8 13 13
    Oragwu (OL) 1 - 11
    McDuffey (WR) 6 - 10
    Sims (OL) 7 7 10
    Farrow (RB) 6 4 9
    Johnson (OL) 8 8 8
    O'Korn (QB) 6 6 6
    Ros (WR) - - 3
    Jackson (RB) 2 - 3
    Johnson (WR) 2 2 2
    Brooks (RB) 1 - 1
    Defense
    Mathews (LB) 8 34 34
    McMillian (CB) 8 24 33
    Braswell (DL) 5 2 18
    Stewart (DB) 8 18 18
    Brooks (S) - - 14
    Mbu (DT) 8 8 16
    Bates (CB) 7 1 13
    Valencia (S) - - 10
    McDonald (S) 8 10 11
    Olifphant (LB) 8 8 11
    Mark (DT) 8 8 9
    Harris (DE) 7 7 7
    Taylor (LB) 6 6 6
    Bamfo (LB) 2 - 4
    Eiland (DE) 3 - 3
    Bowser (DE) 1 - 1
    Jackson (CB) 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 handled placekicking for the first seven games of the season.
    » With 37 punts through eight games, Leone carries an average of 42.9 yards per punt. Twenty of Leone's 37 punts have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line including nine inside the 10 and eight kicks over 50 yards.
    » Leone currently ranks second in UH history with an average of 43.0 yards per punt on his career.
    » Leone earned the Ray Guy Award Player of the Week for the second consecutive week on Oct. 28 as he recorded his best single-game punting average of the season with eight punts for an average of 47.9 yards vs. BYU. Three of Leone's punts traveled over 50 yards including a season-best 61-yard punt. Four of Leone's eight punts landed inside the BYU 20-yard line including three inside the 10-yard line and one on the BYU three-yard line. Leone's final punt of the third quarter pinned BYU at its own nine-yard line. On the ensuing drive, back-to-back sacks from Derrick Mathews gave Houston its first safety of the year. Leone's high punts resulted in three returns from BYU for a loss of four yards while also forcing returners to call two fair catches.
    » The senior was first named the Ray Guy Award Player of the Week after he 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 hit 11 field goals in the season's first seven games before turning over placekicking duties to Kyle Bullard. The 11 accounted for 33 of his 65 points on the season.
    » 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.
    » Rounding out his duties, Leone has 55 kickoffs with 27 touchbacks including one from his own 20 after a 15-yard penalty.
    » Sophomore Dylan Seibert backs Leone at punter after transferring 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 Houston. Seibert also owns holder duties.
    » 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 nine returns for a total of 36 yards, an average of 4.0 yards per return, a number that ranks 20th nationally. USF's Chris Dunkley returned a punt 41 yards against the Cougars, moving UH opponents into the positive after losing a total of five yards on eight previous returns.
    » Seventeen of Leone's 37 punts (45.9 percent) have been fair caught by opponents.
    » Richie Leone (27) and Ty Cummings (1) have a combined 28 touchbacks on Houston's 61 kickoffs.
    » Fifteen of Leone's last 21 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks including all eight at Rutgers.

     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 13 returns for 62 yards including a long of 31 yards against Rice. Junior Markeith Ambles backs him up and has one punt return on the season, a one-yard return at UTSA.
    » At kick returner, Houston has two new faces manning the position as true freshman Demarcus Ayers and junior transfer Markeith Ambles handle the duty.
    » After coming close several times, Ayers finally broke a return for a touchdown against BYU, returning a first-quarter kick 95 yards for Houston's first score of the day.
    » Ayers has 23 returns on the season and leads The American Athletic Conference with an average return of 27.9 yards per return, a number that ranks 12th nationally.
    » Against Memphis, Ayers had 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.
    » Ayers has accumulated over 100 yards of kickoff return in three of Houston's last four games including four returns for 124 yards vs. USF.
    » 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. He has since added a 21-yard return against BYU to his stats.
    » Payne has also added two kick returns, with 41 yards of returns.
     

     

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