Coming off a loss at Tulane last Saturday that erased the Cougars' bowl chances for this season, head coach Dana Dimel and his staff put the focus of these final two games as the future of the football program at the university in the coming years.
"The thing is right now is that we feel like we're this close (holds hands up) to going over the edge and getting on the right track, with the Southern Miss game and in the early part of the Tulane game," began Dimel. "We get either one of those victories and this program has really turned the corner, and we're just that close away.
"So right now we're just trying to identify the things, through everything that we do, from practices and everything, that is going to help us get over the edge. So that's part of the process right nowinstead of looking at what these two games mean for us right now, we're trying to remedy what's going to give us that little extra to get us over the edge in the future. These two games and these practices right now we're doing for the big picture and to develop us for the future."
And in developing the Cougar program, Dimel and the coaches are turning to the younger players, giving them more time at the positions that they are going to play in the future and work towards building their confidence. While the Cougars are strong at virtually every position next year, one of the main question marks has been the development of freshman backup quarterback Bubba Teague (Cy-Fair HS/Houston, TX), the heir apparent to senior Jason McKinley (Westwood HS/Austin, TX) next season.
"We're planning on playing him early, and if he does well, we'll play him a lot more," Dimel said of Teague's expected playing time in Saturday's game. "We want to set him up to succeed and get his whole team excited of what he can do out there. When he's out there, his whole football team is watching him because they know what we're going to be like at every other position next season, but they're all wondering what he's going to do.
"More than anything, I think it's important for us to take the big picture right now," continued Dimel. "We need to look at where we are with our practices, and then we have to learn to overcome adversity within games as well as during the season to get to where we need to get to. It's all a learning process for our guys right now, and I think how we come out and play on Saturday will be very indicative of the makeup of what this football team is all about."