|THE GAME AT A GLANCE|
|Date||Saturday, Nov. 18|
|Time||3 p.m. CT|
|Location||New Orleans, La.|
|Radio||KPRC 950 AM|
HITS ON HOUSTON
« Houston (6-3, 4-2 The American) takes to the road for its final road game of the season Saturday as it faces Tulane (4-6, 2-4 The American) in a 3 p.m. showdown. Saturday’s game will air on ESPNews and on KPRC 950 AM with radio pregame coverage starting at 2 p.m.
« Houston is riding a two-game winning streak after topping ECU, 52-27, in Homecoming on Nov. 4, while Tulane is picked up its fourth win of the season, a 31-24 OT win over ECU last Saturday.
« With its win over ECU, Houston became bowl eligible for a fifth straight season. UH entered 2017 ranked No. 24 nationally in active bowl streaks and as of week 12 is slated to move up at least two spots. The streak is the second-longest in The American behind Navy’s six seasons.
« The Cougars are still in the mix for a berth in The American Championship as wins over Tulane and Navy coupled with Memphis losses to SMU and ECU would send Houston to the conference championship.
« 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 27 wins over conference opponents. UCF is second with 25 wins over the same span. USF and Memphis are tied for third with 23 wins.
« Houston is second among FBS schools in Texas with 36 wins since the start of 2014. TCU leads the way with 37 wins in that span. Texas A&M is third with 30 wins while Baylor is fourth with 29 wins and Texas Tech is fifth with 21.
« UH is the only team in the nation to face five of the nation’s top 15 scoring offenses and one of 12 to face at least three top 20 scoring teams. Houston is No. 48 in scoring defense with an average of 24.3 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 has held four of the five top-20 scoring offenses its faced to well below their average in No. 3 Arizona (Avg. 44.4 points per game | 16 vs. Houston), No. 9 SMU (39.6/game | 22 vs. Houston), No. 11 USF (39.1/game | 24 vs. Houston) and No. 13 Texas Tech (38.2/game | 27 vs. Houston).
« The #HTownTakeover defense is also taking the ball away in the air, ranking No. 18 nationally with 12 interceptions while safety Garrett Davis and Terrell Williams are tied for The American lead and ninth nationally with four interceptions.
« Houston’s Linell Bonner is seventh nationally with an average of 7.3 receptions per game while Steven Dunbar is 22nd with 6.2.
« UH is ninth nationally with an average of 26.4 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 22 games, Oliver has 33 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 is No. 20 nationally and second in The American with an average of 9.6 tackles per game.
« D’Eriq King made his first career start at quarterback vs. ECU and responded with a career-high 330 yards passing, becoming the third UH quarterback to throw for over 300 yards in a game this season. King threw three TD passes while adding a fourth score on the ground.
« 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 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 36 wins, which currently ranks second on the Houston history for wins by a class. The 2017 senior class needs two 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 37 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 36 wins since starting in 2014. The class is only two 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 Willie Fritz, Tulane enters Saturday at 4-6 and 2-4 in The American. Tulane opened the year with a 43-14 win over Grambling before losses to Navy (23-21) and Oklahoma (56-14) and wins over Army (21-17) and Tulsa (62-28). They endured a four-game losing streak to FIU (23-10), USF (34-28), Memphis (56-26) and Cincinnati (17-16) before a 31-24 OT win at ECU.
« Tulane is led offensively by senior running back Dontrell Hillard who has rushed for 997 yards and 11 touchdowns while pulling in eight receptions for 115 yards and two scores. Junior quarterback Jonathan Banks has rushed for 476 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 89-of-163 passes for 1,232 yards and nine touchdowns against four interceptions. Sophomore Darnell Mooney leads Tulane in receiving with 26 receptions for 403 yards and two scores.
« Defensively, the Green Wave are led by senior linebacker Rae Juan Marbley who has 80 tackles including a team best 8.5 tackles for loss. Senior cornerback Parry Nickerson is tied for The American lead with four interceptions while junior cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. leads the league in passes defended with 11 breakups and three interceptions.
« Saturday’s matchup is the 22nd meeting between the two schools with Houston owning a 16-5 series lead. UH has claimed the last two meetings overall and the last five meetings in New Orleans.
« Houston offensive line coach Chris Scelfo spent eight seasons (1998-2006) as Tulane’s head coach. He is the only coach in Tulane history to win multiple bowl games.
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, Oklahoma and Texas Tech have racked up more yards than Houston.
Rank Team Total Yards (06-present)
1. Oregon 77,454
2. Oklahoma 76,151
3. Texas Tech 75,549
4. Houston 75,223
5. Nevada 68,327
« Houston has scored in 221 straight games dating back to Sept. 30, 2000.
« Fifteen of Houston’s 42 scoring drives this season have lasted less than two minutes with eight lasting less than one minute, the quickest only seven seconds with a one-play, 22-yard TD drive vs. ECU, a Duke Catalon rushing TD.
« Houston has 11 scoring drives of four plays or less including two, one-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 15th nationally in converting 46.3 percent of its third-down attempts, 63-of-136.
« 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 69.5 percent as Postma is eighth 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.
« 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.
« King made his first career start at quarterback vs. ECU and became the third quarterback on the Houston roster to throw for more than 300 yards as he set career highs with 15 completions for 330 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 14 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
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 (36) and Linell Bonner (19) have combined for 55 career starts and 79 career games.
« Bonner is seventh nationally and third in The American with an average of 7.3 receptions per game while Dunbar is 22nd nationally and fourth in the league with an average of 6.2 receptions per game.
« Bonner led all returning receivers in The American and was second nationally with 98 receptions in 2016.
« 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 13th career game with 7+ receptions against ECU, finishing with seven receptions for 147 yards, his seventh career 100-yard game.
« With 181 receptions, Bonner ranks ninth on Houston’s career receptions chart and needs 20 more to move into the top eight.
« Bonner has 2,087 career receiving yards, 11th on the Houston career chart. He needs 232 more to move into the top 10.
« Dunbar has led Houston in receiving yards in five games this season with 72 off six receptions at Arizona, 83 off six receptions vs. Texas Tech, 65 yards off six receptions vs. SMU, 107 yards on 10 receptions at Tulsa and 171 yards, his fifth career 100-yard game, on six receptions vs. ECU.
« He has posted at least six receptions in eight of nine games this season for Houston.
« The senior ranks 12th on the Houston career receptions chart with 160 and needs one more to move into the top 10.
« His 2,055 yards is good for 12th on the UH chart. He needs 264 yards to move into the top 10.
« The two each went over 100 yards in the same game for the second time against ECU as Dunbar led with 171 yards and Bonner had 141 yards. The two also accomplished the feat vs. Navy in 2016.
« King stepped up vs. Temple, leading the #HTownTakeover with seven receptions for 51 yards.
« 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 had 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.
« Lark made it back-to-back weeks with a touchdown as he pulled in a 5-yard score vs. ECU.
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 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.
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 29 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 43 career games played while totaling 24 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 21 games after redshirting his first season on campus before missing the ECU game with an injury. 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.
« Sophomore Jarrid Williams made his first career start vs. ECU, stepping in at left tackle for Josh Jones.
« 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 24.3 points per game. The Houston defense has accomplished the feat despite facing five of the nation’s top 15 scoring offenses in its nine games - No. 3 Arizona, No. 6 Memphis, No. 9 SMU, No. 11 USF and No. 13 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 18th nationally and second in The American with 12 interceptions.
« 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.
« It got its first TD of the year vs. ECU as backup safety Brandon McDowell returned an ECU interception 74 yards for a score.
« Since the start of the 2013 season, no program has taken the ball away from opposing offenses more than Houston with 143 turnovers forced in that time with 17 in 2017, 18 in 2016, 35 in 2015, 30 in 2014 and 43 in 2013.
« UH has forced multiple turnovers in 49 of its last 69 games.
« Houston ranks 18th nationally and second in The American with 12 interceptions while Garrett Davis and Terrell Williams are 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 ECU game saw Terrell Williams and Brandon McDowell each pick off passes, McDowell returning his 74 yards for a touchdown, while Emeke Egbule recovered an ECU fumble.
« 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 33 career tackles for loss in only 22 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 1.48 tackles for loss per game and ranks fifth nationally with a career average of 0.23 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 in eight games played, a number that is seventh among defensive backs nationally.
« Davis, who owns 19 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 ninth nationally this season with four picks after snagging another vs. Memphis.
« Senior Terrell Williams, who owns 14 starts in two seasons, is also patrolling the Houston secondary this season, breaking up four passes while ranking ninth nationally with four interceptions including two 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. He totaled a career-high seven tackles vs. ECU.
« 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 9.6 tackles per game, a number that ranks 20th nationally.
« With Adams out vs. Memphis and limited vs. USF, Austin Robinson stepped in the starting lineup and responded with seven tackles vs. USF including two tackles for loss and one sack after totaling six stops vs. Memphis.
« Robinson continued his recent hot streak with a career-high 12 stops vs. ECU, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
« 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.
« Sophomore linebacker Leroy Godfrey recovered his first career fumble vs. Rice while also making his first career tackle for loss.
« In the ECU win, Godfrey picked up his first career sack as part of a career-high eight tackles.
« 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 #HTownTakeover is fifth 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 seventh nationally with three kickoff returns of at least 40 yards.
« Leday ranks 13th nationally and third 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 in 2017. McDowell has also seen action at kick returner, returning one kick for 35 yards vs. Rice and setting up Houston’s game-winning drive at USF with a 50-yard return.
« 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.
« 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 44.7 percent of his punts inside his opponents 20. Eleven of his 47 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 nine games this season.
« After hitting a 44-yard field goal vs. ECU, he has connected on his last six field goal attempts.
« Novikoff ranks second in The American in field goal percentage with an connection rate of 80 percent, hitting 8-of-10 field goals on the year.
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.