Game Notes - Houston vs. Cincinnati
Nov. 19, 2013
» Houston's all-time record in its first 67 years of existence is 395-344-15 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 37-23-1 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. UH is bowl eligible for the seventh time in the last nine years. Houston's three losses this season are by a combined 13 points with two on the road to ranked opponents.
» Houston's depth chart sports 23 underclassmen, including five true freshmen, vs. 24 upperclassmen, including just eight seniors.
» The Cougars lead the nation with a +22 turnover margin and 33 turnovers gained. They are 11th nationally with 11 turnovers lost.
» The Houston defense has multiple forced turnovers in 17 of its last 18 games.
» UH has outscored its opponents 172-82 in the second half of games this season.
» Sophomore FS Trevon Stewart leads the nation with a combined nine turnovers - five fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
» QB John O'Korn leads all true freshmen nationally with 23 passing touchdowns and an efficiency rating of 144.2.
» Senior punter Richie Leone is a Ray Guy Award semifinalist for the third straight year with finalists for the award named Nov. 25.
» 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 two sites in the nation's fourth-largest city. The Cougars will play five games in Reliant Stadium, home of the NFL's Houston Texans, and two games at BBVA Compass Stadium, home of MLS' Houston Dynamo.
Tommy Tubberville | Southern Arkansas. 1976 | 8-2 (1st year at Cincinnati) 139-79 (17th season as HC)
» Series Record at Houston: Houston leads, 9-3
» Series Record at Cincinnati: Cincinnati leads, 5-4
» Last Meeting: CinCinnai 47, Houston 14 (Nov. 16, 2002 at Cincinnati)
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.
» Cincinnati is 21st nationally with an average of 478.7 yards per game while its defense is eighth nationally in allowing 304.8 yards per game.
» Senior quarterback Brendon Kay (6-4, 228) has 2,411 yards through the air with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 72.6 percent of his passes this season (196-270). Junior running back Hosey Williams (5-9, 199) averages 54.6 yards a game for Cincinnati with 491 yards on 84 carries with four touchdowns, one of three Bearcat backs with at least 350 rushing yards this season. Senior wide receiver Anthony McClung (6-0, 177) leads the team in receiving with 52 receptions for 674 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore receivers Chris Moore (6-1, 190) and Mekale McKay (6-6, 195) lead the Bearcats with seven receiving touchdowns each.
» Senior linebacker Greg Blair (6-2, 252) leads Cincinnati with 71 tackles. Senior cornerback Deven Drane leads the Bearcats with three interceptions while sophomore defensive lineman Silverberry Mouhon (6-4, 248) has 6.5 sacks.
» Houston leads the overall series with Cincinnati, 13-8, including a mark of 9-3 in Houston. Cincinnati has claimed the last three meetings with the last matchup between two coming on Nov. 16, 2002, a Cincinnati 47-14 home win.when playing at Louisville.
» Houston's offensive line coach Glen Elarbee was a graduate assistant (2003-04) and tight ends coach (2005) at Middle Tennessee State while Cincinnati's passing game coordinator Darrin Hinshaw was on the Middle Tennessee staff. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Art Kaufman (2005) and defensive line coach Fred Tate (2002) were also on the staff at Middle Tennessee while Elarbee was at the school.
» Houston QB John O'Korn was a high school teammate of Cincinnati freshman WR Mark Barr, who was critically injured in an auto accident earlier this fall. The two helped lead St. Thomas Aquinas of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to the 2012 Florida 7A state title.
» Houston's defense snapped Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's 21-game streak with a passing touchdown.
» Trevon Stewart recovered his nation's leading fifth fumble of the season, Houston's lone turnover forced on the day.
» Stewart (12) and Efrem Oliphant (13) each recorded the fifth double-digit tackle games this season.
» Freshman wide receiver Demarcus Ayers recorded his third straight game with a kick return of 40 yards or more when he opened the game with a 65-yard kickoff return.
» Sophomore running back Kenneth Farrow notched his fifth rushing touchdown of the year and seventh of his career on a four-yard run to even the score at 10-10 in the second quarter.
» Sophomore kicker Kyle Bullard attempted his first collegiate field goal as he finished with makes from 46 and 22 yards out.
» 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.
» 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, and two at BBVA Compass Stadium, home of the MLS' Houston Dynamo.
» 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 1-0 all time at BBVA Compass Stadium with their 25-15 win over Memphis on Oct. 12.
» All together, the Houston offensive and defensive two-deep shows five true freshmen, four redshirt freshmen, 14 sophomores, 16 juniors and the eight 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 (8) 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.
» 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.
» Houston has won the last two conferences in its first year in the new league and has a combined conference record of 37-24-1 in the six combined seasons as a league newcomer.
» 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.
» 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.
» Houston has scored in 35 of 40 quarters (87.5 percent) with TDs in 30 quarters and double digits in 14.
» Just 35 of Houston's 141 offensive drives this season have resulted in a three-and-out (24.8 percent).
» Houston has returned to its ways this season as 25 of its 53 scoring drives this season have lasted under two minutes including 11 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.
» Eighteen drives have lasted five plays or less.
» 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 88 explosive plays on the season including 17 touchdowns.
» Demarcus Ayers leads the team with 22 explosive plays including two touchdowns. Ayers has 19 kick returns and three receptions over 20 yards. Deontay Greenberry is second with 17 receptions of 20 yards or more. Daniel Spencer has 14 explosive plays, 13 receiving and one rushing.
» Greenberry leads Houston with four touchdowns of 20 yards or longer while Spencer is second with three TDs 20+.
» Houston's 14 offensive plays of 40 yards or longer leads The American and its 59 plays of 20 yards is third in the league.
» For a full breakdown of Houston's explosive plays this season, jump to page 21 of the notes.
» 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.
» 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.
» 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 23 passing touchdowns, a number that ranks second in The American Athletic Conference behind the 24 from Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, and in passing efficiency at 144.2, which ranks fourth in the league.
» The first-year player has thrown for at least three touchdowns in six games 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 showed off his wheels against UCF as he had a career-high 56 rushing yards including a career-long 24-yard run for his first career rushing touchdown.
» He is slowly closing in on Houston's freshman passing records as he in the top three already for passing yards with 2,478, completions with 201 and touchdown passes with 23. He needs just 654 yards, three touchdowns and 20 completions to take sole possession of all three Houston freshman passing records. (see list on page 8).
» 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 in 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.
» Ward also saw time at receiver at Louisville, recording one reception for a gain of seven yards and a first down.
» 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.
» Through 10 games, Jackson has already surpassed his 2012 rushing total of 252 yards by 315 yards. The sophomore from Angleton, Texas, has 589 yards and five touchdowns on 123 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.
» If the first 10 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 44 more rushing yards.
» Farrow, who is 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. He has a rushing touchdown in three of the last four games.
» In games against Rutgers, USF and UCF, Farrow was effective when his number was called, averaging 9.1 yards a carry as he had 182 yards on 20 attempts over the three games.
» Greenberry leads The American Athletic Conference with nine receiving touchdowns, a number that ranks 10th nationally, and is fourth in the league among non-kickers with an average of 5.4 points per game.
» The Fresno, Calif., native is fourth in The American in all-purpose yards at 104.8 yards per game, adding six rushing yards to his 948 receiving yards.
» Greenberry has pulled in at least six receptions in seven of Houston's 10 games with double-digit receptions against Temple (14) and BYU (11).
» 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 is second in 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.
» With eight receptions for 94 yards at UCF, Greenberry became 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.
» He needs just 157 yards to break the top 10 for receiving yards in a season at Houston and 317 yards to break the top 10 for yards in a career at Houston.
» Greenberry was removed from Houston's game at Louisville last week after taking a shot to the head in the first quarter.
» Through 10 games, the Houston defense leads the nation as it has forced 33 turnovers, 15 fumbles and 18 interceptions. Houston is second nationally with the 15 fumble recoveries and third nationally with the 18 interceptions.
» On the other side of the ball, Houston has committed just 11 turnovers: five fumbles and six interceptions. The 11 turnovers lost rank 11th nationally and is second in The American behind Louisville (9).
» Nine different players have interceptions for the Houston defense with Trevon Stewart leading the way with four interceptions, a number that is second in The American and ranks 17th nationally.
» Nine Cougars have fumble recoveries, led by Trevon Stewart with five recoveries, a number that leads the nation, while nine have forced fumbles including five players with two forced fumbles.
» If you haven't picked up on it yet, free safety Trevon Stewart is a turnover machine. The sophomore leads the nation with a combined nine interceptions and fumble recoveries, five fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
» Houston has forced multiple turnovers in nine games this season - Southern (4), Temple (3), Rice (2), UTSA (5), Memphis (4), BYU (3), Rutgers (6), USF (2) and UCF (3) - and its 17-game streak of forcing multiple turnovers ended at Louisville.
» The 33 turnovers have resulted in 110 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.
» 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.
» Players routinely credit the ability to create turnovers on the emphasis paid on turnovers in practice, especially in Turnover Tuesdays.
» 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.
» The unit took a hit in the season opener as OT Ralph Oragwu suffered a knee injury and has missed the last eight 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 36 career starts including 12 at left tackle in 2012.
» The offensive line group consists of seven players with a combined 137 games of starting experience - Harper (36), RG/C Kevin Forsch (29), LG Ty Cloud (26), C Bryce Redman (18), G/T DeAnthony Sims (12), Oragwu (11) and T Zach Johnson (10).
» The group of starters sports an average height of 6-3 with an average weight of 311 pounds.
» The line currently ranks fourth in The American Athletic Conference with 20 sacks given up.
» 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.
» 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 4.8 three-and-outs per game, a number that is second in The American to Louisville (5.4) and is 19th nationally. On 43 of Houston opponents' 128 drives or 33.6 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.
» UH has allowed just five rushes of 20 yards or more, a number that leads The American.
» The defense is ninth nationally and third in the American in allowing 12 plays of 30 yards or longer.
» Houston ranks fourth nationally among most improved scoring defenses. In giving up 21.8 points per game, Houston is allowing 14.2 points less per game than last year.
» The defense held UCF (19) and Louisville (20) to their lowest scoring outputs of the season, with both teams scoring 16 points less then their season average.
» 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.
» 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.
*does not include six points from a blocked FG returned for a TD
» Mathews leads the team with 13 career double-digit tackle games. Mathews had 12 stops vs. BYU to record his 13th career double-digit tackle game.
» Efrem Oliphant has come on as of late with 80 of his 98 tackles on the year coming in the last seven games. After recording 13 tackles vs. USF, Oliphant took over the team lead in the category and is now 19th 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.
» The group has also made a name for itself in the takeaway department, recording 21 of the team's 33 turnovers.
» 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 leads the nation with five fumble recoveries and four interceptions, a number that ranks 17th nationally. Stewart has also forced two fumbles.
» Behind linebacker Derrick Mathews' 36 starts, senior cornerback Zach McMillian has the most starts of all defensive players with 34 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.
» Senior Thomas Bates led the team last season in passes broken up in 2012, 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 and leads the team with eight on the season.
» 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 as he is fourth in The American with three interceptions to go along with 67 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.
» Mathews was named The American's Defensive Player of the Week with his performance against BYU. 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 322 career tackles. He is 23 stops away from cracking the Houston top-10 career list for total tackles and six assisted tackles away from the top-10 list for career assisted tackles.
» Mathews leads all linebackers in The American and owns the team lead with six sacks.
» The junior cracked the top 10 for tackles for loss in a career at Houston with his three tackles for loss at Louisville. Mathews currently has 38 tackles for loss including 11 this season, a number that leads all linebackers in The American.
» Mathews' replacement on the weakside is junior Efrem Oliphant, a veteran of 33 career games with 13 career starts, including three as a true freshman in 2010 when he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team. A junior, Oliphant has 10.5 tackles for loss, eclipsing the 3.5 TFLs he recorded in his first two seasons of action. Oliphant also has his first career sacks (3), 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 six games, Oliphant has totaled 80 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 fourth on the team with 67 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.
» 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 22 tackles. Farley leads the group with seven tackles for loss including two sacks.
» 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 38 tackles, including five for a loss, three 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 five sacks on the year and is currently third nationally for sacks by a freshman.
» Junior defensive end Eric Braswell, who has 19 career starts, is involved in the defensive end rotation as is Cameron Malveaux, has bulked up to 252 pounds on his 6-6 frame. Malveaux recorded his first career fumble at UCF.
» A Ray Guy Award semifinalist for the third straight year, 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 49 punts through 10 games, Leone carries an average of 42.7 yards per punt. Twenty-four of Leone's 49 punts (49 percent) have landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line including 11 inside the 10 and 10 kicks over 50 yards, including three over 60.
» Leone currently ranks second in UH history with an average of 42.9 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 then 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 62 kickoffs with 30 touchbacks including one from his own 20 after a 15-yard penalty at Rutgers.
» 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.
» Twenty-one of Leone's 49 punts (42.9 percent) have been fair caught by opponents.
» Richie Leone (30) and Ty Cummings (1) have a combined 31 touchbacks on Houston's 64 kickoffs.
» Eighteen of Leone's last 28 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks including all eight at Rutgers.
» At kick returner, Houston 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 31 returns on the season and leads The American Athletic Conference with an average return of 27.5 yards per return, a number that ranks 15th nationally. He has had a return of at least 40 yards in five games this season including the last three games.
» The freshman leads the nation with 10 kickoff returns over 30 yards.
» 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 four of Houston's last six games.
» The first-year collegiate player has set the UH freshman record with his 854 yards and ranks fourth on the UH single-season chart regardless of class. He needs just 50 yards to crack the top three and is 320 yards away from the single-season record.
» 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 for 41 yards.
» Bullard has seen action in five games this season and has connected on all 11 extra point attempts.
» He nailed his first two collegiate field goal attempts last Saturday at Louisville - hitting kicks from 46 and 22 yards out.
» Bullard earned second team Texas All-State honors as a senior at Samuel V. Champion High School in Boerne, Texas.
» Also an All-State soccer player, Bullard hit a career-long field goal of 49 yards in high school.