Dec. 15, 2011
Houston, Texas - Bowl preparation for Houston Football is underway and the Cougars are busy practicing for the Jan. 2 TicketCity Bowl against Penn State at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas.
Practices have been upbeat under the watch of Interim Head Coach Tony Levine and the team has utilized these early workouts to not only stay fresh for the final game of the season, but also work in a number of young players with an eye towards the future.
"Balance is important in these early bowl practices," Levine said. "You want to keep your guys sharp and prepared and you also want to get some of those younger guys increased opportunities as well. It's an important time of the year for us."
Among players getting extended work during this bowl prep season is David Piland. A sophomore, Piland has not played this year and would be in line for a redshirt. A native of Southlake, Texas, Piland earned Freshman All-America honors in 2010, throwing for 2,641 yards in eight games to go with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Piland averaged 316.5 yards passing per game in Conference USA play, which led the league. He also led the Cougars to five wins, despite being thrown into action midway through his rookie campaign.
"It's been a great opportunity for me, to watch and learn from some veteran quarterbacks this season," Piland said. "I think the biggest adjustment is that I needed to learn how to stay aggressive, but not turn the ball over. Case (Keenum) does such a great job of putting pressure on a defense and he does it without making bad throws or bad decisions. He's a mature player back there and it's a great asset for all of our quarterbacks."
Piland has made strides this season and is eyeing 2012 as an opportunity to build on a solid start to his UH career.
"I can't wait to get back out there," Piland said. "It was tough not having a chance to play this year, but it was a growing process, one that will make me a better quarterback. With that said, I can't wait to get out there and compete for playing time, especially with another year of experience under my belt."
Houston fans are encouraged to come out and watch Piland and the Cougars on Saturday afternoon at a rare open practice. Practice will begin at 2 p.m. on the Carl Lewis International Track and Field Complex.
The team will sign autographs for approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the workout.