With the heat index climbing towards 100 degrees, the Houston Cougars took to their brand new practice football field to kickoff their 2013-14 campaign. The Coogs, who finished last season with a record of 5-7, will have a unique opportunity to have a complete fresh start.
The team has a new practice field with artificial turf on one side and grass on the other. The Cougars will also have new uniforms, helmets and a new conference this upcoming season and a brand new stadium the following season.
From the looks of the team’s first practice, it is obvious that the one thing the team won’t be changing is their fast pace.
“It’s a little bit of our brand, it’s our style, we feel like we can recruit those type of skill guys to come here, be explosive and get them the ball in space. The trend right now in college football and even in the National Football League is no huddle, up-tempo, spreading people out and it’s probably a bad era right now to be a defensive coordinator. There are a couple of leagues that still use what we call 21 personnel with two backs and a tight end and a huddle-up where they pound the football. There will be a couple of teams who do that in the American Athletic Conference as well. That’s been our brand and something we have been tremendously successful with.” Says Houston’s head coach Tony Levine.
One of the things that stood out at the practice is that the Coogs are in a well heated battle for the quarterback position, as redshirt Junior David Piland tries to hold on to his starting spot.
“David had a great spring. We had 15 spring practices and Piland got a lot of reps as did (Bram) Kohlhausen and they both had great springs, David in particular. I like the spring he had, but we’re not out there with them during the summer. .” says Houston’s head coach Tony Levine. “He is going to be a redshirt junior this year and we’ll see where he is tonight. I know where he was last April when he threw four touchdowns in the spring game. We’ll see how much he has improved with his own work during the summer.”
The look of the Cougars backfield has a different look also as offensive threat, Charles Sims, decided to leave the program during the offseason. The Cougars will most likely lean on Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow.
“When you talk about the running back position I think everyone saw what Ryan Jackson is capable of doing in our final game last season when he went for over 100 yards. He’s a home run hitter. Kenneth Farrow is another one, they have different styles, but he is a guy we can look at count on to get the ball into the end zones.”
One of the challenges the Cougars will face is being forced to play their home games in different venues including Reliant Stadium and the BBVA Compass Stadium, both in Houston, TX.
Houston will also have tougher in-conference competition to face this year, but the team seems to be looking forward to the challenge.
The University of Houston starts their season on August 30th vs. the Southern Jaguars in Houston, Texas.