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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Avery takes a fall; Cougars hear the roar

The Cougars completed another practice on Thursday, one of the last few before the season opener at Oregon on Sept. 1, going mostly through situational plays.

There was a scare toward the end of practice when senior wide receiver Donnie Avery’s left knee was caught under his body. Avery ran an out-route when the Cougars were practicing a third-and-eight play and the pass was a little too high.

Avery went up in the air and sophomore linebacker Matt Nicholson collided with Avery. Avery’s left knee buckled when he landed on the turf, and he was down for nearly a minute. He got up on his own power and hobbled toward the side.

Head coach Art Briles, however, said that it wasn’t as serious as it looked.

"(Avery’s) going to be fine," Briles said. "I think he got a slight hyperextension in his knee or MCL (medial collateral ligament), but he’s going to be fine."

Other than Avery’s knee, the Cougars went through practice without any other injuries.

Houston went through its first practice with simulations of crowd noises. Redshirt freshman quarterback Case Keenum said that there were good and bad moments when they brought out the noise.

"(The practice) went well. We got the noise out to try and replicate what we’re going to hear in Oregon, and that showed us some weaknesses that we had," Keenum said. "We need to do a little better job communicating before we get on the field.

"We did exactly what we came out to do: Work on what you got planned and show some holes and some stuff we got…. Now we can go back and look at some film and see what went well and what went wrong. We should get better every day, and that’s what we’re out here to do."

With the departure of quarterback Al PeÒa, the competition for the starting quarterback job is down to sophomore Blake Joseph and Keenum, who said that competition has not changed.

"Nothing’s changed for us," Keenum said. "We come out here and work real hard every day. We make each other better. We’ll go back to the film room and critique each other with the looks that we get, and it’s going well. We’re making ourselves better quarterbacks everyday."

The Cougars also practiced a lot of third-and-short situations.

"We put ourselves in position to make stops and get out on third-and-long and get off the field," junior linebacker Chris Pilot said. "It went pretty well for the most part, but we still have a little work to do before Oregon. But we were pretty good today."

The defensive scheme for the Cougars has gone from the 3-4 to the 4-2-5. It may look different, but Pilot said that it’s not that big of a change.

"It wasn’t real difficult to switch defensive schemes. We kind of kept it the same but put different players in it. We put in guys with a lot of speed who can get to the end," Pilot said.

With a little more than a week left until the Cougars face the Ducks, Briles said that his team needs to be more consistent.

"I thought we came in and did well, and the music went down, and we lost a little bit of our energy. But that’s when we need our guys to step up and keep it alive for us, because football is a sport where you have to play with a lot of emotion, and that’s the way we need to practice," Briles said. "We weren’t consistent on either side of the ball, and that’s what we got to do, play with consistent energy."

Butler heads home

Sophomore Jerrod Butler will be released from Methodist Hospital on Friday. Butler was hospitalized Aug. 13 after collapsing in the UH weight room.

Doctors have found an abnormality in Butler’s heart and have corrected it.

"We were able to find out the problem with his heart, and Jerrod will be able to go home (Friday)," Dr. James Muntz, a consulting physician for UH, told the Houston Chronicle. "He was seen by Dr. Nadim Nasir, a cardiac electrophysiologist, who identified a very specific electrical abnormality that was corrected."

Cougars show love to fans

The Cougars will hold their annual Fan Appreciation Night at 5:30 p.m. today in the Yeoman Field House. The University of Houston Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will hold Fan Appreciation Night to give fans a chance to meet the Cougar football team.

"We’re doing it inside so weather is not a factor. Fans can meet coaches and players and interact with them," Director of Athletics Dave Maggard said. "We’ll talk a little bit about the team and expectations. It’s a good opportunity to touch the fans and to share information about the team."

There is a pep rally scheduled for 6 p.m. and Maggard and Briles will be there to talk to the fans.

Activities for the event include a 20-yard shuttle run, a field-goal kick, Cougar tire toss and video games – including EA Sports’ NCAA Football 08.

"(Fan appreciation) is really an event for the entire family," Director of Marketing and Promotions Lee De Leon said. "We want people to make a connection between the fans and the team, and we really want people to come and mingle with the team."

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