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Friday, September 29, 2023


Houston football sees new schemes

Rain and cold weather kept the Cougar football team indoors for its second practice under head coach Kevin Sumlin on Monday, where Sumlin stressed the equal importance of all aspects of the game.

"Coach, all-around, has put more emphasis on special teams, defense, offense and every player has to man up," junior defensive end Phillip Hunt said. "It’s a competitive sport here, he taught us that, and that every player on the field is going to compete."

First impressions have been good for both parties. Redshirt freshman Case Keenum said it has been fun learning a new offense.

"It’s going good. We got high intensity and we’re keeping the tempo up," Keenum said. "It’s a lot of fun learning a new offense. We got a lot of guys in here and it’s definitely a new atmosphere from what it has been, but it’s always fun to learn something new and these coaches are very knowledgeable and good teachers."

Sumlin acknowledged that putting in two new schemes will take some time. Defensively, the Cougars will move to a 4-3 scheme from the 4-2-5 that they ran last season.

"I think that they’re getting used to the tempo in which we want to practice and play, and that’s different from coach to coach," Sumlin said. "They’re just feeling us out a little bit and they’re learning two new systems. The pace of play will pick up as guys get more and more comfortable to the schemes and the drills."

Hunt may be one of the beneficiaries of the switch, which adds another pass rusher up front.

Hunt is among 54 players named to the preliminary watch list for the 2008 Rotary Lombardi Award, which is given to the best collegiate lineman.

"It’ll (moving to a 4-3 defense) help me a lot," Hunt said. "It puts more pass rushers on the field and it allows me more one-on-one match-ups."

On offense, fans can expect more of a passing game and fewer judgment lapses.

"(Coach wants) less mental mistakes and better technique," freshman running back Terrance Ganaway said. "I think we’re going to pass a little bit more, but it’s going to go back to what’s happening and during the game, how it’s affecting the defense."

The Cougars will lose some significant pieces of the squad, especially on offense. Former wide receiver Donnie Avery and former running back Anthony Alridge accounted for 4,138 of the Cougars’ 8,170 all-purpose yards last season, but it’s their leadership that Houston may miss the most.

"We’re going to have to have a lot of guys step up," Keenum said. "That’s the way it goes. Every year you graduate key players, but there’s going to be some new faces step up and make a name for themselves."

The running game may come from running backs Ganaway and redshirt freshman Andre Kohn, who both backed up Alridge last season.

Ganaway was second on the team with 550 rushing yards and he knows that rebuilding will be something the team has to go through together.

"We’re going to make some changes and it’s going to be good, so I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat," Ganaway said.

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