Head coach Tony Levine said UH is anxious for a win but will not be satisfied with one victory.
“Winning one football game — while that’s our focus against Rice — I don’t want you to think that we’re going to be in the locker room hugging, crying, high-fiving and throwing Gatorade on each other,” Levine said.
The Cougars are searching for their first win next week in a rivalry game against Rice on Sept. 29, but the injury bug that has bitten the Cougars all season could be one of their toughest opponents.
An early bye week comes at a perfect time because it will allow UH to return some of its key players.
Junior running back Charles Sims was a late scratch from the UCLA game, but is expected to play in the Bayou Bucket.
“Right now he’s day-to-day. The training staff is confident that not only will he play in the Rice game but he will be practicing by Friday of this week at length,” Levine said.
Sims injured his hip on the second offensive play against Louisiana Tech but continued to compete and finished the game. He was unable to practice from Sept. 11 through Thursday. The team traveled to Pasadena, Calif. on Friday, so Sims was a game time decision.
On the field, UH decided to hold Sims back when he was unable to run full speed without pain.
Injuries limited UH’s options on the ground against UCLA, Levine said.
“The game plan going into UCLA included having (Sims) and also not having (Sims). And then in the first quarter we lose Ryan Jackson to a leg injury. We look back at what we did offensively against Louisiana Tech, not statistically, but with personnel groupings and different formations, now literally our top three backs are down to one,” Levine said.
Center Kevin Forsch, right tackle Ralph Oragwu, wide receivers Larry McDuffey and Andrew Rodriguez, safety Jeffrey Lewis and cornerback Thomas Bates are expected to return against Rice, Levine said.
The Bayou Bucket, UH’s Conference USA opener, begins a new season for the Cougars, Levine said.
“It’s now become a nine game season, starting with our first conference opponent in Rice,” he said. “Our main goal is still out in front of us — and that’s to win a conference championship.”