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Monday, September 25, 2023


UH prepares for BBVA Compass Bowl

Junior linebacker Derrick Mathews strolls into the endzone after an interception in the first quarter, giving UH its first lead of the day.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

Junior linebacker Derrick Mathews hopes to anchor the defense against Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl on January 4, 2014 in Birmingham, Ala. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

The palatial surroundings of Vanderbilt — UH’s upcoming opponent in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 4 — sit more than 190 miles from Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., but to hear head coach Tony Levine say it, the collaboration between coaches and players about five miles from downtown Houston matters more to success for the Cougars in the postseason.

The Commodores (8-4) downed a then-No. 15 Georgia earlier this season, so Levine acknowledged his opponent’s success.

“It is a great program, and Coach Franklin has done a great job,” Levine said. “When you think about Vanderbilt nationally, not so much in the fan perspective but in the coaching world, you think of a program that has a great energy.”

Under third-year head coach James Franklin, the Commodores have displayed a successful program, including three bowl trips in as many years.

“I’m excited,” Franklin said. “You look at the history of Vanderbilt football, the fact that this will be our third straight bowl game, (we) have a chance to be successful on national television, our players, our coaches — our administration could not be more proud of them.”

The Commodores’ season was dotted with strong offensive outputs courtesy of redshirt senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels and senior wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who is the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards and has been named to five All-American teams.

Things, however, are a little complicated for the Commodores, as Carta-Samuels went down with a torn ACL, giving way to redshirt freshman Patton Robinette toward the end of the season. Robinette, who has started only two games, has his lone win under his belt against the Florida Gators.

Levine said he found out Monday evening about the change, and he has not made any changes with the game plan on defense.

The UH defense players, for what little knowledge they have of the Vanderbilt quarterback situation, seemed calm to the switch.

“It really doesn’t matter to us,” said junior linebacker Derrick Matthews. “It doesn’t matter who plays quarterback. We don’t change our game plan much if the starter’s not in. We’re still going to prepare as if he was in and just proceed with our game plan and play hard like we always do.”

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