Outside receiver piece added to offensive puzzle
Markeith Ambles kept his hands up to signal a touchdown as soon as he scored against Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl … he still had them up, even when his teammates picked him up to celebrate. He waited for that moment.
“I finally got a touchdown. It was something that I’ve been looking forward to all year long,” Ambles said.
With Travis Bush the new offensive coordinator, the Cougar offense will look to be a lot less “predictable” and get the ball into the hands of playmakers — like Ambles, an outside receiver — other than inside receivers Deontay Greenberry (junior) and Daniel Spencer (senior) who both led the team in receiving yards.
“I think we’ll be a lot more balanced and look to be a lot less predictable and spread the ball to the outside receivers more,” said sophomore quarterback John O’ Korn. “We got a lot of guys coming back, and I’m excited to see the production that we’re going to have this year.
UH fans saw Ambles put on his best performance as a Cougar since his season began in week three against Rice. He entered with 11 catches for 147 yards in nine games but had six catches for 105 yards and his lone touchdown in the final game.
“I don’t ever feel down or bad because I know that if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, (production) is going to show eventually,” Ambles said.
The senior began at USC then transferred to Arizona Western before coming to UH last summer. Ambles was looked at as premier target, but was once again in a new offensive system. He also didn’t have the luxury to practice with the team last spring or summer.
“It was tough for him to pick up the offense when he got here but improved every day and began to pick it up,” O’ Korn said.
He was a non-factor in his first nine games. He didn’t have a catch in games against BYU and Rutgers and limited to one in five others. He said he always holds himself to high standards, regardless of the circumstances. Head coach Tony Levine said it took time for him to get acclimated.
“Fairly, when a young man comes in, you’ve got tremendously high expectations for him. But it takes time,”Levine said. “There are expectations, and we saw what he’s capable of in the bowl game. He’s a very special and talented young man.”
Ambles said he began to find himself as the season progressed, which led to his break-out game against Vanderbilt.
“I started to be myself. When I first got to (UH), I was just thinking about being great. But I started not caring about (being great) as much and just began to go out there and wanting to win on every play.”
Ambles got in rhythm with O’ Korn in the third quarter of the bowl game and helped almost solidify the second half comeback. Ambles said O’ Korn told him “I’m going to keep coming to you.” He replied: “Keep them coming. I’m going to keep catching them.”
“I leave it in God’s hands. Whenever it’s my time to shine, then it’s going to be my time.”
Ambles shined that day and said he plans to have similar performances when the seasons starts.