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Thursday, June 1, 2023


With a new defensive coordinator, Cougars ready to takeover

Trevon Stewart Adrain McDonald WEB

While defense has always been a strong point for the Cougars, expectations for this season are at an all-time high, with a number of returning starters including a pair of ball-hawking safeties in Adrian McDonald and Trevon Stewart to lead the way in Orlando’s attacking system. | Michael Calderon/The Cougar

As the first football game of the season approaches with a new coaching staff, led by first-time head coach Tom Herman, excitement circulates around UH.

Ever since Herman’s takeover at the helm, there has been speculation as to what the coach’s signature would be in the program, especially after the hiring of new coordinators Todd Orlando and Major Applewhite.

“We are going to be very physical,” said Herman. “I’m excited to watch our defense…I think it’s championship caliber, and I’m excited to see them continue to get better as well as the physical and mental transformation of our team.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando also shared his enthusiasm and his expectations after getting acquainted with the defensive squad before the start of its training camp.

“There is a high expectation in the air, and I expect us to be very sharp,” said Orlando. “The one thing about this group that I was very impressed with was the amount of football knowledge — they know football.”

While there are some positive notes about the team, the coaching staff has needs to address after certain keys to the defense were lost last year.

“That’s a little bit of a concern,” said Orlando. “(The guys we lost) were a big voice in terms of leadership on this team. However, some guys have come along that I’m very anxious to watch upfront.”

Senior safety Adrian McDonald sees the benefit of developing the defense.

“I see guys that lead by example, and that’s big on the production level,” said McDonald. “If we (force) a couple of more turnovers and get the ball back to the offense, that’s more time for Greg (Ward, Jr.) to work his magic, and that’s what we plan to do.”

Despite the setbacks, Herman believes that with the guidance of Orlando, the squad will be able to produce.

“Our plan of winning is playing good defense…that’s the culture of this program right now and it’s a must for us,” said Orlando. “The physical toughness is how we train; we are not going to have a physical football team if we are not going to tackle every day (and) not going to put them in competitive situations where they have to be physical.”

And when it comes to returning players, Orlando has already made a good impression with recruiting.

“It’s huge you know, especially for the young recruits coming in, it starts at the field,” said senior running back Kenneth Farrow. “If we can go out there and win games, it makes it easier on them [to] build a fence around the city like it’s been talked about, come out here and show the nation we can do that.”

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