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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Football

Herman needs offensive improvement, Ward shakes off accolade


The Houston Cougars take on the Florida State Seminoles during the 2015 Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on Thursday afternoon, December 31, 2015. (Ben Solomon/American Athletic Conference)

As a Peach Bowl champion and now on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Greg Ward Jr. knows what it takes to find success on the football field. | File photo/The Cougar

The football team wrapped up Wednesday’s early morning practice with a realization that the offense must get better. The Cougars are expected to have one of the most prolific offensive attacks in the country this season, but as of now there is still work to be done.

“The wideouts were terrible today,” Head coach Tom Herman said. “I think probably eight dropped passes, nine, maybe 10, a bunch of mental errors. We’ve got to find three reliable guys, and if we can’t find three then we will find two.”

The practice served as the team’s first live-action scrimmage of fall camp. Football will return to regular practice for Thursday and Friday, and will have their second scrimmage on Saturday. Herman noted the importance of the scrimmage for filling out the team’s depth chart, and he hopes to have it completed by the start of next week’s practices.

The coaching staff already has a good understanding of which players will be starting, but two positions in particular are still up for grabs.

“The two (positions) I look at in terms of position battles is backup tailback and who is going to be our ‘H’ receiver,” Herman said. “Backup tailback? I don’t know, we got a walk-on from Blinn College who is taking the reps when Duke (Catalon) isn’t in there because quite frankly the other three scholarship guys have not been performing well.”

Although not pleased with the offense on Wednesday, Herman indicated that he was impressed with how members of the secondary are progressing. After losing staple secondary players such as William Jackson III and Trevon Stewart, the Cougars will have a void to fill at the position.

The legend of starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr. continued its growth on Tuesday when the senior was honored with gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2016 College Football Preview magazine.

“I’ll just say it’s a blessing,” Ward said, visibly frustrated. “That’s a pretty big accomplishment but I’m an even keel guy, I don’t get hyped about that type of stuff.”

Despite his accolade, Ward cited a practice filled with subpar effort as the reason for his frustration. Media members were anxious to hear his thoughts on the cover, but Ward’s leadership was on display when he changed the interview’s focus to his team’s on-field performance.

“It’s not about being in the spotlight right now,” Ward said. “It’s about winning games, that’s our main focus.”

The achievement did not go unnoticed by Herman, who noted that he showed Ward his cover the night before its release. Although he is proud of what Ward has achieved, he made it clear that the quarterback is “merely a representation” of the UH football program.

Ward is the fourth Herman-coached quarterback to earn a coveted magazine cover. He joins the likes of former Ohio State University signal-callers Cardale Jones, J. T. Barrett and Braxton Miller.

Despite the success of Herman’s former quarterbacks have achieved, the head coach recognizes the magnitude of Ward’s award.

“It’s been 25 years since the University of Houston has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated,” Herman said. “When things happen once every quarter of a century they are pretty significant. He’s earned it, this team has earned it. He wouldn’t be here without the program and where it is at.”

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