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Monday, August 21, 2017

Football

At media day, Cougars hope to move on from Herman


“We are hungry, and we are all ready to go,” All-American defensive lineman Ed Oliver said while taking questions on media day. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

A round of interviews with star players and coaches at the Athletics/Alumni Center kicked off the 2017 season for the Cougars on Sunday. The team looks to start fresh with a new head coach after a year of ups and downs that ended in a 9-3 record.

Focusing on the future and forgetting the past were the clear messages of the team. Head coach Major Applewhite was first up at the podium, and the day ended with defensive lineman Ed Oliver.

The atmosphere was significantly quieter than when former coach Tom Herman was at the podium last season. Applewhite made clear that the Cougars are still ready to compete, even though the team is getting far less attention than they were last year. Applewhite said he only wanted the best from his players moving forward.

“I want smart, tough, dependable football players,” Applewhite said. “There are a lot of tough guys in football, but they are not always smart and dependable. I want all three of those qualities from our players.”

The head coach also discussed his new plans for training camp and his coaching style, which he said he hopes the other coaches adopt quickly.

“From a coaching standpoint, it matters how we teach and getting the players to understand why,” Applewhite said. “Why they are using certain techniques, why they are walking through this, why they are watching film. It’s important.”

The focus for the beginning of camp will be to let the players get back in the swing of things and prepare them for their basic techniques and assignments. The second half of camp will be reserved for getting prepared for, University of Texas at San Antonio.

Applewhite said UTSA is a small school that has quietly made a name for itself, but it will make a true adversary for UH as its first opponent.

Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson followed Applewhite, and seemed excited to get back on the field and get the players to work on the upcoming season.

The biggest question going into the season is who will be the man behind center. Johnson said he needs to see more from the three quarterbacks, Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen, senior Kyle Postma and sophomore D’Eriq King, before coming close to a decision.

“This will be truly our first chance to look at those guys fully healthy and ready to go. It should be an interesting battle,” Johnson said. “I think all those guys are unique in their skill set and talent level, and we need to put them in a position where they can succeed.”

Following the coaches, players were made available to the media and were capped off by All-American defensive lineman and sophomore Ed Oliver, who was optimistic about the team’s outlook.

“We are hungry, and we are all ready to go,” said Oliver. “It starts with the front three, there is three of us out there. We do our job, and the linebackers will be able to do their job, and the DBs will be able to their job. If we do our job, we will be solid.”

Training camp for the Cougars will continue for the rest of the summer until their first game on Sept. 2 at UTSA.

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