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Friday, January 15, 2021

Football

UH rebuild ‘doesn’t happen overnight,’ Dana Holgorsen says


UH head coach Dana Holgorsen on the sidelines at TDECU Stadium in a game against SMU during the 2019 season. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

UH head coach Dana Holgorsen on the sidelines at TDECU Stadium in a game against SMU during the 2019 season. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Inside of UH head coach Dana Holgorsen’s office is a board that tells him the number of spots that the team needs to focus on during the upcoming recruitment class.

So far this season, he has 25 spots on his board and only 10 names that will join UH in either January or June.

“Nobody wants to hear this because everyone wants quick fixes and they want to be great now,” Holgorsen told reporters on Monday during his weekly Zoom news conference. “I’m here to build it the right way for over the course of as much time that they allow me to be able to do it.”

After Saturday’s beating at the hands of No. 6 Cincinnati, the head coach acknowledged that Houston still had ways to go before it could compete with the top teams in the American Athletic Conference. UH had just lost its second straight game against a well-established AAC team.

Holgorsen somewhat reiterated that sentiment and listed off the three opponents that Houston has lost to this season in BYU, Cincinnati and UCF, and he said that those programs all had one thing in common: their respective head coaches are multiple years into being at the helm.

Luke Fickell with the Bearcats, and Kalani Sitake with BYU both took over their programs in 2016. Josh Heupel with the Knights gained control in 2018.

For Holgorsen, who joined Houston in January 2019, having that time is what is needed to build a program into a contender, and it is what he hopes he can do at the University.

“Getting things the right way doesn’t happen overnight,” the UH coach said. “I apologize for that, our fans deserve wins. Our administration demands wins, and that’s going to happen.”

Despite the emphasis on the future, Holgorsen is not abandoning this season either. Houston’s players are still invested in getting as many wins as it can, and they showed it to the coaching staff during their practice on Sunday.

“I liked our energy,” Holgorsen said. “Our guys understand where we are at. They know that we didn’t meet the challenge of a top 10 football team and went out there and practiced hard.”

While the Cougars appear to have been snake-bit for the second year in a row with injuries to players like senior receiver Marquez Stevenson, senior defensive lineman Payton Turner and junior linebacker Donavan Mutin are all dealing with different things.

Although their status against South Florida is still unknown, it has also provided UH an opportunity to see what they have in the younger talent.

“We kept all the young, developmental guys, which was about 30 to 40 of them and we practiced them for about 30 to 45 minutes,” Holgorsen said. “There are some areas where I see future and I see hope. There are areas where I don’t, and you address that with recruiting.”

Some of the positions that Holgorsen has said in the past he is putting emphasis on are spots like the offensive line, which has had its struggles in 2020, both in terms of production and depth. During his weekly radio show last Thursday, Holgorsen said he had set aside 18 scholarships for that position.

Despite the sobering reminder against Cincinnati, Holgorsen is confident that he has seen improvement from his first season at UH, and he expects that continue.

“We’re better now than we were a year ago, and a year from now we will be a lot better than we are right now,” Holgorsen said.

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