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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Football

Cage Rage marks sense of normalcy as football season approaches


UH football head coach Dana Holgorsen speaks to the UH student body during Cage Rage on Friday night. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

UH football head coach Dana Holgorsen speaks to the UH student body during Cage Rage on Friday night. | James Schillinger/The Cougar

Dana Holgorsen left practice Friday afternoon and made his way to TDECU Stadium. Around the same time, Chris Pezman made his way to the stadium from his office.

But this walk was not like any typical walk that Holgorsen and Pezman often take around the UH campus. Rather, it signified a return to a sense of normalcy after the 2020 football season and gameday atmosphere was marred by COVID-19.

Instead of seeing a few faces far and in between on a barren campus like in 2020, Holgorsen and Pezman saw a sea of students forming a line that wrapped all around TDECU Stadium waiting to get into Cage Rage, a pep rally to build hype for the 2021 Houston football season.

The number of students and alumni that showed up to Cage Rage was a welcoming site for both Holgorsen and Pezman.

“You see all these students down here,” Holgorsen said.  “I tell you when I left that practice right there, they were lined up all the way back over here (to the football practice facility). That’s the way it should be.”

After addressing members of Cougar Pride in the Cougar Club inside the stadium, Holgorsen and the UH football captains headed down to the field around 8:30 p.m., taking the stage to the roar of the crowd. 

“It feels good to be back doesn’t it,” Holgorsen said. “It feels good to be back.”

Holgorsen emphasized how important the students’ presence at games would be for the Cougars’ to be successful, starting with UH’s week one matchup against Texas Tech on Sept. 4 at NRG Stadium.

“They go by Wreck’Em Tech. Nah, we’re going to wreck Tech,” Holgorsen said as the crowd erupted with cheers.

Starting quarterback Clayton Tune told the students the same thing his head coach did, thanking everyone for showing up at Cage Rage and promising that the team would deliver a dominant performance against the Red Raiders to open up the season.

The Cougars are hopeful that the return to a more normal gameday atmosphere will help them elevate their play throughout the 2021 season as they strive to make UH football relevant to the city once again after years of losing seasons.

Pezman is confident that the UH football team will deliver and believes Cage Rage was yet another sign that UH and its athletics programs are on the rise and garnering more and more support from students, alumni and fans as each day goes by.

“We’re aging into our alumni base,” Pezman said. “We’re a young University. Our students are our future and anyway we can have this and do it over and over again and get them integrated into our campus by coming back, that’s important.”

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