Fighting Words

THE ISSUE: What are the odds that the 2007 UH football team is remembered†more for its defensive intensity and big plays than Anthony Alridge and his all-purpose splendor?

A season to remember

Eli Jabbe

The Houston Cougars have a great 2006 season to look back on, winning the Conference USA title, but now the focus is on the 2007 season, and who will step up for the football team?

First of all, hopefully offensive lineman Jerrod Butler is able to recover, and the team doesn’t have any similar incidents. With the absence of star quarterback Kevin Kolb, it will be senior running back Anthony Alridge who will shine in the Coogs’ offense. True, the Cougar defense will definitely hold it’s own, but Alridge will impress, whether it’s rushing, returning (he led the nation last season with 10.1 yards per catch), or receiving. However, it’s important to remember, people, when the smoke clears it’s not really all about who gets the spotlight, it’s all about racking up wins as a team.

Grade: B+

There’s no reason to doubt "Quick Six"

Jong Lee

This is a tough one because we’ve all seen what Alridge could do with the ball last season. Albeit he wasn’t used as a full-time back, so it could be difficult to gauge what his performance could be over a full season. The defense seems a little suspect to me. They lost a couple key players in the secondary and linebacker Wade Koehl is gone. One of the things going for them is the return of safety Rocky Schwartz.

I don’t see the quarterback battle as big as people make it out to be. If the Cougars could just get a guy to fit in head coach Art Briles’ system, they’re going to be fine. The wide receivers this season are going to be a big factor. Both Donnie Avery and Jeron Harvey are going to make plays. Harvey will be a definite weapon sliding up into the starting lineup. He has a height, size and speed to make him one of the best receivers in Conference USA.

Grade: B

Defense is going to kick so much butt

Chris McCown

Well, of course the first question is how the team will replace Kolb. The quarter back position is still the most important on the field – whether it’s Joseph, Al Pena or redshirt freshman Case Keenum, the quarterback will need to be at least average for the Cougars to get back to the penthouse of Conference USA again. And if they aren’t average, they are going to be known for their poor quarterbacking rather than Alridge or the defense.

In the end I think the defense is going to be what gets this club wins. With Schwartz coming back, quick defensive end Phillip Hunt blowing by tackles to pressure the quarterback and defensive tackle Cody Pree able to take up multiple blockers per play, this defense has the core of a club that could easily force three or four turnovers a game. Alridge will get the prestige, as he should, but the defense is where it starts with for the 2007 Coogs.

Grade: A-

Someone had to go with the defense

Jude Dredd

There’s nothing more beautiful to Judge Dredd’s cold, steel-like and ultra-manly eyes than smash-mouth football. This is because Judge Dredd is a firm believer that a great defense will take any coach a long way.

That’s why Judge Dredd’s barbed wire-laced, Hemi-powered heart skipped a beat when he read Chris’s prediction that UH’s defense would get more recognition this year than UH’s resident speedster Alridge.

Judge Dredd is not sure that what will happen, but he likes that Chris had the grapefruits to take a chance and go with the defense. Despite the fact that all-powerful Judge Dredd is expecting a monster year from Alridge running behind that stacked offensive line, he has to give his props to the other man on campus that obviously loves defense as much as he does, in a manly, non-weird kind of way.

Chris wins this round of Fighting Words.

Fighting Words is a sports forum among Daily Cougar columnists. A question is posed to the group and anything goes. Their answers are ranked and based on which one’s the best at beating down the other two.

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