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Q&A: Center looking to end career with conference title

Will Noble, third from the left, has been the starter at center for five different quarterbacks in his three years with the Cougars. In his senior year, the one goal on his mind is a conference championship, something he has not experienced since his freshman year. | Courtesy of UH Athletics

Injuries to the offensive line forced Will Noble to take over at center his freshman season in 2015, and he has been the main starter ever since. Noble has seen the highs of a conference championship and the lows of losing a bowl game.

More importantly, he has been the main defender for five different quarterbacks in just three seasons. He has seen the masterclass of Greg Ward Jr. and the struggles of the quarterback carousel in 2017.

The Cougar caught up with Noble, who’s now going into his senior year, to talk about his career and what he hopes to see in 2018.

The Cougar: When you were a freshman, what was it like getting thrown into the starting position so early in your career?

Will Noble: It’s definitely a shock. You have the practices to get ready for it, but getting thrown in there with the crowd and the people cheering — there’s a lot more pressure. But I’m glad it happened. I’m glad I didn’t screw it up. I’m glad I took advantage of the opportunity, and here I am now three years later.

TC: For those first two years, what was it like seeing the team enter the national spotlight?

Noble: Honestly, you don’t really think about it that much. It’s kinda cool to see that number when you’re ranked. But that’s not really at the forefront of your mind. No matter where you’re ranked, no matter who’s watching you, no matter what’s going on, you’ve got to watch film for the next team. So there’s not a whole lot of time, but it is cool seeing ESPN and Bleacher Report and all those outlets tweeting our stuff and hyping our school up.

TC: How have you tried to improve between each season?

Noble: Experience for one. I’ve seen a lot of stuff. I’ve seen so many defenses, so many different blitzes — I’ve been able to recognize stuff. But the stuff I’ve seen and the stuff I’ve done — you’ve got to instill that on the other people so that maybe they won’t screw it up when they see it for the first time. Maybe they’ll know what to do and know how to react. So definitely bringing others along and sharing my experiences to help the group.

TC: What was last season’s quarterback carousel like for you at center?

Noble: It definitely was a new thing that we had three different starting quarterbacks in one year. It is a little tough, not so much from an offensive line standpoint but from an overall offense. Having that many different people (back there) it’s hard to build that conference and camaraderie and chemistry. So I think having one leader back there, standing back there confident really helps the offensive out.

TC: How does it help the team knowing D’Eriq King’s going to be the starter as long as he’s healthy?

Noble: It’s a confidence booster. Everything’s a building process, and once you have the quarterback, everything can build around him and everything can build up under the direction of that one person. Him being a leader and him being the guy allows us to work through him and be comfortable that he’s going to do his job. It’s like that for anybody who’s earned a spot. It makes you feel confident that they’re going to do their job.

TC: This is your final season now. What are you hoping to see?

Noble: A conference championship. I’m trying to win. You can shoot for an undefeated season — that’s always what we want — but we want a conference championship. We want to win the American. That feeling freshman year has always been in the back of my head. Not having it the past two years has made it more and more desirable. I want to go get that conference championship and win a bowl game.

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