Football Sports

Fans, despite OU loss, have high hopes for Houston

Fans at the first tailgate expressed high hopes for the Cougars this season. | McKenzie Misiaszek/The Cougar

Fans at the first tailgate expressed high hopes for the Cougars this season. | McKenzie Misiaszek/The Cougar

Amid the thundering roar of the Spirit of Houston Cougar Marching band and following head coach Dana Holgorsen’s lead, Houston football players walked through the tailgating area in front of TDECU Stadium before their Saturday night game against Prairie View A&M in front of fans and family cheering.

Most players had a thousand-yard stare, focused and appearing preoccupied so not to be bothered by all the noise.

But some, for a moment, would break their concentrated look to hug their moms, many of whom were lined up to say good luck and embrace their sons.

“I want him to just enjoy the experience,” said Natasha McGowan, who watched her son Cole McGowan go by in the Cougar Walk pregame tradition. “I want him to listen to the crowd. I want him to look at all the red in the stands. I just want him to enjoy every minute and enjoy all senses of being able to play.”

Junior wide receiver Cole McGowan had one reception last week in Houston’s 49-31 loss to No. 4 Oklahoma. Fans at the opening tailgate for Houston expressed high hopes and felt UH football was on the right path, despite the OU loss.

Other players stopped to say a one last hello to their parents before UH’s matchup against PVAMU.

The mother McGowan said Cole has overcome two knee injuries, and she’s thankful he has the opportunity to see action.

The first home tailgate for UH was lively and packed. Alumni young and old, students and other UH fans alike got a chance to eat grilled meats and catch up with old classmates before the game.

Joaquin Perez, who graduated in 1995 with a political science degree, has been tailgating since 2003 with the same core group of friends and his family. He said he used to be able to bribe security to get a tailgating spot but now the college football tradition has gotten much larger at UH.

“It was more of a high school football atmosphere back in the day,” Perez said. “Even when we have small crowds here, it’s twice as big as what we used to have back when I first came to games.”

Perez said he was happy UH didn’t embarrass itself last week against OU, and he expected a win against PVAMU.

“Knock on wood,” Perez said. “I’ve seen UH lose some crazy games over the last 35-40 years.”

Perez’s wife Heather came to the tailgate wearing a PVAMU shirt and a UH hat. She received her master’s from Prairie View, but the team she was rooting for wasn’t a hard choice since she’s been going to Houston games for more than a decade.

“(While) I am repping my school,” she said, “UH is my football team.”

Both Perezes think the Cougars are on the right track under Holgorsen.

Kinesiology freshman Treva Ray came to the tailgate with three other first-year students and said they liked the high-energy atmosphere.

Ray’s friends too felt UH gave a good performance last week but felt that a win Saturday was nonnegotiable.

“I think they should blow them out,” Ray said. “No exceptions.”

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