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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Football

‘They were deconditioned’: Dana Holgorsen says UH needs weeks of practice before first game


Head coach Dana Holgorsen addressing the media during the 2019 season. On Tuesday afternoon, the head coach said he is aiming for 25-30 practices before the start of the season against Memphis. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Head coach Dana Holgorsen addressing the media during the 2019 season. On Tuesday afternoon, the head coach said he is aiming for 25-30 practices before the start of the season against Memphis. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The Houston football team is 25 days away from kicking off the 2020 season as of Tuesday afternoon, and while the Cougars have been back since mid-July for workouts, head coach Dana Holgorsen knows they are ways away from being ready for the first game on the schedule.

“(We are) still three and half weeks away (until the Memphis game), and I think we need it,” Holgorsen said on Tuesday afternoon during a Zoom video conference call with media.

The head coach said that the Cougars have had to battle through a bunch of adversity since initially returning to campus for voluntary workouts on June 1.

“We were without (the players) for three to four months,” Holgorsen said. “(When) we came back on June 1, they were deconditioned. We got a couple of weeks with them. We made some gains and then we had to hit the pause button again. Then we got them back mid-July, and they were deconditioned.”

One challenge that UH has been able to avoid since returning to campus in mid-July according to the head coach, however, has been COVID-19 stoppage, which has allowed them to get the student-athletes into a routine needed to ramp up conditioning, but the staff is not rushing the players to get to that point.

“It’s been good,” he said. “We’ve been back for about five weeks. (We’re) trying to ease everyone back into it. You’ve got to be careful with how much volume you’re giving your guys because you want to be fresh and ready for that first game.”

Even though UH got to have nine practices in the spring, Holgorsen does not believe that those workouts have given the Cougars an advantage since returning because of the extended layoff that the team was on.

On top of that, about 35 percent of the team was not on the roster for those workouts according to Holgorsen, which leaves the Cougars with the challenge of working on strength and conditioning at the same time as focusing on the X’s and O’s of football.

“You usually get eight to nine weeks of strength and conditioning in the summer, but nobody got that,” Holgorsen said. “It’s a constant everyday battle.”

A huge part of the challenge since returning has been that everyone is on a different level in regards to their conditioning, Holgorsen said, which is why the coach is glad he still has over three weeks to prepare for the Tigers.

“We’re not in shape to play football right now,” he said. “We haven’t had the physical nature of practice that we need prior to be ready for the first game.

“There’s still guys, five weeks later, that we have in strength and conditioning only, and we won’t let them put a helmet on, and we won’t let them put pads on because they’re not conditioned to the point (needed).”

Despite all the obstacles the Cougars have to hurdle over to get to Sept. 19 when they are scheduled to face Memphis, the 49-year-old head coach is aiming to get in at least 25 total practices to get the players to the level needed to start a season, and he continues to push a resilient attitude.

“I’ve stressed, roll with the punches, things are going to change,” Holgorsen said. “When we have opportunities, whoever’s here, let’s make the most of it. That’s our attitude right now.”

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