The New-Look Cougars Prep for a New Day in the Sun
It's a new day for Houston Cougars football. A new coach and a new coaching staff. A new quarterback. New receivers. New helmets. New uniforms. New logo. They're going to a new conference next season. They've got one year left in the old stadium.
Are you ready for some Cougar football?
But all of the newness brings questions. Questions like will the new team be any good? After all, the Cougars went 13-1 last season and were an upset loss in the C-USA title game away from playing in a BCS Bowl. And that new quarterback's replacing a legend, a legend that holds and will probably hold for a long time many of the offensive records in the UH record book.
New head coach Tony Levine, who took over from Kevin Sumlin last December after Sumlin departed for Texas A&M, says he's been talking a lot about departed players and about changes since he assumed control. Those are issues for others to worry about. As far as he's concerned, the Houston Cougars you see take the field against Texas State on September 1st will be pretty much like the Houston Cougars you saw take on Penn State at the TicketCity Bowl last January, especially when it comes to the offense.
"We're going to be up-tempo," he said Monday. "It's going to be no-huddle. It's going to be very, very similar to where, if somebody's been out of town since last December, and they come watch us play on September 1st, they wouldn't necessarily know there's been a change on the offensive side of the football."
Case Keenum is gone. So are Bryce Beall and Michael Hayes and Tyron Carrier and Patrick Edwards and Justin Johnson (though Johnson will be a quality control coach for the offense this season). But the Cougars do have some major players returning this season who are experienced, who have played, who have started, and who do know what they're doing.
The offensive line returns four starters, and running back Charles Sims and quarterback David Piland consider the returning guys on the offensive line to be of the upmost importance. And people should recognize the name of Charles Sims. Sims was, after all, the 2009 C-USA Freshman of the Year. And all that he did last season was average 7.5 yards a rush for a total of 821 yards and nine touchdowns while hauling in 51 passes for 575 yards and four touchdowns.
Then there's Piland, the redshirt sophomore who knows a thing or two about being the starting quarterback for the Cougars, primarily because he was, in 2010, the starting quarterback for the Cougars as a freshman after Keenum and Keenum's backup, Cotton Turner, were both knocked out for the season in game three that year against UCLA.