Cougars Prepping for the Big Time
The Houston Cougars will have a laser-like focus as they start practice. A focus on the University of Houston. A day-by-day focus of the team getting better. Improving as a program. Improving individually. Of making up for last season's disaster. Of proving they belong on the so-called national stage offered up by the membership in the American Athletic Conference.
UH Athletic Department It's a new season, new uniforms and new conference for the Houston Cougars.
And that focus started with meetings on Friday night and the first practices on Saturday. The coaches have to choose a quarterback. And a kicker. They've got to figure out new tackling drills because of new NCAA tackling rules. But most of all, it's about improving. About winning football games.
"We've got a group of men right now -- student-athletes -- coaching staff, that are excited about this season," Levine said Saturday morning. "We feel like we've got something to prove. And we're going to take it one day at a time. It's going to be a tremendous challenge."
The challenge starts with quarterback. Will it be David Piland, who was given the starting job to start last season and responded with less than stellar results? Or will it be stud recruit John O'Korn, upon whom many fans are placing their hopes? Or will it be somebody else? The answer to that question, if all goes as planned, should come in about two weeks.
"They're being evaluated on leadership, on how they stretch when they get on the field." Levine said. "They're being evaluated on everything they do for the next two weeks. We've got five young men who are extremely talented. Some have more experience than others. They're all from different backgrounds...everybody's in the mix."
It's not just about who has the most experience running the offense. Or who looks best throwing the football. It's about who makes the best decisions under pressure. Who best communicates to the team. Who best commands respect on the field.
"There's a lot put on the ability to just throw a pass, but for us, I think the ability to play the position is very important," new offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said. "Being a quarterback, what does that mean? It's a guy that can get you in and out of the right plays, that can communicate everything to the backs, to the o-line, to the receivers, who can do it quickly and make decisive, quick decisions."
The quarterbacks aren't the only players on a two-week deadline. Levine made it known that he's put all of the newcomers on that same timeline. Prove themselves capable of playing with the big boys in two weeks or say hello to a redshirt. That may seem a bit rash, but from that point on, Levine wants the focus to be solely on the team next up on the schedule.