Coogs face improved Pitt team

Rohith Nandagiri

Staff Writer

Heading into the weekend's showdown, both the Houston Cougars and the Pittsburgh Panthers are trying to prove something to themselves and their fans.

The Cougars (0-2) come in with disappointing efforts against good competition in the past two weeks.

Pittsburgh (1-1) played No. 1 Penn State and lost 34-17 in a game which was not as close as the score indicated.

Last year, the Cougars beat the Panthers in overtime 42-35, as Antowain Smith ran wild with 192 yards.

Also in that game, Chuck Clements threw four touchdowns including the game winner to Robbie Wheeler. Ketric Sanford had 82 yards on 15 carries.

However, the Pittsburgh run defense is much improved from last year as it allowed only 107 yards on 42 carries for Penn State. "Our defense, as a whole, is much improved," said first year Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris. "But we still have a long way to go. If we can stop Houston's running game we will be in good shape, but the talent and speed of their receivers may cause problems.

Houston coach Kim Helton said, "(The Panthers) are a better team than they were (last season). If we can eliminate the mistakes, it will be a good football game."

Some offensive players to watch from Pittsburgh are running back Dwayne Schulters, receivers Jake Hoffart and Terry Murphy, and Pete Gonzalez as quarterback.

Defensive stars are Phil Clarke (who already has two sacks and five tackles for losses), Ernest Coakley (also has two sacks) and Tray Crayton (two interceptions).

For the Cougars to win, they must stop Pittsburgh's running attack, and the offense must move the ball consistently.

Coach Helton said the attitude of the team has suffered. "You cannot win if you do not bring your attitude to the park. Maybe I have put too much pressure on the team through high expectations."

Tickets are available by calling the UH ticket office at 713-743-9444.

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