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Thursday, September 23, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 23

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Cougars begin C-USA play

By Anna Sivadasan
Daily Cougar Staff 

For the second consecutive season, the UH football team will be a part of history.

Last year, UH helped Army open its first game as a member of Conference USA. This season, the Cougars will welcome the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers to C-USA play Saturday at Legion Field.

UH makes its second trip in three weeks to Birmingham, but this time around, there is an added significance because both schools will open conference play.

"I think it will certainly be a game where both teams have a lot at stake," UH head coach Kim Helton said. "I expect it to be a very good football game."

The Blazers enter their conference opener looking for their first win of the season. UAB's two losses were on the road against Missouri and No. 8 Virginia Tech.

Last year, the Blazers finished with a 4-7 record. But according to Helton, UAB's record hasn't matched their talent -- especially defensively.

"They have sensational defensive football players," Helton said. "They're defensive team plays the game the way you like to see it played. They're fast, they hit hard, they cover you well and they've created a lot of turnovers."

UAB is tied with UH for the C-USA lead in forced turnovers with seven. Offensively, the Blazers have averaged 19 points in their two losses.


Tailback Ketric Sanford (7) believes the Cougars "must" win their first C-SUA game in Birmingham against UAB.

Will Cordray/The Daily Cougar

"They have not been as productive offensively as they would like to be," said Helton, "so some of the things the defense has done have gone unnoticed."

In addition to picking up its first conference win, UH will also be attempting to snap a six-game losing streak in the state of Alabama that dates back to 1960.

"Since I've been here, we've been to Alabama twice, and both times we've come back with a loss," UH tailback Ketric Sanford said. "We need to come back with a victory (Saturday) because it is a conference game."

While the Cougars shutout Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend, the Blazers had an off week to prepare for UH.

"Some people say you lose your rhythm with a layoff, so I hope they lost their rhythm and can't dance," Helton said. "The real advantage with an open date is you have extra time to prepare. It helps your kids get a break from the physical pounding that goes into playing Division I football."

Saturday's game will be the first-ever meeting between the Blazers and Cougars. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game can be seen on Channel 55.
 

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