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Wednesday, November 17, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 62

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When faced with trouble, UH's QB Jason McKinley sticks to his faith in God

UH Football

By Josh Gajewski
Daily Cougar Staff

When UH takes the field against Army in West Point, N.Y., on Saturday, quarterback Jason McKinley will be carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders.

If UH can come away with the victory, the Cougars might find themselves in a position to return to postseason play for the first time since 1996, when they faced Syracuse in the Liberty Bowl. A loss translates into a 6-5 record, an end to the football season and, quite possibly, the end of Kim Helton's reign as UH's head football coach.

Jason McKinley

But McKinley isn't phased one bit -- he is a man of faith.

"Football is huge, I know that," McKinley said. "But it means nothing compared to your relationship with God. I couldn't do anything without him and I just want to glorify him."

The business major from Westwood High School in Austin never fails to mention his faith after each and every game, regardless of the outcome.

"I've been blessed to have even made it this far," McKinley said. "If for some reason I stop playing tomorrow, I'd thank God that I've been able to do so much."

After being redshirted his freshman year, McKinley earned the starting job for good when he threw for 310 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Minnesota in 1997.

Since then, he has shared UH's Outstanding Player Award with running back Ketric Sanford in 1998 and has been named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week twice, the second one coming this past week after throwing for 203 yards and a touchdown in UH's 20-7 win over Louisiana State University.

"He's handled the pressure of being a quarterback extremely well, more than anything else," Helton said. "He plays great in the big arenas. He played great at Tennessee (1998), played great at LSU and played great against UCLA (1998). He's done a great job of holding up, despite some adverse situations."

Only a junior, McKinley will return for his final season in 2000 with what looks to be a formidable passing attack.

Wide receiver Jerrian James, who led UH in receptions a year ago, will return to complement current standout junior Orlando Iglesias after suffering a season-ending injury in preseason workouts.

The current backfield of seniors Sanford and Mike Green will be absent from next year's squad, paving the way for what looks to be a wide-open passing attack.

But for now, the focus is on Army. Possible snow flurries are in the forecast, and the Cadets enter the game ranked second in the nation in rushing. The Cougar defense enters as the country's 14th best run defense.

"The only thing we can control is beating Army," McKinley said. "Turnovers will be the key and they run the ball a lot, so we're not going to get too many opportunities on offense.

"We want to go out a winner," McKinley added. "We've had two tough years back to back and that's brought us closer together. We're so close right now (to a possible bowl appearance). We're not going to let anybody take it away from us."

And it's tough to argue that point with McKinley -- he will always stick to his beliefs.
 

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