New players must help
Cougar Sports Services
At last, the healing can begin. Yesterday,
28 players reported for football practice. These 28, newcomers to the team,
do not have memories of
an 11-loss season. They are not haunted
by nightmares in which UH cannot seem to find a way to win.
That new blood is vital, as vital as the
seven months of off-season work for returning players. The Cougars must
improve and find a way to win.
And these 28 players are going to be a
part of that improvement, or this football team will never get better.
This morning was the first scheduled practice
for 28 players, the freshmen who will make up an important part of the
Cougar football team.
They arrived yesterday, almost as eager
as their coaches, ready to get working on their first football season.
This is the time when they will get
acclimated to their surroundings and learn
the routine of college football.
"We've had a great off-season, and the
returning guys have built a foundation of leadership and unity," said UH
head football coach Dana Dimel.
"Because there is a solid foundation ...
a lot of these young players can come in and play for us right away because
there is a better supporting
Dimel has a history of redshirting most
of the freshmen in each class, though he maintains that this season, more
of these freshmen will play
than in the past.
The freshmen who were redshirted last year
will play an important role in this year's team, as well. Those players
have had to time to get used to
college, bulk up and learn the team.
The newcomers are spread evenly throughout
the team. There are 13 offensive players, 13 defensive players, and two
The best chance for players to make an
impact is in the trenches, where defensive linemen like Matthew Bentley,
L. C. Kirkpatrick, Gerard
Richard, and Josh Szepieniec will have
a chance to contribute immediately, at least off the bench. Defensive line
play was one of the weakest
parts of last year's squad.
Returning players are expected to report
Friday, and full-squad practices will begin Saturday. Two-a-day practices
will continue through August
24, after which the normal weekly practice
schedule will begin for the season.
The highlights of practice will come Aug.
14 and 17 when the team will hold brief scrimmages.
The Cougars will go into action for real
Aug. 31, when Houston will play Rice in the annual Bayou Bucket game.
The team needs to win, if only to erase
the memories of the worst season ever.