Wednesday, August 7, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 162


 
 









 

New players must help the team

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
cast."

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 kickers.

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.
 
 
 
 
 

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