Cougars sharpen claws
for Saturday's slaughter
By Ed De La Garza
Daily Cougar Staff
The scrimmages are over and it's finally
time to prepare for Saturday's opener against Rice.
UH head coach Dana Dimel looks to have
his players ready to avenge an opening game overtime loss last
"We have a great month of September coming
up for our football team," Dimel said. "It's really increased the
excitement around the program, it's increased
the fans' level of attention … but our main focus is on the Rice
Dimel and his coaching staff held four
scrimmages in an attempt to cut down on the number of unforced errors and
turnovers -- a problem during the 2001
season. It was such a huge problem that Conference USA officials were
brought in to officiate one of the mock
Walter Coreas/The Daily
Cougar head football coach
Dana Dimel addresses the media at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
The Cougars play Rice Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
"They thought it was very much a well-executed
scrimmage," Dimel said. "We didn't have any holding penalties
inside, we had very few procedure penalties
-- and those are the big things."
But keeping turnovers and penalties wasn't
the only project staring at the Cougars.
Kelly Robertson quickly emerged as the
top quarterback, impressing Dimel and his staff with his quick grasp of
offensive scheme. Knowing who the starter's
going to be is especially important to the team as it begins the
post-Jason McKinley era.
And this season, Dimel will make sure to
put his mark on the program -- especially on the offensive side of the
One of the changes he made was making
the offensive scheme simpler.
"The biggest mistake we made last year
in the system is that I stayed completely out of the offensive play calling
and completely out of any input that went
on offensively," Dimel said. "This program right now can't afford for more
to do that. We came in and put in a new
Junior Joffrey Reynolds will regain his
position as the starting rusher, but senior Leif Penn will probably get
many touches. Reynolds returns to the
team after going through an injury-plagued 2000 season.
Reynolds' determination during practices
to keep running hit after hit will serve the Cougars well as they try to
establish a solid ground attack. It may
not be a smash-mouth team, but UH will use the running game to open up
"We're going to have a good mixture of
run and pass," Dimel said. "We're not going to be heavily skewed one way
or the other, but we are going to have
to run the football with more success."
But just like last season, the first few
games are crucial to the overall success of the Cougars.
The loss to Rice last season was followed
by a wrenching 28-13 defeat at Louisiana State -- a loss that exemplified
the 2000 season. A series of miscues put
UH in an 0-2 hole. UH squeaked past Army the following week, but a
48-0 drubbing at Texas paved the way to
a 3-8 season.
"The biggest thing is to gain some early
confidence and to really start believing in each other," Dimel said. "I
they all look around and they know the