Thursday, November 15, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 61



UAB victory could mean a bowl

By Tom Carpenter
Daily Cougar Staff

Who would have thought the UH seniors would go into the final home game of their careers looking for the team's first win of the season? But that will be the case when the Cougars take the field against Alabama-Birmingham at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The Blazers are one win away from becoming bowl eligible as they visit Houston for the first time. UAB is coming off a solid win against Texas Christian, a team that pounded the Cougars 34-17.

UAB boasts one of the top defenses in the nation. The Blazers live or die by the play of "The Steel Shield" defense.

The Blazers' rush defense ranks No. 1 in the nation and No. 4 in total defense.

"We have a big task ahead of us," Cougar head coach Dana Dimel said. "But I think we're going to go out and have an outstanding offensive performance. I just feel good about our team. I think Kelly (Robertson) is going to lead us to a big game on Saturday."

Sophomore wide receiver Brandon Middleton

Max Lacayo/
The Daily Cougar

Conference opponents average a mere 52 yards per game rushing against the Blazers' defense.

Senior defensive end Bryan Thomas leads the Blazer defense with 11 sacks this season. His two sacks against TCU make him the Blazers' all-time sack leader.

Dimel praised the seniors on the team for persevering through a winless season.

"They have great practices, they work their tails off," Dimel said. "Their attitude has stayed great. All of them are trying to do things the right way, staying positive when times haven't been the best for them."

Senior cornerback Bachie McGruder reflected on his career at UH.

"Of course we're disappointed with our record. But as far as hanging it up and feeling sorry about it, no," McGruder said. "We're going to keep our character and keep our heads up. This is only going to make us stronger.

"Later on down the road in life we'll be able to see what we learned from this situation. It will build our character for sure, and the young guys won't experience another season like this.

"This will be the team that I'll remember, not for the season and the record, but for the team. I love each and every day I come out to practice and see these guys. I've loved the time I've been at UH, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. I'll be rooting for them next year. Go Coogs."

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