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Volume 68, Issue 117, Monday, March 24, 2003

Sports

Players continue to raise intensity level

Cougar Sports Services

In two short weeks, football head coach Art Briles will preside over his teamis first real test: the annual Red-White Game. The April 5 contest marks the end of spring practice for the Cougars and gives Briles and his staff a good idea of how the players respond to real-game situations.



Football head coach Art Briles held a scrimmage for the Cougars on Saturday morning. There are only two weeks left until the annual Red-White Game.

Jim McCormick/The Daily Cougar

But until then, the first-year coach is using the spring to gauge his teamis intensity. A rainy Saturday morning might not have been the best conditions for a scrimmage, but for a team looking to build on last seasonis 5-7 record, less-than-perfect conditions may have been just what they needed to focus on the task at hand.

"We had good intensity (and) great effort," Briles said. "Schematically, weire coming along much better.

It was just a scrimmage, but the offense may have responded a little better to the weather. Sophomore running back Anthony Evans rushed for two touchdowns and ran through the first defensive unit for 23 yards. Junior running back Carl Francis also ran for a touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball, senior Ryan Huffman, sophomores Matthew Bentley and Kade Lane continued to show signs that last seasonis play wasnit an aberration.

The Cougars have six more practices: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, April 1 and 3. After the intra-squad game, the team is off until the summer. The players arenit lining up against players in different uniforms ? and wonit be until the 2003 season kicks off ? but Briles said his Cougar squad is close to where it should be.

"We have in about 65 percent of our offense," he said. "Defensively, weire about at the same pace. The thing that Iim impressed with is our retention level is really coming together. We understand what weire doing. So, Iid say weire at least to where Iid expected, or maybe even ahead."

Briles was hired in December to replace former head coach Dana Dimel. While the 2002 Cougars came close to earning a bowl bid, it was coming off an 0-11 2001 season and was 8-26 under Dimel. With just two winning seasons in the last 12 years, Athletics Director Dave Maggard gave Briles the reins of a team he once played for. Briles played under UH legend Bill Yeoman.

Briles, the first former Cougar to come back and lead the team, will be called on not just to win games or make it to a bowl game. He is also charged with the task of bringing back disgruntled fans who havenit seen the program ranked in more than a decade, and to ease some of the financial strains placed on Athletics because of a $10.8 million deficit.

Tuesdayis practice begins at 4 p.m.

 Send comments to dcsports@mail.uh.edu

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