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Volume 68, Issue 46, Wednesday, October 30, 2002


Team still focused on playing in postseason

By Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

There's talk of a bowl game among the Houston players and coaches.

That talk may be a little premature for a team that's just 3-4, but for the first time in head coach Dana Dimel's three years at the helm, the Cougars still have a shot to make the postseason as November begins.

"I hope they realize (how exciting this is). I've tried to explain to them what a great feeling it is to play in November with something riding on it," Dimel said. "Our players haven't had that experience."

The team is coming off its first Conference USA victory in more than a year, 56-42 over Army on Oct. 19.

With the absence of junior center Al James who may be out for the season junior guard Rex Hadnot (pictured) will be called on to lead the Cougars' offensive line when the team travels to Memphis, Tenn., on Saturday.
Brian Viney/The Daily Cougar

Members of the football program believe they can win their next three games, which would set them up for a chance to play in a bowl game. All three of those games are against teams with losing records.

Saturday, the Cougars will travel to Memphis, Tenn., to face 2-6 Memphis. They come back home to play (now) 2-5 East Carolina on Nov. 9 before heading back on the road to face (now) 3-5 Cincinnati on Nov. 16.

"The possibility of a bowl game (is exciting)," junior starting offensive lineman Rex Hadnot said.

In order to reach that goal of a bowl game, UH will have to take care of business and play nearly perfect to finish the season. 

Furthermore, the Cougars will have to win a game outside of Houston, something they haven't been able to do since Oct. 21, 2000 (a 33-30 overtime win over Memphis). UH's only road win was against crosstown rival Rice on Aug. 31.

Houston is hardly the only conference team having trouble away from home. Among C-USA teams, only Texas Christian and Louisville have winning records on the road this year.

"Teams are having trouble finding ways to win on the road," Dimel said. "(Memphis') inability to win on the road has been a big problem for them."

Dimel refused to comment about injuries in his weekly press luncheon Tuesday. Senior Al James, the team's starting center and a candidate for several postseason awards, suffered an injury during practice earlier this week, and will be out for an undetermined period of time.

Hadnot, who plays next to James on the offensive line, said he did not know who would start at center Saturday. If James can't play this week, redshirt freshman Roy Swan will likely go in his place.

Junior linebacker Justin Davis is slated to return to practice this week and should see limited action against Memphis.

Houston has a tough journey ahead if the team is to make a bowl game. The Cougars can't make any more mistakes or let leads slip through their hands. It will take the entire team's best work of the year for Houston to reach its goal.

However the season finishes, the Cougars are excited to have something to play for as the season nears its conclusion.

"To be playing in November with something to play for has really turned a light on for a lot of the fellows on the team," Hadnot said. "It's an exciting time for us."

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