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Volume 68, Issue 52, Wednesday, November 6, 2002


Dimel pushes Bell; C-Rob to miss ECU

By Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

A day after it was announced that UH sophomore kicker Dustin Bell had been named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, given to the nation's top collegiate place kicker, head coach Dana Dimel called out Bell at his weekly media luncheon.

"I just didn't think (Bell) performed very well," Dimel said. "We are going to put Justin Laird in the rotation with him this week to increase the competition and try to make Dustin perform better."

Sophomore kicker Dustin Bell, who was named a finalist Monday for the Lou Groza Award (given to the nation's best collegiate kicker), was criticized by head coach Dana Dimel. Dimel said he would use freshman Justin Laird to push Bell the rest of the season.
Allen Cernosek/The Daily Cougar

Dimel said Bell has not been doing a great job of placing his kickoffs to help the coverage. Bell also missed an extra point in the Memphis game. Freshman kicker Justin Laird will probably play this weekend.

For the season, Bell is 8-of-9 on field goals, his only miss coming on a 54-yard attempt against Texas Christian which was less than a yard wide.

He was named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 16 after connecting on field goals of 44, 37 and 41 yards during UH's 36-17 win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 14.

The rest of the team

Houston is 4-4 (2-3 in C-USA) and needs just two wins in its last four games to reach a bowl game for the first time since 1996. A win against Memphis on Saturday was the first Cougar victory outside the city of Houston in two years.

"It was important for us to go get a road victory," Dimel said. "A lot of football players made some big plays in that game. That's very encouraging for a coach."

Dimel's team doesn't necessarily need another road win to accomplish its goal of reaching the postseason. The Cougars have three home contests remaining, including Saturday's Homecoming showdown against 2-5 East Carolina (2-1 in C-USA).

The Cougars have fought hard in their last two games, both of which went down to the wire. In the Memphis game, the Cougars needed a last-second interception to seal the 26-21 victory.

"The margin for error is so slim with such parity in Conference USA," Dimel said.

Dimel said his team isn't looking ahead to the postseason too much, instead keeping its focus on what it has to do to win this weekend's game. If Houston can get a win this weekend, anything is possible in the last three weeks.

"A victory this week gives us a great opportunity to go into November with some things riding on the stretch run," Dimel said.

The Cougars are still emphasizing running the ball on offense and stopping the run on defense. An injury to senior running back Chris Robertson will keep him out of action Saturday, meaning starting senior Joffrey Reynolds will be called on to carry the load on offense, possibly carrying the ball as many as 40 times.

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Roy Swan made his first start of the year against Memphis, taking over for senior Rex Hadnot, who moved to center in place of the injured Al James.

James will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. Dimel said Swan's performance was acceptable, though he expects improvement over the next few weeks.

"(Swan's) performance was very solid for a first start," Dimel said.

Senior safety Hanik Milligan may have said it best when asked what he and his teammates need to do to keep the win streak alive.

"We need to put it to ourselves to execute and cut down on turnovers," Milligan said.

Right now, everything is simple. As Dimel said, he's just taking things one practice at a time, one game at a time, one win at a time. If the Cougars can keep that focus, things should take care of themselves.

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