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Volume 68, Issue 62, Wednesday, November 20, 2002


Defense needs to stop disappearing

By Christian Schmidt
The Daily Cougar

What has happened to the UH defense?

Itis a question that has plagued the Cougars for the second half of the season. Are the players tired from a long season? Has something changed in the schemes the defense is running or in the offensive schemes running against it?

At his weekly press luncheon, head coach Dana Dimel was at a loss to explain why his defense has given up an average of 43 points a game over the past five games, up from 27.2 points per game for the first five games of the year.

"The jury is still out. We still have two more football games, and our defense has to respond and play better in those last two games," Dimel said. "What weive done to try to change (the defensive struggles) is lighten the practices up over the last three weeks."

Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

Freshman defensive Kade Lane, senior defensive lineman Bryan Hill and the rest of the Cougars were torched for 44 points against Cincinnati. Head coach Dana Dimel continues to stress the need to play better defense.

Injuries might be one contributing factor to the defensive decline, as several starters have missed time recently because of injuries.

Against Cincinnati, defensive ends Joe Clay, a sophomore, and Quantaa Jackson, a senior, were out with injuries. Junior defensive end Ryan Huffman was away for personal reasons.

Despite the defenseis struggles, the offense has increased its output. In the first five games of the season, UH averaged 20.2 points per game. In the last five, itis racked up 35.6 points per game.

The offenseis resurgence is easier to explain. Over the last five weeks, the Cougars have faced less talented defenses, ones that have given up more points all year long.

Against East Carolina and Army, Houston scored 48 and 56 points respectively against weak opponents. The offense has also (with the exception of the Cincinnati game) rode the broad shoulders of running back Joffrey Reynolds, as the senior, who rushed for more than 100 yards in four consecutive games.

Reynolds rushed for 843 yards over the past five games, 63 percent of his season total.

Dimel briefly discussed the Cincinnati game, a 47-14 loss for the Cougars.

"Iim very disappointed in our performance on all levels," Dimel said. "It was not a very good performance from our football team."

Dimel stressed his teamis need to look forward to put the defeats of the past two weeks behind it.

More young players may be getting a chance to play over the next two weeks in an effort to get them more experience.

Sophomore backup running back Cody Thibodeaux may see more time in the lineup. He has been a contributor on special teams this year.

Freshman defensive tackle Gerard Richard will get more time in a backup role, Dimel said.

The team is practicing this week in preparation for South Florida. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

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