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Volume 70, Issue 23, Thursday, September 23, 2004

Sports
 

Cougars ready despite a short prep week

UH hopes to keep momentum from Army

By Dante Eglin
The Daily Cougar

After winning their conference opener against Army last week, the Houston Cougars will host the Miami Hurricanes at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Reliant Stadium. ESPN's College GameDay crew will cover the nationally televised game.

In their 35-21 victory over Army, the Cougars won their first conference game of the season. Miami, ranked No. 4 in both The Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls, posted a 48-0 shutout of Louisiana Tech last week at the Orange Bowl.

Tonight's game is Miami's first road game of the season and its first visit to the Lone Star State since its 45-14 defeat of Baylor in Waco in 1997. 

Saturday, UH totaled 94 offensive plays for 634 total yards, including 369 rushing yards, and compiled 32 first downs against Army. The Cougars go from facing a Black Knight defense ranked last in Division I-A in team total defense, to the nation's No. 2 team in the same category with the Hurricanes allowing only 174.0 yards per game.

Both head coaches expressed some disdain over the Thursday game but feel their teams will be prepared.

"We have to squeeze a lot of work into a short period of time. Ideally I would like to have every game on Saturday, but that is not the case anymore with TV. It is disruptive to our routine, but the better we handle the disruptions, the better our football team will be," Miami head coach Larry Coker said at his team's press conference Tuesday.

"The University of Houston is a team with a lot of tradition, especially in the Bill Yeoman era that most of us probably remember," Coker said. "(They) spread the field and like to run the football. They have a lot of speed. With us playing on the road we have to be road warriors."

Houston head coach Art Briles echoed Coker's scheduling opinion at practice Tuesday.

"We would have liked it a little bit more if we had had an afternoon game on Saturday, and we could have cleaned up everything from that game (Army)," Briles said. "That's the schedule we are dealt with, so it's the way we'll deal with it."

Despite the quick turnaround, Briles is confident his team will be ready to compete tonight.

"It's time. It's got to happen, and we're there. The thing about sports, and players and coaches alike, this is what you're dealt with so you deal with it," Briles asserted at Houston's weekly press conference earlier Tuesday. "We're going to be ready. When we line up on Thursday night, we'll be on the field ready to win the football game."

Houston hopes to carry the momentum of some impressive performances against Army into tonight's game.

Junior running back Anthony Evans tallied up a career high 282 yards rushing and 34 carries to earn Conference USA Player of the Week honors. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Kolb went 20 for 34 with 278 yards passing and junior Vincent Marshall snagged nine receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Seniors Joe Clay, Lance Everson, and Stanford Routt anchored the Cougar defense, holding Army to 103 passing yards. Clay picked up two sacks and nine tackles, while Everson and Routt had ten and nine tackles, respectively.

Sophmore defensive back Devin Hester has been a tropical storm of his own for the Hurricanes on special teams. The converted wide receiver blocked a field goal against Florida State that helped Miami force the game into overtime, and took two punt returns for touchdowns, the first for 51 yards and the second for 92 yards.

In Miami and Oklahoma, UH will have faced off against teams that played in the National Championship game from the each of the last three seasons. OU lost to LSU in the 2003 Sugar Bowl, while Miami lost to Ohio State in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl and beat Nebraska in the 2001 Rose Bowl.
 

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