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Volume 72, Issue 28, Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sports

UH run-and-shoot guru recalls glory days, tough loss

by MARK SUAREZ
THE DAILY COUGAR

There are certain moments in a football season that can give fans a sense of nostalgia when sitting on the cool bleachers at a college stadium. The hot 4-0 start by the 2006 Cougars is certainly drawing comparisons to the last great run in UH football history, which occurred in 1990. 

That year, former UH quarterback David Klingler's gun-slinging mentality led the Cougars to an 8-0 start and a No. 3 Associated Press ranking. Klingler put up monster numbers in his UH career while leading an assault on the NCAA record books.

Houston saw their dreams of an undefeated season get dashed when they fell on the road 45-24 to Texas, however. 

The current Cougars may find themselves in the same predicament Saturday as they look to continue their undefeated season at the Orange Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes, who are not ranked but carry a reputation of being a perennial national powerhouse. 

Having been in a similar situation, Klingler said the Cougars can win this game if they just focus on the intangibles. 

"Controlling their emotions, that will be key," Klingler said. "And they're going to have to come out and play well early, establish themselves early. 

"They can play with Miami; they did it two years ago in the first half, they stuck with Miami. They just have to go out and do it for 60 minutes."

The loss at Texas in 1990 proved to be the only blemish on Houston's 10-1 season. Klingler said he still feels that loss to this day. 

"The one memory that sticks out to me is losing to Texas in that 1990 season," Klingler said. "We had beaten them four out of five years when I was there and that was my only loss to Texas, and it was a big one. 

"So now the Cougars are my second-favorite team and whoever is playing Texas is my first favorite team." 

A gridiron clash between the 2006 and 1990 Cougars would certainly create sparks on the field and a possible scoreboard meltdown.

The 1990 squad, under the guidance of former UH coach John Jenkins, ran a potent run-and-shoot offense that racked up 45 points per game. Klingler had the best game of his career that year when he lit up Eastern Washington for 11 touchdowns passes in an 84-21 Houston blowout that was regarded by some as a display of poor sportsmanship and stat-padding on Jenkins' part. 

UH head coach Art Briles currently implements the spread offense, which has propelled senior quarterback Kevin Kolb to more than 10,000 yards of total offense for his UH career.

At first glance, these offenses may appear to be similar with their five wide-out sets and big-play potential, but Klingler views them as two different beasts. 

"The similarities are there. Both spread out offenses, (but) that's about where the similarities end," Klingler said. "While they're putting up numbers, this is much more of a ball-control offense. You see this offense going on six-, seven- and eight-minute drives, something I don't think we did ever. 

"I remember playing (Texas) A&M and there was two minutes left to go in the game (with the ball) on our own five-yard line. And I remember being in the huddle telling the guys, ‘Listen guys, we're going to have to do something we've never done before -- not to score, but we have to drag this thing out for two minutes.'" 

With his playing days behind him, Klingler is still involved with UH. He can be heard over the airwaves calling UH games on the Houston ISP radio network, and he said he's never at a loss for words when talking about the Cougars.

"The thing I really like is you get to do color for a good team," Klingler said. "When you're struggling, boy, it's hard to find something good to talk about. With this team it's not hard to find good things to talk about."

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