Kevin Sumlin and Case Keenum, arguably the two most important names in the Houston Cougars' near-perfect 2011 run, are gone, yet Houston will return to Spring practice trying to keep the momentum of a program-defining year going.
The Houston Chronicle spotlights the deep race to replace Keenum, who set pretty much most every school record in passing and scoring, as well as a few national ones, too (note: "a few" means eight). Luckily there are five possible replacements in sophomore David Piland, senior Crawford Jones, redshirt freshman Bram Kohlhausen, sophomore Aaron Johnson and junior Drew Hollingshead. And a sixth QB will join the battle when true freshman Rex Dausin is on campus this fall.
The Chronicle gives Piland the early edge based solely on the experience he gained backing up Keenum:
If you're scoring at home, Piland has the lead going into spring. He has the most game experience as a starting quarterback among the group (he started eight games for an injured Keenum in 2010), and UH appeared comfortable enough with what he showed to allow him to split second-team repetitions in practice all last season with now-graduated backup Cotton Turner, even though Piland was redshirting and didn't see the field.
As for new head coach Tony Levine, a former Cougar assistant under the departed Sumlin, he's not ruling out Jones, who up until this season has mainly spent time as a holder on special teams:
"Say what you want - a lot of people think (being a holder) is an easy job," Levine said. "He runs out there in some key situations and is catching the snap, getting laces out in less than four-tenths of a second for Matt Hogan to make all his kicks. That tells me about his mental makeup. He's a very confident young man. He's got a great arm. He's been in this system now for four years. He's very accurate. So I'm excited to see what he does this spring."
That's Tony Levine, former special teams coach, mind you.
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