University of Houston stumbles in home opener

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HOUSTON, TX – UTSA defeated Houston 27-7 in the opening game at brand new TDECU Stadium on Friday, August 29. The Cougars are 1-1 all-time versus the Roadrunners. UH falls 35-32-1 all-time in season openers and 39-30 in all-time home openers.

The announced crowd of 40,755 set a new Houston record for a home crowd in a game played on campus and a season home opener. Houston suffered just their second loss in their last nine home openers and were defeated for just the second time in the last seven overall season openers.

Ryan Jackson’s fourth quarter touchdown kept UH’s streak of 172 straight games of scoring alive dating back to 2000. Cougars have now scored in 113 straight home contests going back to 1994. It, also, marked the first points the Cougars have scored in their new stadium.

HOUSTON HEAD COACH TONY LEVINE

Opening statement

“Well certainly I’m very disappointed. I am very thankful to the students that came out tonight, our fans, our alumni. It was a good atmosphere throughout in terms of the energy in the stadium and the stands, but for us certainly disappointing in terms of the outcome.  I give UTSA credit. They out coached us, they out played us, they out executed us and we have some work to do. We have won some games here recently winning the turnover margin and in my count we turned it over seven times, six on paper, and the seventh with the botched punt snap that gave them the ball inside the ten yard line and we only got one turnover on them which resulted in a turnover on our end on the very next snap. We had two fumbles from our center to the quarterback and punter, one on offense and one on the punt team, and I just told our student athletes that we can be a good football team but it doesn’t matter who we play if we turn it over seven times and we only get one; we won’t beat anybody doing that.”

 

“How we come back: it will tell a lot about our team, about our coaches, about our staff and certainly about our student athletes. It’s a long season we have got eleven more guaranteed opportunities and I told (the team) we have a quick turnaround in terms of two in the next twelve days once they wake up tomorrow. We’ll get back to work and get ready for Grambling, and correct the mistakes and look for improvement in our next opportunity.”

 

On O’Korn’s game

“UTSA’s defensive front really controlled the line of scrimmage and they got into our backfield early. They did a nice job controlling our running game and we ended up getting a little bit one dimensional for two reasons: 1. We fell behind with the score and 2. We were not having the success running the football so they were able to get their pass rush and get to John (O’Korn) and it felt like we could never get into a rhythm with our passing game either.

 

On the high expectations for the team

“I just told our student athletes that everybody right now that was at this game is walking down Cullen Boulevard going to their vehicles thinking what just happened. We had all these men on pre-season watch lists and we have some experience and I just told them that tonight doesn’t have to have a negative effect in terms of our mindset of whether we are going to be a good football team this year. We have the ingredients to be a good football team this year. Tonight, going back to the game specifically and what I’ve talked about for a couple years now is football, turning it over seven times and only getting one you are not going to win a football game. I don’t think our young men and our staff or coaches were reading the press clippings and not having respect for UTSA. Again we went toe-to-toe with them and they went toe-to-toe with us last year for 45 minutes and we created some turnovers in the fourth quarter and we ended up beating them by over 30 points but we knew a lot about their program and again I know they have familiarity with ours and they were the better team tonight.”

 

On build-up to game and re-grouping

“Well, I think for us, it shouldn’t. And I think you pose an interesting question. One thing we’ve done in our program, and obviously weren’t successful at this week, is trying to go one game at a time and be 1-0 at the end of each week. Really, within our program, after the final regular season game, we’ll look back at our entire body of work and judge it at that point.”

 

“And again, I’m not going to sugarcoat things, it’s a very disappointing start to our season. UTSA came in expecting to win, and we came in expecting to win, and again I give them credit. Were going to bounce back, were going to re-group, were going to correct our mistakes and get ready to play Grambling next Saturday night.”

 

On how this may affect the rest of the season

“Well, it goes back to a little bit of what I said a few minutes ago about what we just talked about in the locker room. This game doesn’t have to define this season, and it doesn’t have to define this team. We can come out at any point and any game this season, regardless of whom our opponent is and we can get seven turnovers and only turn it over one time. We’ll have a much different locker room after the game and a much different mood in this press conference. I think there’s been some consistency in our program over the course of time and I think our expectations are high.”

 

“When you look at our number one goal in our program, its to compete for a conference championship and right now as I sit here, we know where we are at this moment, we know what we have to correct and we have a conference game coming up in a few weeks. We know we have some things we need to get corrected, the things we had errors on tonight starting this week.”

 

On O’Korn/quarterback situation

“Yes, were going to stick with John.”

 

On offensive woes

“I think a number of things attributed to it. The turnovers were big, I felt that their defensive line and defense deserve a lot of credit, they controlled the line of scrimmage, and they took away our running game. We were playing from behind pretty early in the game, and we became one-dimensional, never got into a rhythm and I think there’s no more to be said about that.”

 

On possible changes To offensive line

“I’m not sure at this point, we’ll go back and look at the film, see how our student athletes played up front, that will be across the board. If we feel like there need to be any personnel changes, we’ll watch the film, talk as a staff, and implement any changes this weekend.”

 

 

HOUSTON SENIOR DEFENSIVE TACKLE JOEY MBU
On if the build up and anticipation of the stadium opening took away from mind set

“I don’t think it was that, I think they had a great game plan. They found our weaknesses and they attacked.”


On offense not being able to move the ball and defense having to go on more frequently

“It’s part of our job. They obviously have to score and we have to stop them.”


On atmosphere of the locker room after the game

“Of course we’re frustrated but we are going to bounce back.”


On if the team is still able to compete for conference title

“I think we are a great team, we had some miss cues. It makes it harder to win. We have to learn from our mistakes and bounce back from them.”


On what players were saying to each other on sidelines

“We can’t get mad, we have to keep going and stay in a good mind set.”

 

 

HOUSTON JUNIOR RUNNING BACK KENNETH FARROW
On what UTSA did to keep offense from getting into rhythm

“They went out there they had a great game plan and they played well. We weren’t clicking. We didn’t play well tonight. We have to go out there tomorrow look at the film, see what we did wrong and correct it.”


On the run game not going

“It was a little different. Like I said, as a whole, we weren’t clicking. I felt we didn’t successfully run plays the first two quarters. We have to get in the film room and see what was the problems and correct it.”


On how will turn around for next week

“It’s difficult for everybody, especially coming out the first week to a new stadium with all the expectations it’s a distraction and we can’t let it affect this season. Make sure we go out next week and we are focused and make sure we correct our mistakes.”


On what he tells the younger teammates as a captain after the loss

“I told them we take it week by week, you can’t let the stuff from the first week carry over to the next week or we’ll continue to have weeks like this. We’ve got to put all this stuff behind us. Tomorrow is 0-0 we have to take it like that. ”


On how much stadium opening took away from UTSA game plan

“There was none of it. Everyone was focused. We just went out there and I felt like we didn’t play up to the standers that we are capable of playing. We have to see what mistakes we made.”


On mood on the sidelines

“There wasn’t a time when we were super frustrated. The last game we played in we were down 24-0 and we scored 24 points in one quarter. We just felt like we need one play to make it click unfortunately it didn’t happen. We got to look at what we did wrong and fix it”


On if the team was overconfident

“No I don’t think so. I think we just didn’t play good. We’ve got to put everything tonight behind us.”


On if UTSA is a better team than Houston thought they were

“Tonight they were. They won. I don’t think anybody over looked them. They came out and played well, credit to them they played a good game.”

 

 

UTSA HEAD COACH LARRY COKER

On how UTSA played

“After tonight, we know we are going to have a good team with good talent.  The big thing is Houston lead the nation in turnover margin last year and we wanted to win the turnover battle tonight.  We dominated, with six turnovers, the most we’ve ever gotten which makes a huge difference in the game.  I would really compliment our defensive front, in fact the entire defense, but the defensive front did a phenomenal job pressuring the quarterback, as well as our staff; our defensive staff and offensive staff are spectacular. We were a little dysfunctional on the offense in the first half but we ran the ball well in the second half.  We realized in the second half that we need to use the clock and I think we did a pretty good job of that.”

 

On if this was the biggest win in program history

“I think it is.  I don’t know one that’s bigger.  Everyone has big wins but this being a good Houston team, close to home, and we have 15 players from this city on our team, it feels good to have this win.”

 

On day leading up to the game

“In the first game, you really don’t know. We know that we need to play. We need to find out about ourselves and discover some things about ourselves.  We discovered some weaknesses in our offensive system. I don’t know if I felt good or bad. I feel like we won a football game but again, I knew we needed to take care of our business and as it turned out we played pretty well.”

 

On Coach Neathery’s game plan

“Well, Houston has got a lot of speed, good receivers. We really played well in the secondary also. The pressure was on the quarterback. It was frustrating, he was on his back quite a bit, moving around quite a bit before we put the pressure on him. Coach Neathery had a great game plan and some nice nickel packages that we put in. We’re always concerned about the guys we had. I had 3 of my former coaches coach here. I was concerned about them knowing too much. Sometimes I can only guess that you think you know too much. The game plan was good. We played a lot of people on defense especially.”

 

On Tucker’s performance

“I think Tucker did a nice job. He managed the game well and made some plays. You haven’t seen his best performance because he’s got better football than what you’ve seen. He’s going to be special when he gets older. We got to help him out and I think our receivers did some and I think the running ball helps and defense helps.”

 

On him saying he might go with more than one quarterback but staying with Tucker

“The thing that’s frustrating on offense is we didn’t really establish anything. A little of this, a little of that, a punt. I felt he needed to establish himself more. He’s our quarterback. We don’t have an easy road, we turnaround Thursday night and play at home. I think he needed to be in it and work and I think the players responded to that.”

 

On the game being on national TV and how it felt winning

“Good. Very good obviously. It’s amazing where we are. Three years ago we barely had a team and we started out with three coaches. Now, we’re in the fourth season playing in Division 1 Football against a team like Houston at home and winning. Even last year, with wins over North Texas and Tulane so I ask you, is this our biggest win so far: I think it is. There’s more big ones to come, hopefully.”

 

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