Cougar Notebook: Players of the Game

Cougar Notebook: Players of the Game
October 30, 2012, 3:15 pm
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Houston's Hayden named Defensive Player of Week

Houston, TX, USA; Houston Cougars wide receiver Larry McDuffey (81) attempts to make a reception as Texas El Paso Miners defensive back DeShawn Grayson (2) defends second half at Robertson Stadium.

(Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE)

Houston head doach Tony Levine announced the Players of the Game in the team's 45-35 win over UTEP on Saturday:

Offensive: WR Larry McDuffey

Defensive: CB D.J. Hayden (named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week)

Special Teams: Punter Richie Leone, WR Mark Roberts (in his first game back in over a month, he blocked a field goal on his first play of the game)

Levine's opening statement:

“When you look back at the game Saturday, our goal was to start fast. I think it was obvious that we accomplished that. The score going into halftime was 35-7, and what we talked about at halftime was coming out fast and setting the tone for the third quarter. We came out and scored a quick ten points, then I was not happy with the remainder of the game. Our medical staff made the decision after the first series in the second half that Charles Sims suffered a leg injury and he needed to come out of the game. I think most thought that we took out Charles because of the score but that was not the case."

Other notes

In the two games the Cougars have played outside the city of Houston, they have turned the ball over 15 times.

"That is unacceptable, and it makes it very difficult to win games when you do that to yourself," Levine said.

Senior cornerback Hayden had two interceptions in Saturday’s win against UTEP, one of which he returned for a 97-yard touchdown. He was named C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Week.

“D.J. is a tremendous young man and is getting better as the season goes on,” Levine said. “I talk about this it seems like every week, but he is getting better every week on the little things. He has only been in our program for two years because he is a junior college transfer. It speaks volumes of the kind of person he is doing things off the field. He has two interceptions for touchdowns in the last two games. He’s made a lot of great plays, and a lot of offenses aren’t going after him. Louisiana Tech has one of the better receivers in the country, who is among the top nationally in statistics and when we put D.J. on him, he had four catches for 36 yards. He was able to create plays that helped us on Saturday. They have the ball in the redzone and instead of it being a 21-14 game, he gets the pick and turns it into a 28-7 game.”

Progression of QB Piland and the offense:

“David Piland is getting better each week," Levine said. "I think our offense continues to grow with the help of our coaching staff. They have created a lot of plays with misdirection and thinking outside the box as far as play calling. Coach [Travis] Bush has done a great job of keeping defenses off-balance with his different formations. Charles Sims’ first touchdown against UTEP was the same play against North Texas but in a different formation. I like the rhythm we are getting into right now. It’s getting harder for other defenses to just focus on Charles Sims because we have other guys stepping up to make plays. Guys like Larry McDuffey, Deontay Greenberry and Daniel Spencer are really playing well. I feel as though each week the offense is getting better.”

Injury update:

Monday's practice was 45 minute in helmets only. Tuesday's practice was an hour and 50 minutes in full pads -- the only day in full pads.

RB Charles Sims and DL Joey Mbu did not practice on Monday and are questionable for Tuesday. Levine said they will be probabable at the latest for Wednesday's practice and probable for the game. 

RB Braxton Wellford suffered a leg injury on UTEP's first kickoff. He is doubtful for the game this week.

WR Isaiah Sweeney and DL Lloyd Allen practiced Monday. Levine said they will know more about each of them after Tuesday's practice.