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Thursday, December 25, 2003



art

UP CLOSE:
Kolb has played
beyond his years


AT this POINT of the season, with a dozen games of experience, freshmen are no longer freshmen. University of Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb never played like one in the first place.



Houston's bowl history

The Cougars are 7-6-1 in bowl games, including victories over Auburn, Maryland and Nebraska.

Houston's last postseason appearance was a 30-17 loss to Syracuse in the 1996 Liberty Bowl, when the Cougars were coached by Kim Helton, the father of Hawaii assistant coach Tyson Helton.

Fifteen years ago today, Washington State beat Houston 24-22 in the Aloha Bowl.

Houston coach Art Briles was a wide receiver on two Cougars bowl teams. Houston tied N.C. State 31-31 in the 1974 Bluebonnet Bowl and beat Maryland 30-21 in the 1977 Cotton Bowl.



There is nothing about Kolb that resembles a rookie. Not his body (6-foot-3, 220 pounds), not his presence on the field or the way he commands the Cougars' offense. The Freshman All-American has drawn comparisons to fifth-year seniors for his poise under pressure and his leadership.

"He's had a great impact obviously looking at his stats. His whole demeanor in the huddle is just calm and relaxed," said senior Brandon Middleton, the Cougars' top wide receiver. "It's like the great ones like Joe Montana, especially in crucial situations. He has the same demeanor. He gives us confidence and helps us relax."

The confident Kolb is one of the major reasons for the program's turnaround. Houston has more victories (seven) this season than the last two years combined, when it went 5-18, including 0-11 in 2001. That the Cougars are playing in their first bowl game since 1996 is no surprise to Kolb.

"I think we believed in ourselves. I don't think other people did. But we've always expected to be at this point," he said. "I don't think you can ask for more than the Hawaii Bowl unless you're playing for the national championship. ... It doesn't get much better than what we're experiencing right now. I'm not sure we were really surprised, but we're having fun."

Kolb is having a ball in Houston coach Art Briles' offensive system. The foundation was poured for the 19-year-old in high school. The Cougars use the same spread offense that Briles employed at Stephenville High School (Texas), where he coached for 12 years before making the leap into collegiate coaching as an assistant coach at Texas Tech in 2000.

"That was probably the biggest help coming into college ball," said Kolb, who played at Stephenville after Briles' departure. "I didn't have to worry about learning the system. That helped me to just focus on the game."

Kolb (pronounced COBB) was the first true freshman to start at quarterback in school history. In his first game (a 48-14 win over Rice), Kolb threw two touchdown passes, ran for two TDs and completed 17 of 22 passes with no interceptions as Houston racked up 412 yards of total offense.

The C-USA Freshman of the Year had one of his finest games of the season against then-No. 15 Texas Christian. He totaled a whopping 578 yards of offense, throwing for 434 yards and rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown.

For the season, Kolb has completed 201 of 326 passes with 24 TDs and just four interceptions. His passer efficiency rating (154.6) ranks him 13th in the country. Kolb's touchdown to interception ratio (5.8:1) is third in the nation, just ahead of Boise State's Ryan Dinwiddie at the end of the regular season.

His efforts have earned him a bunch of awards that would make any teenager's head swell. College Football News named him the national offensive freshman of the year, while the Sporting News voted him a third-team All-American. But Kolb deflects the praise, saying it's the seniors who simplified the game and his responsibilities.

It is that attitude that Briles loves.

"His best thing is his personality and his intelligence. He's not a 'me' guy. He's a 'we' guy," Briles said. "He's handled all the accolades in the proper fashion and he's had great respect for his teammates.

"He understands his role, everybody else's roles and how to read and understand defenses."


art
Kevin Kolb


Grace Wen / Star-Bulletin


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How they fared...

Conference USA standings:

CONFERENCE OVERALL

W L Pct W L Pct Str
Southern Miss 8 0 1.000 9 3 .750 W6
TCU 7 1 .875 11 1 .917 W1
Memphis 5 3 .625 9 4 .692 W1
Louisville 5 3 .625 9 4 .692 L1
South Florida 5 3 .625 7 4 .636 W1
Houston 4 4 .500 7 5 .583 W1
UAB 4 4 .500 7 5 .583 L1
Tulane 3 5 .375 5 7 .417 W1
Cincinnati 2 6 .250 5 7 .417 L3
East Carolina 1 7 .125 1 11 .083 L5
Army 0 8 .000 0 13 .000 L13


Cougars in ’03

The University of Houston finished 7-5 this year. Here's a game-by-game summary of the season (visitor listed first):

Rice 14
Houston 48

True freshman Kevin Kolb completes 17 of 22 passes in his debut, including two TDs to Brandon Middleton in coach Art Briles' first game.

Houston 3
Michigan 50

After the Cougars hold off the Wolverines' offense early, Chris Perry, who ends up fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, rushes for 184 yards and two scores.

Houston 21
La.-Lafayette 14

Houston overcomes five turnovers and 18 penalties in heavy rain on the road. Freshman Jackie Battle runs for 84 yards and two TDs.

Houston 42
Mississippi St. 35

Kolb and Middleton hook up on the first play for a 74-yard TD, and four other Cougars reach the end zone -- including Vincent Marshall twice on passes from Kolb.

Houston 27
East Carolina 13

Middleton catches scoring passes of 30 and 65 yards from Kolb among his five grabs for 135 yards. Dustin Bell kicks two second-quarter field goals.

Houston 45
Tulane 42

Anthony Evans runs for 103 yards and two TDs and Kolb throws for three scores. Tulane outscores Houston 14-3 in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars' Joe Clay sacks J.P. Losman near midfield on the last play of the game and Houston improves to 3-0 in C-USA.

Memphis 45
Houston 14

The Tigers humble the Cougars, scoring the first 45 points as DeAngelo Williams rumbles for 125 of Memphis' 255 rushing yards.

Texas Christian 62
Houston 55

The teams combine for 1,466 yards of offense, with Middleton accounting for 232 and two TDs on six catches. But it's not enough to offset TCU's Robert Merrill, who carries 22 times for 204 yards. Vincent Marshall scores twice for the Cougars, and Kolb becomes the fourth QB in Division I history to rush for 100 yards and pass for 400 (144 and 434).

Southern Miss. 31
Houston 10

Five different players score for the Golden Eagles and ruin the Cougars' homecoming. Evans rushes for 116 yards, but Kolb is held to 158 passing.

Houston 34
Army 14

The Cougars become bowl-eligible as Middleton scores twice and Evans rushes for a career-high 140 yards.

Houston 45
Louisville 66

Evans out-does himself again with 146 yards, but the Cardinals pile up an astounding 779 yards, with Lionel Gates rushing for four scores.

UAB 28
Houston 56

Evans rushes for 165 yards and 3 TDs, and Kolb carries for two TDs. Middleton takes in five passes for 108 yards, including a 53-yard score.


Offense

Shade denotes starter (subject to change):


NO NAME HT. WT. CL

4 Kevin Kolb 6-3 220 Fr.

7 Shang Moore 6-1 200 Fr.

10 Matt Stanley 6-3 205 So.

12 Blade Bassler 6-4 220 So.

16 Bart Zavaletta 6-1 200 Sr.

6 Anthony Evans 5-10 215 So.

20 Mialon Collins 5-5 165 Fr.

22 Anthony Alridge 5-10 165 Fr.

24 Bobby Tillman 5-11 210 Jr.

25 Stephen Scott 5-10 195 Fr.

31 Charles Sapp 5-11 190 Sr.

33 Saleem Fernandez 5-7 182 Jr.

23 Carl Francis 5-10 245 Jr.

27 Jackie Battle 6-2 250 Fr.

32 Matt Schirmer 6-0 240 Jr.

36 John Teeters 5-9 220 So.

39 Travis Griffith 6-5 260 Jr.

1 Bennie Swain 6-2 175 Fr.

2 Harrison Arceneaux 6-2 190 Sr.

3 Chad McCullar (WR/PR) 5-10 170 So.

8 Brandon Middleton 5-11 185 Sr.

9 Leonard Gibson 6-1 205 Fr.

17 Vincent Marshall 5-7 170 So.

29 Perry McDaniel 5-8 170 Fr.

80 Josh Carethers 6-2 205 Fr.

83 Donnie Avery 5-11 175 Fr.

86 Mark Hopkins 6-4 208 Jr.

34 Chioke Lazarus 6-6 250 Sr.

81 Jacob Jones 6-1 225 So.

82 Stephen Cucci 6-4 270 Sr.

87 Jonathan Pritchett 6-4 245 Sr.

7 Dustin Bell 6-2 230 Jr.

14 Justin Laird 6-2 195 Fr.

47 Brock Johnston 5-10 170 Fr.

85 Nick Sharp (K/P) 6-0 187 Fr.

39 J.J. Wyatt (H) 5-11 210 Jr.

43 Jimmy McClary 6-6 225 Sr.

52 Taylor Cobb 6-1 315 Fr.

54 Drew Zaromsky 6-4 275 Fr.

57 Jeff Akeroyd 6-3 290 Fr.

61 Byron Alfred 6-2 280 Fr.

63 Willie Thomas III 6-3 360 Jr.

64 Cody Johnson 6-8 312 Fr.

65 Beau Tuft 6-5 290 Fr.

67 Jaron Barganier 6-0 310 Sr.

68 Brandon Evans (RG) 6-4 340 Sr.

69 James Hong 6-5 300 So.

70 David Douglas 6-3 335 So.

71 Roy Swan (LG) 6-2 350 So.

72 John McGilvray 6-5 285 So.

73 Dustin Dickinson 6-3 280 Fr.

74 Jason Wagner 6-5 290 Fr.

75 Phil Hawkins (LT) 6-5 312 Jr.

76 Rex Hadnot (C) 6-2 330 Sr.

77 Matt Mattox (RT) 6-4 295 Sr.


Defense

Shade denotes starter (subject to change):

NO NAME HT. WT. CL

13 Farouk Adelekan 6-2 275 Sr.

48 John Harrell 6-1 280 Fr.

57 Chris Roy 5-9 230 Fr.

62 Kade Lane (RT) 6-2 260 So.

79 Gerard Richard 6-3 300 So.

88 Kendrick Goss 6-4 270 Jr.

90 Joe Clay (LE) 6-1 260 Jr.

92 Carlos Garces 6-1 265 Fr.

93 Eddie McCray (RE) 6-3 231 Fr.

94 Matthew Bentley 6-2 280 So.

98 L.C. Kirkpatrick 6-2 275 Fr.

99 Marquay Love (LT) 6-0 300 Fr.

1 Wade Koehl 6-2 215 Fr.

33 Damien West (MLB) 6-2 245 Sr.

39 Andrew Reese 6-1 205 So.

40 Austin Griffith 6-2 200 Fr.

41 Trent Allen 6-1 220 Fr.

44 Lance Everson (OLB) 6-2 230 Jr.

45 Bryant Brown (OLB) 6-2 220 So.

47 Ji Yun 5-11 235 Sr.

51 Micah Kellum 6-4 200 Fr.

54 Gus Zavaletta 5-11 245 Sr.

55 Ashley Subingsubing 6-0 225 Jr.

2 Roland Cola (CB) 5-10 180 Sr.

3 Jermain Woodard (S) 6-0 215 Sr.

4 Roshawn Pope (KR) 5-10 190 So.

10 Willie Gaston 5-10 185 So.

14 Ricky Wilson (CB/KR) 5-10 180 Fr.

15 Courtney Sterling 5-7 170 So.

16 Courtney Brooks 6-3 220 Jr.

18 Will Gulley (S) 6-4 205 So.

21 Stanford Routt 6-1 190 Jr.

21 Gerard Price 5-9 170 Fr.

23 Byron Carter 5-10 185 Fr.

26 Marcus Ross 5-11 175 Fr.

31 Gerard Daniels 5-8 170 Jr.

34 Jonathan Fantroy 5-9 195 So.

37 Rocky Schwartz 5-11 180 Fr.

42 Corbin Mozisek 6-1 220 Sr.

38 Thomas Gafford 6-2 215 Jr.

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