The Cougars concluded training camp Saturday with their second scrimmage at the Carl Lewis International Complex.
Eleven days remain until the season opener against UCLA on Sept. 3 at Robertson Stadium.
With two weeks of preparation UH is focusing on bringing a well-balanced attack on both sides of the ball.
“For us to be the team we want to be, we’ve got to improve defensively,” head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We understand the scheme a lot more, we’ve been able to bring in some new players and it will be a matter of how quick they can adapt and play within in the system.
“I like where we’re headed, I like where we are right now as far as where were at this time last year. I would look for us to be much improved.”
Juniors Chevy Bennett and D.J. Hayden were expected to be the starters at cornerback. The emergence of sophomore Zach McMillian has complicated the defensive back situation, but it gives the unit more options.
“We’ve got to get our secondary cleaned up, and figure out who our safeties are going to be,” Sumlin said. “Zach McMillian has really come on as a corner and given us the ability to move Chevy Bennett to safety.”
Sumlin has counted on contributions from true freshmen for several seasons, but this year’s squad will be the most experienced of his tenure.
“It looks to me like we’ll probably have the least amount of freshman play since we’ve been here for four years,” Sumlin said. “You like to think that’s because you’re growing a program.”
Sumlin said linebacker Derrick Mathews, defensive lineman Joey Mbu, wide receiver/running back Daniel Spencer and wide receiver Mark Roberts are the four true freshman who will travel to away games based off of their efforts in training camp.
There have been no setbacks in the rehabilitation of senior quarterback Case Keenum’s knee. However, the goal of the coaching staff has been to not overwork him.
“We’re under a year from the injury and the surgery,” Sumlin said. “During the last two weeks he missed only two practices, we held him out of a couple. If it were up to him he’d practice all the time. We’ve got to ice the knee, we have to make sure he’s not sore. If he starts favoring it you get other problems with arms and shoulders.
“Our medical staff does a great job, he’s right where he needs to be. Everything has gone according to plan.”