The Houston Cougars have gotten out to a tremendous start to their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference, sitting at 6-1 after seven games including an unblemished 3-0 record within the AAC. Of course all teams always have faith within the walls of their program but from the outside looking in, the Cougars weren't expected to make a lot of noise with their new conference mates this season.
The pre-season media poll landed the Cougars at an underwhelming sixth place projection, and although the Cougars still have the toughest stretch of their schedule coming over the next few weeks (upcoming back-to-back road games with Louisville and Central Florida) they have started to catch the attention of their new conference mates, including Rutgers who they upended at home Saturday 49-14.
The Cougars defense has emerged as a noticeable force in defensive coordinator David Gibbs first season and currently leads the nation in turnovers forced with 27 through seven games. That combined with the emergence of true freshman quarterbacks John O'Korn and Greg Ward as well as a group of talented receivers including Deontay Greenberry, Daniel Spencer, Xavier Maxwell the Cougars are beginning to turn some heads.
As heads turn and interest begins to pique, head coach Tony Levine continues to make sure that the team enjoys the process but keeps their business first attitude.
"What I talked to our young men about was that it was another outstanding team win for us," Levine said after Saturday's win. "We've got a fast turnaround moving forward. We play again in five days. We play Thursday night at home against South Florida. I was very clear that we'll enjoy this win on the plane ride and then wake up tomorrow, we play in four days. We've still got a lot of things to accomplish and a lot of things to improve. The season is going by quickly and we're looking forward to the next opportunity Thursday night in Houston."
The team likely hasn't forgotten about the public not giving them much of a chance in their new environment before the season, Greenberry talked about the chip on the team's shoulder after the Rutgers game.
"We always play with a chip on our shoulder," he said. "We always feel like we have something to prove going into every game, it's what gives us that extra urge to give it more every play. We feel like we have something to prove every week and we play for our brothers. We always look forward to coming out with a big win."
For now the Cougars move forward in preparation for the next opportunity to flip a few more doubters over to their side. That opportunity comes on a national stage this week as they face off with South Florida Thursday night on ESPN.
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