David Piland is set to be the Cougars starting quarterback when they play at UCLA on Sept. 15. Photo Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

Know the Opponent: Houston Cougars

Last season Houston went 13-0 and 8-0 in Conference USA before losing to Southern Miss, 49-28, in the conference championship game. Coming into 2012, they’ll have a new head coach and quarterback for the first time in a few years.

Pac-12 fans will see the Cougars September 15th in the Rose Bowl when they play UCLA at 7:30 p.m. (PT) on the Pac-12 Network.

Sophomore David Piland, who didn’t record any snaps, is slated to be the starter in 2012 replacing Case Keenum. Piland did play in 2010 after Keenum was lost for the season and has playing experience which will serve the Cougars well.

Junior Charles Sims led the Cougars with 821 yards on the ground and nine scores last season. This year, he will lead the rushing attack. Senior Braxton Welford, who had just 83 yards with a score, is the team’s backup to Sims.

Gone from the team are their top three leading receivers from last year. Sims had the most yards of the listed returners with 575 and four touchdowns. Five-star freshmen Deontay Greenberry will be counted on being one to contribute.

Sophomore linebacker Derrick Mathews is the team’s leading returner in tackles with 106 last season including nine tackles for losses and three interceptions. Senior linebacker Phillip Steward also returns off of a 77 tackle season, also making 6.5 tackles for loss and six interceptions.

Hoping to match last season’s win total might be out of the question, but first year head coach Tony Levine led the team to a win at the Ticket City Bowl. The returners will be motivated to win the C-USA crown after falling a game short last season as well.

2012 Houston Cougars Schedule –

Texas State 9/1
Louisiana Tech 9/8
@UCLA 9/15
Rice (Reliant Stadium/Houston) 9/29
North Texas 10/6
UAB 10/13
@SMU 10/20
UTEP 10/27
@East Carolina 11/3
Tulsa 11/10
@Marshall 11/17
Tulane 11/24

Check out the entire archive of “Know the Opponents,” a series of all Pac-12 non-conference opponent previews, here.

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Tags: Conference USA David Piland Football Houston Cougars Pac-12 UCLA Bruins

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