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Cougars Continue To Improve

Special to the N.E.T. Sports Gazette

HOUSTON, Texas - Even though the scheduled two-hour practice was scaled back several minutes, University of Houston head football coach Art Briles was still pleased with his team's effort, as lower temperatures provided added relief as the Cougar fall camp moved into Day Three.

In shoulder pads for the first time, Houston ran through several different types of drills under the afternoon sun, working some individual, "skeleton" and full team practices to hit the midway point of the first week of preseason preparation. Pleased is good adjective to describe how Briles viewed today's workout.

"I think we're alright," said Briles, 7-6 in his first season as the Cougar head coach. "We cut back a little bit and bounced around pretty good. When you get into pads, everything kind of changes and it takes a day or two to adjust.

"So, we'll just go through another adjustment period and get ready for the Owls."

Cougars Picked To Finish Fifth

Special to the N.E.T. Sports Gazette

HOUSTON, Texas - University of Houston seniors Joe Clay and Stephen Cucci today were selected to the preseason All-Conference USA squad, as selected by the league's 11 head football coaches. As a team, the Cougars were picked to finish in fifth place.

A defensive end from San Angelo, Texas, Clay was the Cougars' top defensive lineman a year ago, pacing UH in sacks with seven and quarterback hurries with 22. A Second-Team, All-C-USA pick in 2003, Clay finished the year with 16 tackles for loss and a career-best 87 total tackles.

As for Cucci, the Bradenton, Fla., native returns for his senior season a second time after the NCAA granted him another year of eligibility. Last season Cucci played in just one game due to a nagging hamstring injury; however, in 2002, Cucci established himself as one of the league's top tight ends with 12 catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns. He picked up second-team accolades at the end of the year.

Fresh off a 7-6 season and a postseason appearance in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl, the Cougars are picked to finish fifth behind Louisville, Memphis, 2003 champion Southern Miss and TCU. UAB is picked sixth, followed by USF, Cincinnati, Tulane, East Carolina and Army.

Fall camp starts for Houston on Sunday, August 8, when both the newcomers and veterans report for orientation. The Cougars are slated for their first practice on Tuesday, August 10. Dates and times of fall camp will be released at a later date.

Sunday August 15, 2004

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