DB Rocky Schwartz

2006 Statistics

Coach: Art Briles
26-24, 4 years
2006 Record: 10-4
at Rice WON 31-30
at Miami FL LOST 13-14
at Southern Miss LOST 27-31
UTEP WON 34-17
UCF WON 51-31
at SMU WON 37-27
at Memphis WON 23-20 (OT)
South Carolina LOST 36-44

2006 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-31, BCS-UR

2007 Outlook

There’s a lot working for head coach Art Briles and his Conference USA champions heading into this season. After the Cougars three early regular season losses were by a total of eight points, they rode a six-game winning streak until South Carolina tamed them in the Liberty Bowl. Seventeen starters return, and with no major changes to his staff, Briles has almost every component to assure Houston of improvements across the board. But all of this means little if the new quarterback cannot handle the responsibility of leading this CAB offense. Basically, Houston spreads foes out and takes advantage of mismatches and other defensive weaknesses by making audibles/adjustments. For a team that seems lined up to throw most of the time, they actually run it more, and the run should be leaned upon even more with this many quality backs ready to keep defenders busy so the new QB can settle in comfortably. The candidates for field general – two youngsters and one experienced transfer – each look like they can run the CAB system well enough. And the only concerns on defense surround the secondary; the talent is there, and local hero Bubba McDowell (Miami Hurricanes 1985-88, Houston Oilers 1989-94) has been brought in to have them reach their potential(s). They seemed to tighten at the right times last year, but without a QB who can guarantee results (like Kevin Kolb) to bail them out, by season’s end, the DBs (and maybe net punting results, which go hand-in-hand) will be, if anything, why Houston whiffs at another conference crown. Oregon and ‘Bama, two teams the Cougars have never beaten, are both tough early away tilts, but on the other hand, revamped Tulsa is the only league road game against an above-.500 opponent and Southern Miss is not slated. At Houston, Briles is 3-9 versus BCS-aligned foes, but his 7-1 C-USA mark last year signals how far above this league he is capable of elevating his team. With mostly two-star prospects that excel due to teamwork more than due to superior individual ability, these Cougars are probably a few years from getting back to where they just were. But that doesn’t mean UH now has much less of a chance to win each week. A tactician like Briles is what makes college football the sport we love.

Projected 2007 record: 9-3
OG Jeff Akeroyd
QB - 2.5 DL - 3
RB - 3.5 LB - 3
WR - 3.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Blake Joseph, 6-8-1, 56 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Anthony Alridge, 95 att., 959 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: Donnie Avery, 57 rec., 852 yds., 5 TD

Scoring: Ben Bell, 14-18 FG, 51-53 PAT, 93 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Ben Bell, 14-18 FG, 51-53 PAT, 93 pts.

Tackles: Trent Allen, 95 tot., 49 solo

Sacks: Phillip Hunt, 8 sacks

Interceptions: Ernest Miller, 2 for 11 yds.

Kickoff returns: Anthony Alridge, 27 ret., 22.3 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Perry McDaniel, 1 ret., 12.0 avg., 0 TD


OFFENSE: Kevin Kolb-QB, Byron Alfred-OL, Jackie Battle-RB, Sterling Doty-C, Vincent Marshall-WR
DEFENSE: Willie Gaston-CB, Will Gulley-FS, Wade Koehl-OLB, Marquay Love-NT, Justin Laird-P

Let’s just clear up this misconception right away – true or false: the Cougars run the ball more times than they pass it. Here’s a hint – they ranked 28th in rushing and eighth in passing last year under the league’s now-departed top hurler Kevin Kolb (Philadelphia Eagles, 2nd round). Most of you likely remember the aerial prowess Kolb displayed for four years in UH’s CAB system (simply named after Coach Art Briles), but the answer is, in all of Briles’/Kolb’s campaigns, it’s true, they ran it more. This will be the first year here for coach Art without his QB phenom, and, like seen in KK’s freshman year (’03), they could wind up running it twice as much as they throw it. The one-back looks usually seen will again feature senior “utility back” Anthony Alridge. Switched from receiver (where he led the team with 22+ yards per catch in ’05), the Denton drummer led the nation with his 10.1 yards per carry average (only lost six total yards during his 95 attempts). His lightning affect was also impacting because Alridge flew under many foes’ radar - hulking Jackie Battle was the team’s workhorse, but there will now be more focus on stopping Alridge. RS freshmen Randall Antoine and Jessie Harrison are the new rotating backs – both proved this spring they can also find ample holes as defenses are forced to respect UH’s passing prowess. The holes come care of a line that uses footwork and group effort to highlight their athletic tendencies. No one exemplifies this more than All-CUSA guard Jeff Akeroyd, the Outland watch list member who returns inside after starting at left tackle (out of need) in ’06. Mike Bloesch stepped in for Akeroyd admirably inside, so these two form a solid presence. Moreover, Carl Barnett’s mobility at center will be key for those laterally developing play calls, especially when there is no TE/H-Back to lead the way. Dustin Dickinson is solid at right tackle (26 consecutive starts there), but bookend Matt Hart has to realize his upside for the line to stay strong. German-born junior monster Sebastian Vollmer was held out of full-contact drills in spring practice (back surgery), but he will push Hart for the LT start once back this fall. Three freshmen backups on the line exemplify how important the starters are for this offense to reach a healthy performance peak. The end can also be sealed with the help of junior tight end Mark Hafner, though, he is better suited over the deep middle than for serious blocking assignments. A huge boost for the new QB is how the Cougars lose only one major receiving component. Big Jeron Harvey wins jump balls at will, while all-conference senior Don Avery likely becomes the main target underneath (ala Marshall). Ex-sprinter/hurdler Chris Gilbert is guaranteed YAC from his new starting “slot”, and senior fourth-receiver Perry McDaniel could start on most I-A teams. Like usual, the Cougar QB(s) only have to deliver it to find out just how deep the corps goes. And that brings us to the $64 zillion question: who will be found under center when they journey to Eugene? The answer seemed clear after spring – the modest, methodical ways of more experienced Blake Joseph won out over the flashier arm and quicker feet of RS frosh Case Keenum. Joseph can motor, too, and the solid effort of each during the inclemency of the Red-White closing scrimmage has coaches feeling good about either at the helm. Then Alex Peña, who was to be a second-string senior at Oklahoma State, decided to transfer after receiving a waiver from the NCAA that says he can play here without waiting a year. It would be naïve to think Peña came to Houston without some sort of guarantee to see reps (if not to start). Simultaneously, he will have to be heads above Blake for coaches to think a one-year-and-done senior is more worth procuring for ’07 than Blake and/or Keenum and their implications beyond just this campaign. Nonetheless, his arrival reopens the QB race. Coach Briles can seemingly put any of the three in place and still finish over .500 with such a strong supporting cast in his innovative system, so expect more of the same from Houston’s balanced production machine.


RB Anthony Alridge


Returning Starters in bold
QB Blake Joseph-So (6-2, 215) Case Keenum-Fr (6-1, 205)
RB Anthony Alridge-Sr (5-9, 175) Randall Antoine-Fr (5-10, 190)
WR Jeron Harvey-Sr (6-5, 215) Tim Monroe-So (6-2, 185)
WR Chris Gilbert-So (5-9, 175) Perry McDaniel-Sr (5-9, 175)
WR Donnie Avery-Sr (5-11, 190) Brennan Gleason-Jr (6-0, 195)
TE Mark Hafner-Jr (6-3, 230) Wesley Scourten-Fr (6-6, 225)
OT Matt Hart-So (6-6, 305) Sebastian Vollmer-Jr (6-8, 290)
OG Jeff Akeroyd-Sr (6-3, 295) Jerrod Butler-So (6-2, 330)
C Carl Barnett-So (6-3, 285) Matt Parker-Fr (6-2, 265)
OG Michael Bloesch-Jr (6-2, 295) Jared Lindsey-Fr (6-3, 280)
OT Dustin Dickinson-Sr (6-3, 290) Jordan Shoemaker-Fr (6-3, 275)
K Ben Bell-Jr (6-0, 175) ..



From the first year of coordinator Alan Weddell’s tenure here through year two (’06), the run defense improved while the Cougar’s ability to stop the pass devolved. Five of the front seven’s starters return, and all indications through spring are that they have taken it up even another notch. The line plays big, with large “ends” to bolster their group effect in the 3-4 (they actually list having two tackles). All-CUSA junior DE Phil Hunt is the smallest lineman on the two-deep at 250 lbs., exemplifying how many opposing bigmen they occupy so the LBs can clean up. 6’5 DT Ell Ash led the team in QB hurries (nine) as a reserve, so his promotion should help Hunt keep his stat-line bulging, too. The biggest shoes that need filling are at nose, where they lose three seniors and where Cody Pree has inched ahead of senior Tate Stewart. Though their rotation looks good so far, they are more hybrid DE/DTs than truly sized NTs, and bigger lines should be able to regularly handle each without needing many double-teams. Like on the line, the linebackers only lose one starter. Playing now almost like a safety pulled into the box, junior OLB Stephen James (unlike Peña) sat out ’06 upon transferring (from Oklahoma State, too). His experience in a BCS-aligned conference will surely keep the corps strong as he lines up against extra receivers. Senior Brendan Pahulu compliments James well since he seems stronger against the run. The biggest reason Houston will probably keep improving against the run is due to insiders Allen and Lubojasky. Better communication (leading to more fluidity as a group) will help the entire defense move together with tightened results. The secondary is the defense’s marginal link, and following their statistical plight will likely reflect the entire team’s destiny. Consistency is the key – junior corners Keith Fontenette and Quinte Williams both have starting experience and strong stat lines, so it is just a matter of fine tuning a few things so every play sees their best effort(s). There is some drop-off when the reserves are in, so health on the outside is important. Rocky Schwartz apparently has no ill affects from the knee surgery needed after he was lost in just the third game last year. He still earned third-team all-conference, but he will have to share the strong safety slot with Ernest Miller, who went over and above as adjunct starter. FS Joseph Gonzales just needs to return from the shoulder surgery that held him out of spring action to get the well-earned start. Backup Brinkley can hold the fort and should have a breakout year as the oft-used heir-apparent to Gonzales. Stats of concern include allowing foes to convert 47% on third-downs and letting 211 of the 329 points they allowed to be scored in the first half. Like the secondary’s ranking(s), follow how well UH can affect these numbers to see if they are ready to take the next steps and field a defense that is as strong as their offense.


DE Phillip Hunt


Returning Starters in bold
DT Ell Ash-Jr (6-5, 293) Billy Hartford-Jr (6-2, 260)
NT Cody Pree-Jr (6-3, 290) Tate Stewart-Sr (6-3, 285)
DE Phillip Hunt-Jr (6-2, 250) Brian West-So (6-4, 265)
LB Brendan Pahulu-Sr (6-3, 239) Shomari Williams-So (6-2, 245)
LB Cody Lubojasky-Jr (6-3, 230) Rodney Rideau-Jr (6-1, 230)
LB Trent Allen-Sr (6-2, 244) ..
LB Stephen James-Jr (5-10, 205) James Francis-Jr (6-1, 215)
CB Quinte Williams-Jr (5-11, 170) Carson Blackmon-So (5-11, 180)
CB Kenneth Fontenette-Jr (6-0, 185) Kellan Yancy-Sr (6-0, 185)
SS Ernest Miller-Jr (6-0, 195) Rocky Schwartz-Sr (5-10, 200)
FS Joseph Gonzales-Sr (5-11, 200) Brandon Brinkley-So (6-0, 175)
P Tommy Skinner-Fr (6-4, 215) ..




Ben Bell provides three points from inside the 40 with regularity, but he only converted one last year from beyond that. Another field-position inconvenience is a new punter with UH’s weak coverage team that finished 114th in net results. Walk-on Tommy Skinner has to step up after Garrett LeFevre left school, and Skinner has the leg to adequately give the Cougars a chance to improve this dimension. Young Teric Williams is a speedy DB who impressed enough this spring to take over the punt return duties. Avery and Alridge are serious weapons to have out for kick returns, but hey…high risk, high reward in this case.