The thing about this current Houston Cougars football squad is that you never know who the hero's going to be. One week it's running back Charles Sims, putting up awe-inducing numbers and jaw-dropping runs. Then it's David Piland continuing the UH QB tradition with big passing numbers.
The Houston Cougars had two standouts in Saturday's 39-17 win over UAB to go to 3-3 on the season. There's kicker Matt Hogan, who set the school and Conference-USA record by kicking six field goals. Then there's receiver Shane Ros, who caught seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Odds are that you've heard of Hogan. The senior's been the kicking mainstay of the program for several seasons now, and he's so automatic that head coach Tony Levine figures the Cougars will get at least three points whenever the offense reaches the opposition's 35 yard line. But you might not know of Ros, which is probably because the junior's a walk-on who spent the first part of the season on the scout team.
"Shane Ros won't be paying for school much longer," Levine said. "That's why I love college football. I get to be around 125 18- to 22-year-olds and see them grow during that time."
The Cougars figured UAB would key its defense to stop Sims -- Sims still finished with 133 rushing yards for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. Thus it was up to the coaches and Piland to figure out the best way to counter that, and that best way was through the air, especially using Ros, who has worked himself off of the scout team onto special teams, and now, due to injuries to the receiving corps, into key playing time on offense.
"Shane (Ros) played wonderfully," Piland said. "It's one of those things where they can't key on one guy. One guy isn't necessarily going to get the ball. It's the system. It's how it works. Today they left a lot of guys open and we made them pay for it. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot of touches for everyone. We'll continue to do that."
The offense wasn't always successful for the Cougars, and they were stopped multiple times in the red zone. That's where Matt Hogan came into play, kicking six field goals to help the Cougars extend leads and put the game out of reach. He was six of seven on field goal attempts, making kicks from 23, 27, 23, 29, 52 and 26 yards -- his lone miss was from 48 yards at the end of the first half.
"Matt Hogan is really special to this team," Levine said. "I've got so much confidence in him. I've been around a lot of good kickers, and mentally he's as good as anybody in the country. He is really in the zone, especially over the last two games. Our field goal protection was excellent. We changed up a couple things schematically and we executed it terrifically. He is a great weapon." Levine and Piland would prefer the team score the touchdown and that Hogan just kick the extra point. And there were a lot of unhappy fans inside Robertson Stadium whenever Hogan was sent out to kick from short distance. And Hogan would rather have seen the touchdowns scored as well. But he's got a job to do, and he was happy to do it.
"I had no idea so I guess the feeling is pretty nice," Hogan said about setting the record. "Everybody wants to see six, but I like to try and get three when I can. It's all actually very surprising. I just go out there when I'm told, but it's always nice to get a three when possible."
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As for Shane Ros, if Levine is to be believed, Ros is soon going to be getting a scholarship and he'll no longer have to pay his way to play football. His is the good story, the underdog story. The guy just doing everything he can to get on the football field and play.
"We had an injured receiver, so they asked me to step in and go back at that side of the ball and at that side of the field," Ros said. "Ever since I've been here, I've just been paying attention. Even though I might not be starting, I've been paying attention on the field and paying attention in meetings. Knowing what your job is so when you're given the opportunity, you know what to do."
The Cougars win on Saturday was a team effort. Piland and Sims played their roles. The defense was excellent. Then there was Matt Hogan and Shane Ros. And suddenly the Cougars, who started the season 0-3, are 3-3 and looking for the winning record when they face SMU (2-4) in Dallas on Thursday night.