One on One with Efrem Oliphant

Going into the matchup with the Temple Owls this week, Efrem Oliphant is ranked seventh nationally with an average of 11.5 tackles per game.

Oliphant recorded his first career interception at The Liberty Bowl against Memphis in the second quarter.


“I was happy, more grateful, I just felt that I have to give thanks to God for that being the first one and being in college five years playing pretty much, and I was excited also,” Oliphant said. “It was just that dream game that I always think about, and it finally happened.”


Oliphant then followed up with a second interception with just 01:02 left in the game ensuring the Cougars victory against the Tigers.


“Before it happened I was just thinking man someone needs to get another interception, and I was just thinking maybe you should go get you another interception,” Oliphant said. “I was just playing the right plays, doing my job and it just happened to come my way.”


After the conference-win against Memphis, Oliphant was voted defensive player of the week due to his impressive performance and his ability to create two turnovers when Houston needed them the most.


“It’s a good feeling, but to myself, I’m my biggest critic,” Oliphant said. “I feel that I still left a lot of things out there, and that I could still play better, and just looking forward to making sure that everyone on the team is playing better and that’s just what it comes down to.”


Unfortunately, it was a double whammy for the Houston defense, losing both Derrick Mathews and Lee Hightower to devastating career ending injuries during the Memphis matchup. Oliphant now has an opportunity to step up even more into a leadership position for his teammates.


“A lot of guys have to step up now and get into the rotation,” Oliphant said. “It’s just mostly making sure everybody is doing their job and being together, and myself just becoming more of a leader out there to the defense and making sure everybody’s doing everything that we were doing before.”


After stepping in for Mathews during the second half of the Memphis game, junior Elandon Roberts has been preparing to fill Mathews’ position for the Temple matchup, and possibly the remainder of the season. Oliphant has high hopes in Roberts’ ability to fill Mathews’ role.


“I feel he is going to be fine. He’s a guy who has been here also and he knows what he’s doing,” Oliphant said. “He’s going to play hard while he’s out there and I have a lot of confidence in him to go and fill the shoes for us when we need it.”


Coach Tony Levine mentioned that losing a day during the week to prepare for these Thursday and Friday night games is more significant to the players than people may realize.


“It’s quick, depending on how the last game went you have got to get your body back in shape, up to percentage and a lot of people have nicks here and there,” Oliphant said. “It’s just taking it one day at a time and making sure you’re going in and getting treatment, and taking care of your body even mentally, going to watch film and all that, getting ready for the next opponent.”


Back in 2010, Oliphant joined the Houston Cougar football roster, playing in all 12 games. It seemed like a perfect fit being born and raised in Houston, Texas and attending Langham Creek High School, Oliphant was able to pursue his collegiate career right at home near his family.


Being redshirted in 2011, Oliphant has been a part of the evolution of the Houston defense, and the various styles of the coaching staff over the past five years.


“I’ve had a few different changes, and I’ve had different personalities I guess you could say,” Oliphant said. “The main thing is maturity, they all preach that you have got to mature, you have to become a man. Coming to college from high school you still have that little childish side, you’ve got to grow up and mature.”


With graduation looming, Oliphant is focusing on the here and the now with the goals he still wants to conquer as a Houston Cougar, before his collegiate career comes to an end.


“I want to for sure win this week as a team … and we’ve still got to host for the conference championship, we want to get that,” Oliphant said. “I still want to be able to go to a bowl game, and then the main goal is to graduate.”

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