The Houston Cougars are well underway with their 2017 spring practice schedule, returning this week to the practice field after being off for spring break last week.
One of the many things the staff will be addressing is filling the void left by Tyus Bowser who played a big role in a lot of the success the defense has seen over the last few years from his “Buck” linebacker position. That position is most notably known as the stand-up linebacker who often rushes the quarterback which Bowser did very well in his time on Cullen Boulevard.
A couple of the key names who the Cougars will initially be looking at to replace Bowser, who continues to ready for the upcoming Pro Day the Cougars will hold March 27, are junior Emeke Egbule and sophomore Leroy Godfrey.
Egbule filled in often for Bowser in 2016, with an increased work load in the second half of the season which Bowser missed due to injury. As he battles to take his former mentor’s spot in the starting line-up, the experience he got last year is a big boost for him.
“That was a confidence builder really,” Egbule said after practice Tuesday. “I knew in my mind that if the time came I would have to step up so now I am confident but I have to compete for that spot still. I am just going to work at it the best i can because I am in competition with the other B (Buck) linebackers. We are just taking it each step trying to get better each day.”
Head coach Major Applewhite spoke to the benefits of players like Egbule who have some experience to draw from, even if not as starters.
“For all of our young players either offensively or defensively, or even special teams, there is no substitute for getting in the game and having a real live rep, Applewhite said. “They understand the speed of the game the tempo of the game and the physicality of the game. So they understand that in their preparation in the offseason so we are seeing them play at a higher level now.
“There is some continuity at that Buck position, Applewhite added. Emeke (Egbule) played some last year and Leroy (Godfrey) is getting more time as well.”
The outside linebackers are working with a familiar face this spring, although maybe in a little more official role, as current outside linebacker coach Dan Carrell worked with the same group at times last year while on staff as a Defensive Graduate Assistant.
The Cougar will return to the practice field on Thursday before wrapping their week with a scrimmage on Saturday.