The UH QBs Part Three: Al Pena

"Houston was pretty much the first place I looked at because I knew Kevin Kolb was leaving and had known Coach Briles for a while and liked the offense he ran. So, I then came down to UH and looked at what graduate school I could get into." - UH QB Al Pena

RS - Please tell us about your experiences at Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State. What led you to the University of Houston?
AP - I was at Georgia Tech for just one semester after graduating from high school early and participated in spring ball and it wasn't for me so I went to Oklahoma State where I played for four years ant got lots of playing time. I played against teams like Texas, A&M and OU, but last year they moved me to 3rd string so I started looking for a place to play. I found out about the new rule where a player could graduate and transfer to a D1 school without having to sit out a year. Houston was pretty much the first place I looked at because I knew Kevin Kolb was leaving and had known Coach Briles for a while and liked the offense he ran. So, I then came down to UH and looked at what graduate school I could get into.

RS - Tell us what it has been like taking a crash course in Art's sophisticated offensive scheme and how much of the system have you been exposed to thus far?
AP - I have been exposed to pretty much all of it. At first it looked as though it was going to be a lot, but I have already learned three different offenses in college, one at GT and two at OSU, you just have to learn the different language. Here it is a little different because you have to look at three or four different things each play. I think I will have it all down in another week.

RS - Tell us about your feelings and emotions when you received the official word that you would be eligible to play in 2008.
AP - A huge relief! There were a lot of things I had to go through in getting into graduate school and going through the whole waiver process and then just waiting. It was just a big relief to finally get the word I would be competing.

RS - What are some of your early thoughts on your competition at QB and how are the three of you handling this daily pressure?
AP - I think it is good for all three us because it is bringing out the best in all of us. Case Keenum and Blake Joseph come out here and look like they are getting better everyday and I feel like I am getting better each day. This competition is going to make our team better.

RS - When all the dust settles do you feel it will be one, two or three QBs taking the snaps?
AP - I hope it is just one QB but Coach Briles knows what he is doing so if he thinks we need to start with two QBs, then that is the best direction for the team and that is what we will do.

RS - Which receivers have really caught your attention thus far?
AP - You cannot look past Donnie Avery with that speed and Jeron Harvey is a big target. Then you have guys like Jordan Brown and Perry McDaniel who are consistent and catch everything. I think Chris Gilbert is real quick and can take over what Vincent Marshall did for us last year.

RS - While being on the sidelines last season while playing Houston, what were some of your thoughts and did that game factor into your decision to become a Cougar?
AP - That was actually the week I first heard of the new rule. I paid a lot of attention to their offense while they were on the field and watching that offense live really did sway me to come to Houston.

RS - So being that you thought you would be coming to Houston did you have a little joy after the game?
AP - Laughter…….

RS - Tell us what you feel your strengths and weaknesses as a player are?
AP - My weakness is just I have to learn to play faster. Right now I am still learning and not reacting enough and the main thing Coach Briles emphasizes the most is playing quick and fast. Coming from a different system that is what I really need to work on the most. My strength is experience and my knowledge of the game is a big plus.

RS - How well do you think you will function in the running aspect of Art's offense, like the Veer formations and QB draws, etc.?
AP - I think I will be able to execute those plays. I was a running QB in high school and got away from that at OSU where my weight escaladed to 240 lbs, but now I am back to my playing weight and have my quickness back.

RS - What is your current weight and speed?
AP - I am down to 215 lbs and really can't tell you what my speed is. In high school I ran a 4.6 but it was more like a 4.8-4.9 while at OSU with the added weight.

RS - Tell us about your team's explosion in one half against UT followed by the implosion during the 2nd half.
AP - It was our homecoming so the crowd was fired up and we were fired up and we were not afraid. The biggest thing going into a game as the underdog is to not be intimidated by the other team. We knew we could play with them, but then in the 2nd half Vince Young came out and turned the game around for them.

RS - Do you have any aspirations of continuing your football career after this season?
AP - Yes sir, that is why I came to Houston, to get one last opportunity, because it is every player's dream to play at the next level. I really think under Coach Briles I have a good shot.

RS - Please tell us what your degree is in and what you are currently studying.
AP - I have a degree in education and am currently working on my masters. If I don't keep playing I would like to get into coaching.

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