Davis, Brown Scheme For UH Defense

Defensively, Houston typically lines up either in a 7-man front, or an eight man front with a 4-4 configuration.

"They usually have five defensive backs in the game at all times," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "They actually list their secondary guys as weak safety, strong safety, free safety and two corners. It’s usually the strong and the weak safety that comes up (to the line of scrimmage)."

The leader of the Cougar pack is FS Hanik Milligan, whom head coach Mack Brown predicts will be playing on Sundays next season. The senior has registered 36 tackles (15 solo) in just three games and, for the second straight week, Texas faces a team whose leading tackler is the free safety.

"Milligan is the guy who leads the team," Davis said. "He’s a little different from (North Carolina FS) Dexter Reid. Dexter is a guy who’s involved in a lot of blitzs and who’s played a lot in different spots. I thought we did a good job of being aware of him. On both of Roy (Williams') touchdown catches, he was in the blitz mode and we were able to get a hat on him."

Texas coaches noticed that Reid aligned in certain spots against specific formations, and they presented different looks to get UNC's leading tackler farther away from the ball. Reid blitzed early and often and often took an inside lane, whereas Milligan is not as apt to join the blitzkrieg.

"They keep him more as a DB," Davis said, "But he’s a real good tackler and he’s played forever. I think he’s been here as long as I have. It always seems like he’s been there and he’s always played the same spot. The rest of the defense kind of funnels everything to him."

Houston returns six starters on a defense that is currently giving up 307 net yards per game (115 rushing, 192 passing) and ranks 35th nationally.

Look for Davis to loosen up the defense early by incorporating fullbacks and tight ends into the passing game, a scheme used effectively last Saturday as Texas jumped out to a 24-0 lead at North Carolina.

"We’ve always tried to get the tight ends involved," Davis said, "and the fullbacks were a little bit more involved this past week. Often, that is predicated by what the defense is doing. We have been able to get the tight ends involved a little bit more and hopefully we'll continue to."

Still, the mark of a championship team (offensively) is not so much rooted in scheme or technique but the squad’s collective and instinctual sense of focus, tenacity and toughness in running the plays and ultimately "taking out" the opponent.

"The really good teams that have been playing championship football are the teams that when someone scores, they respond," Brown said Tuesday. "Every time North Carolina scored, our offense picked it up and went back and scored. I was very proud of that. That was something we didn’t do in the opening ballgame. We had some opportunities in the second half (against North Texas) and we didn’t take it to them and put them away. But we put North Carolina away in the fourth quarter. It says a lot about character, toughness and conditioning when you can put up 223 yards and 21 points, to (Carolina’s) 21 yards and seven points."

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