Piland leads group vying for starting QB job

The Sports Xchange

The Houston Cougars have gone from the NCAA's career passing leader to seeing if a career PAT holder can overtake a sophomore who sat out last season to take charge of the pass-happy offense.

Such is life this spring for the Cougars in the post Case Keenum era.

And question marks and maybe even a little doubt from the outside is perfectly OK for first-year coach Tony Levine, who replaces former coach Kevin Sumlin, who jumped at the Texas A&M job in December.

A five-player rotation entered spring drills vying for the coveted Cougars starting quarterback spot, but it is clear that the job in the pass-happy offense is sophomore quarterback David Piland's to lose. After all, Piland is the player who started eight times in 2010 after season-ending injuries to Keenum and former backup Cotton Turner. But Piland also sat out the entire 2011 season as a redshirt and must prove himself to Levine.

Redshirt freshman Bram Kohlhausen is a very promising prospect who likely won't be content sitting behind Piland for three years and wouldn't be a shock to win the job, but it's another player Levine was talking up as spring drills began. Senior Crawford Jones, a career holder on the Houston special teams unit thus far in his college career, may also sneak into the roll.

"Say what you want -- a lot of people think (being a holder) is an easy job," Levine told the Houston Chronicle. "He runs out there in some key situations and is catching the snap, getting laces out in less than four-tenths of a second for Matt Hogan to make all his kicks. That tells me about his mental makeup. He's a very confident young man. He's got a great arm. He's been in this system now for four years. He's very accurate. So I'm excited to see what he does this spring."

Of course whoever wins the quarterback job this spring -- it seems as though the Cougars would like to have a solid grasp of who the starter will be entering the summer -- will have some new players to throw to since the team's top three receivers all graduated.

The new faces on offense, a new head coach and a seemingly always lightly-regarded defense make the Cougars a tough team to get a read on before the 2012 season begins.

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