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C-USA notebook: Houston hopes Bush can revitalize offense

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ten of Conference USA's 12 football teams lost their first game of the season, but only one of those losses forced the exit of a team's offensive coordinator.

Houston's 30-13 loss to Texas State, a team in its first year in the Football Bowl Subdivision, led to offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt resigning just one week into the season. The Cougars, the No. 1 FBS offense in 2011, mustered just 326 yards against Texas State and went 1 for 13 on third down.

Travis Bush will take over play-calling duties, and Coach Tony Levine said he has complete confidence in him to pull Houston out of its offensive doldrums against Louisiana Tech.

"We've had one chapter of our book, and it was a bad chapter, but we're not putting the book down, we're going on to chapter two," Levine said. "There are 12 total guaranteed and we're going to read the whole thing."  

Levine said Houston will tweak its offense, but there won't be a major overhaul. As for his input in the offense - he coached tight ends and outside wide receivers before taking the top job following Kevin Sumlin's departure to Texas A&M - he said that won't change much, either.

"My input is primarily during the week," he said. "Once the game starts, if I feel that I need to give input I will and I did Saturday night. I am involved during the week, but once the game starts, our coordinators on all three phases are responsible for calling the game."

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SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI played three quarterbacks in a 49-20 loss at Nebraska and the competition will continue. Chris Campbell led the Golden Eagles, going 6 for 12 for 69 yards and a touchdown against the Huskers. Anthony Alford went 1 for 5 for six yards, and Ricky Lloyd went 0 for 2.

The Golden Eagles have a bye week before hosting East Carolina on Sept. 15, and Coach Ellis Johnson said there's a chance the three-quarterback race could be reduced at least to two.

"I would have liked to have done that four weeks ago, but it will still be a work in progress," Johnson said. "I thought this game tape showed some things where each player can help us and a lot of this decision is what our team is around that player. We obviously have to improve in the vertical passing game - we have got to get more throws downfield - and hit those and that will loosen things up even more."

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TULANE HAD a small scare Tuesday, when Coach Curtis Johnson was taken to the hospital during Tuesday morning's practice after he experienced dizziness and cramping in his back. He was released Tuesday night and while there was concern he might have suffered a heart attack, it was affects of head fatigue.

"I just got dehydrated," he told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. "I didn't eat in the morning, we started workouts early ... I had a little workout, and then I started getting dizzy and I sat down. I was just dehydrated, but I'm good now."

The Green Wave, which lost to Rutgers 24-12, will open its conference play at Tulsa.

Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at or 304-348-1712. His blog is at


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