NCF Nation: Jason Phillips

Houston has finally named a replacement for offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, who left the program to take the same position at Oklahoma State last month.

Wide receivers coach Jason Phillips will be the Cougars' new offensive coordinator and newly named quarterbacks coach Kliff Kingsbury will be co-offensive coordinator in addition to his quarterback duties.

“Continuity, especially on the offensive of the ball, was very important in all of these decisions,” coach Kevin Sumlin said. “Jason understands what we have been doing here and what we want to continue doing on the offensive side of the ball. Jason has a lot of experience, and he knows the style of offense we prefer. He’ll do a tremendous job.

“Kliff was a tremendous player as a quarterback and has been in the background with our offensive staff for the past two years. This will give him an opportunity to continue the progress and development in the level of quarterback play.”

Involving Kingsbury in the offense makes sense since he played under Holgorsen at Texas Tech and knows the style of offense Houston is trying to play inside and out. Since Kingsbury doesn’t have much experience, pairing him with Phillips, who has been with the Cougars for the past eight seasons, will be a good way to teach him the daily duties of the offensive coordinator.

Kingsbury also has a good rapport with starting quarterback Case Keenum and should be able to help seamlessly guide this offense forward.

Sumlin also promoted special-teams coordinator Tony Levine to assistant head coach. Levine will continue to coach Houston's inside receivers and tight ends. Running backs coach Clarence McKinney will be the recruiting coordinator.
Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

After last year’s 17-16 win over Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl, TCU linebacker Jason Phillips went up to fellow linebacker Daryl Washington and passed the figurative torch.

 
 Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire
 Daryl Washington leads the Horned Frogs with 70 tackles.
Phillips and fellow senior linebacker Robert Henson had just played their last collegiate game and Phillips knew that that win over a previously undefeated Boise State team was the beginning of something special for the Horned Frogs.

So he looked to Washington, a junior who had split time with Henson in the starting lineup, and asked him to continue the legacy the seniors were leaving behind.

“He said, ‘This is going to be your year,’” Washington recalls. “’You’re going to be the leader of this defense. I want you to make plays, to continue to learn and continue to keep getting better because it’s going to be your team and you’re going to be the leader of the team. They’re going to be looking at you to keep this team rolling.’”

Through nine games, Washington hasn’t let Phillips down.

He leads the team with 70 tackles and two interceptions. He has seven tackles for loss and two sacks. He and defensive end Jerry Hughes have been the catalysts on a defense that ranks No. 3 in the country in total defense. He’s been a vocal leader on and off the field. He’s made big plays when his team has needed him.

And now, he leads the No. 4 Horned Frogs into a pivotal Mountain West game against No. 16 Utah in what will likely decide both the conference championship and whether the Horned Frogs make their first-ever BCS bowl.

“It’s not necessarily a lot of pressure on me because I look forward to taking on that challenge,” Washington said of Phillips’ parting words. “I love challenges and if I’m the leader and they’re looking up to me then I have to be able to come out and play every game, every Saturday. So, I look forward to that challenge.”

Washington’s presence was felt during spring football. He earned praise from coach Gary Patterson and was considered the most improved player coming into fall camp. Patterson said because Washington had been a partial starter last season with 63 tackles, three sacks and six tackles for loss, he moved into the full-time starting role effortlessly and proved that there would be no slack in the linebacking corps despite losing a couple of great players.

“Daryl’s going to be a high draft choice,” Patterson said. “He’s probably the best athlete, linebacker-wise, coming through and he’s probably second to Brian Urlacher that I’ve recruited in my tenure, if you want to just look at pure athletic ability.”

Washington admits that Hughes returning for his senior season has helped him. Because Hughes, the nation’s leader in sacks a year ago, garners so much attention from offenses, it usually steers opposing players right into Washington’s path. Washington also said that learning from players such as Phillips, Henson and even David Hawthorne, who graduated in 2007, has made him a better linebacker and better equipped to teach younger players such as sophomore Tank Carder and freshman Tanner Brock how to play at a high level.

The trio now comprises one of the most dangerous and effective linebacking corps in the country.

“I just tell them that we just have to hold people to one less point,” Patterson said. “Last week we were No. 1 in the nation [in total defense], we gave up 300 yards, we’re third in the nation, and I don’t even think that makes any difference to them. I think right now they’re on a purpose to go win ballgames. They’ve got three left and they know they’re very close to doing something special -- winning a conference championship.”

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