HOUSTON (AP) — Houston star defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who was not in uniform against Tulane on Thursday night, became angry and shouted at Cougars coach Major Applewhite as the team left the sideline at halftime and did not return to the field for the second half.
“He got emotional, but he’s young and that’s what happens,” Applewhite said. “And he’s not playing. That’s hard. That’s difficult. I don’t hold anything against anyone. I’m just going to visit with him about it. I love him. I want him to be a part of our team. I want him to be with our team.”
The coach added he had not yet spoken to Oliver.
Applewhite said he was not singling out Oliver and that he had made other players who were not playing take off the coats on a 50-degree night.
“I’m trying to be fair,” Applewhite said.
Oliver missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury. The junior is one of the top defensive linemen in the country and likely high first-round NFL draft pick. Before this season he announced this would be his final year in college and he would enter the 2019 draft.
Oliver has not played since injuring his knee on a low block against Navy on Oct. 20. Before the game against Tulane, Oliver was on the field running, jumping and catching passes as his teammates warmed up, ESPN video showed.
Oliver was an All-American as a freshman and a second-team All-American last season as he played through a nagging knee problem. Despite missing time this season, the 6-foot-3, 292-pound Oliver was tied for third in the American Athletic Conference with 13½ tackles for loss, including three sacks.
The Cougars also lost their offensive star against Tulane. Quarterback D’Eriq King went out with a leg injury late in the second quarter. King came into the game leading the American in yards passing and touchdown passes. He threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score against Tulane before being injured.
King was on the sideline, using on crutches during the second half.
“We have to wait and see what doctors say,” Applewhite said.
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