Phillip Steward led a spirited defensive effort from the University of Houston defense last Saturday during a 56-3 victory over East Carolina and for his efforts the Missouri City native was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week by the league office on Monday.

Steward recorded a career high two interceptions in the victory, helping to hold the Pirates to a season low three points in the 53-point triumph. He also added four tackles, including a tackle-for-loss en route to his first weekly honor.

It’s the ninth time a Kevin Sumlin-coached defender has earned a weekly award. The Cougar defense had two honorees last season, most recently linebacker Sammy Brown on Oct. 25, 2010.

It is also the fourth time a Cougar has won a weekly award from the league this season. Case Keenum won Offensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 5 and Sept. 19, while wide receiver Patrick Edwards won the weekly offensive award on Sept. 12.

So far this season Steward ranks fourth on the team with 30 tackles, including 5.5 tackles-for-loss. His two interceptions rank second on the team, while his two fumble recoveries paces the club.

Houston (6-0, 2-0 in C-USA), now nationally ranked in both polls (#22 Coaches / #25 Associated Press), enters its bye week as one of the nation’s 13 remaining undefeated programs. The Cougars return to action at home on Oct. 22 vs. Marshall. It’s the 2011 Homecoming Game for the Cougars and tickets are available by calling the UH Athletics Ticket Office at 713-GO-COOGS. Tickets can also be ordered online at


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