Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cougars at 4-0

Can it really be possible that one-third of the college football season is over already? It feels like it just started...

Anyway, the Coogs are 4-0 and I only have a few things to say about their last two games.

Houston 35, Louisiana Tech 34: yes, so this was the biggest comeback in University of Houston football history. Down by 27 points with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter, the Cougars rattled off 28 answered points for a thrilling win over the Bulldogs in Ruston. And that's great, except for one thing: it shouldn't have come to that.

The reason the Cougars had to mount such an incredible second-half comeback is because they played like absolute crap for the first 40 minutes of the game. They weren't prepared, they were sloppy and out of synch on both sides of the ball, and they let Louisiana Tech, a team that was led by a 17-year-old true freshman at quarterback and was taken into overtime by FCS program Central Arkansas the week before, utterly dominate them. Why? Moreover, why do these lackluster starts requiring such heroic comebacks happen so often? As Dustin Resnik argues:
As much as you might want to, you can't ignore how the first two and a half quarters played out. How does Houston, a team with hopes of becoming the next BCS buster or joining a BCS conference, get outplayed so massively by a mediocre-looking Louisiana Tech squad?

Every time the Cougars show flashes of brilliance, there's a slip up. For every huge comeback, there was two and a half quarters of ineptitude. For every 2009 stunner of Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, there is the UTEP loss from the same year.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to bring you down after a win for the ages. But there are better teams than Louisiana Tech left on the schedule. We'll know the Cougars have really made it when they don't need the 27-point comeback.

Can the Coogs find a way to play with that same intensity - to bottle that 20 minutes and play like that for an entire game? Because that would be something to see.

I agree. It's time for this talented, senior-laden team to play with full intensity from the opening kickoff. 27-point comebacks might be thrilling, but they're not necessary if the team plays the way they should.

Houston 56, Georgia State 0: fortunately, there were to be no problems with slow starts at home last weekend against an FCS Georgia State football program that is in only its second year of existence. The game was really little more than a scrimmage for the Cougars, as they rolled up 732 yards of total offense. Case Keenum was pulled in the third quarter after completing 29 of 34 passes for 415 yards and two touchdowns and Houston notched their first shutout since 1999. In fact, the most remarkable thing about the game was not what happened on the field, but what happened in the stands around it: the attendance was 32,005, a number that would have been unthinkable for any UH game, let alone a game against an obscure FCS opponent, just a few years ago. It really is amazing what winning, building more on-campus housing, marketing the games to the students, and cultivating a thriving tailgating scene can do for a program that used to struggle so mightily at the gate.

Next up for the Cougars is a Thursday night trip to El Paso to play the UTEP Miners. The Miners might not be very good this year, but the Cougars have traditionally had their hands full with UTEP in the Sun Bowl and their disappointing meltdown there two years ago - another disaster which was caused by a lackluster start - is still fresh in the minds of UH faithful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello Thomas,
Just wanted to say thank you for the piece you wrote about rabbits a few years ago. Found it today while looking for articles about house rabbits as pets. My two kids think they want a bunny. Our youngest is highly allergic to cats, and we were considering getting a rabbit as an alternative pet. Maybe a guinea pig will do!
All the best to you and yours...hope Coach McCarney works out for you all in N. Texas. He was a heck of a position coach at UF, and a fine recruiter, too.

Good Luck the rest of the season!

LJ in FL :)