Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Houston 28, Memphis 24

After falling behind by two touchdowns early in the game, the Cougars rallied back in the second half to manage a rarity under the Tony Levine regime: a road win over a favored team.

The Good: Houston's defense forced five turnovers, including two critical ones late in the game which kept Memphis from potentially taking the lead. Greg Ward, making his first start at quarterback, passed for 188 yards and a touchdown and rush for 95 yards and a touchdown, including a 64-yard scramble in the second quarter to get the Coogs on the board.

The Bad: As Matt Jackson notes, much of Houston's offensive gains were the result of Greg Ward's ability to improvise when plays break down. He is getting no protection from the Coogs' paper-thin offensive line. Special teams are abysmal; they fumbled a kickoff that led to an easy Memphis score, and Kyle Bullard missed his only field goal attempt of the night.

The Ugly: Two of Houston's better defensive players: cornerback Lee Hightower and linebacker Derrick Mathews, were injured during the game and will miss the remainder of the season. That's a huge hit to a defense that has been the team's lone strength this season.

What it Means: This was a big win for the Coogs, who reach the halfway point of the 2014 season with a 3-3 record.

Next up for the Coogs are the Temple Owls, who come to town for a Friday night ESPN game at TDECU Stadium.

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