Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Houston 38, Tulsa 28

It was a lot closer than it needed to be, but the Cougars managed to edge out a win over the 2-9 Tulsa Golden Hurricane to become bowl-eligible for the second consecutive season.

The Good: Running back Kenneth Farrow dominated Tulsa’s hapless defense, carrying the ball 21 times for 116 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Wide receiver Steven Dunbar, a true freshman, had a breakout game with seven receptions for 150 yards. The defense continued its turnover-forcing ways by intercepting Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans three times, all in the fourth quarter, to seal the win.

The Bad: The Cougars jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but then let their foot off the gas and allowed Tulsa to tie things up in the second half. The Golden Hurricane matched the Coogs score-for-score throughout most of the second half and the Cougars couldn’t put the game away until late in the 4th quarter. The Defense struggled for the second game in a row, giving up 25 first downs and 416 total yards to Tulsa.

The Ugly: The athletics department might have distributed 23,572 tickets to this game, as the box score attendance indicates, but hardly anybody used them. Kickoff time was moved up to 11 am to avoid potentially severe weather, and the skies were gray and threatening throughout. That, along with the letdown against Tulane two weeks before, caused a lot of people to stay home and TDECU Stadium was mostly empty for this game.

What it means: The win assures that Houston can do no worse than .500 on the season. Next up is a Black Friday showdown against the SMU Mustangs in Dallas.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Houston 24, Tulane 31

In what has become a pattern under the Tony Levine regime, the Cougars were upset in front of a large (by UH standards, at least) home crowd by an inferior opponent. This time, it was the Tulane Green Wave (2-6 going into Saturday's game) that came to TDECU Stadium and ruined Houston's homecoming. The Cougars, to their credit, did have a chance to send the game into overtime after a late score and recovered onside kick. But Greg Ward threw an interception - his third of the day - as time expired to seal the embarrassing loss.

The Good: The Cougar defense did manage to extend its streak of creating a turnover to 32 straight games. Safety Adrian McDonald recovered a Tulane fumble in the endzone for a Cougar touchdown late in the first half. On the Green Wave's very next possession, he picked off Tulane QB Tanner Lee to set up a Houston field goal. The Cougars went into the locker room at halftime up 17-14, but that was the only time they led the game.

The Bad: Where shall I begin? The Cougar defense, which had been the team's bright spot, gave up 361 yards and 22 first downs to the Green Wave, who converted 10 out of 16 third downs. Lee gashed the Cougar secondary for 237 yards and three touchdown passes. The Cougar running game that looked so good against South Florida last week looked horrible against Tulane; RBs Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson managed only 40 yards between them. Greg Ward rushed for 59 yards, but most of those were on scrambles after his protection broke down. He completed 31 of 49 passes but looked indecisive at times; in addition to his three interceptions, he was also sacked three times.

The Ugly: Again, where shall I begin? Deontay Greenberry fumbled on the Cougars' very first play from scrimmage, which more or less set the tone of the game. Kyle Bullard missed two field goals. While the Coogs "only" committed six penalties for 51 yards, they were penalties of the type that sustained Tulane drives and killed Houston ones. And the team simply did not look focused or prepared for this game. This was truly a team loss.

What it Means: The Coogs still only need one win to become bowl-eligible, but this loss - their first to Tulane since Dana Dimel was head coach - probably prevents them from winning a share of the conference title. Moreover, it's just another black eye that is going to cost the program credibility and fan support it simply can't afford to lose.

As for me, I've seen enough: Tony Levine isn't going to get the job done here, and needs to be relieved of his duties as head coach. 

But it comes with a free printer!

I recently found this advertisement in the business section of the July 8, 1993 Houston Post that had been used by my parents to wrap and store something:
That's right, folks: back in the summer of 1993, you could go to Bizmart (soon to become OfficeMax!) and get a state-of-the-art Compaq 486 with a VGA monitor and a 240 MB hard drive for the equivalent of $4,080 2014 dollars.

For purposes of comparison, the 128 GB iPhone 6 with an A8 Processor is 21 times faster, has over 530 times as much storage, and costs about one-tenth as much.

But it doesn't come with a free Epson dot matrix printer.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Houston 27, South Florida 3

The Cougars went to Tampa last Saturday and came away with their third win in a row over struggling South Florida Bull squad.

The Good: The Cougar ground game was the story of the day, gaining 217 yards and three touchdowns on 47 rushing attempts. Kenneth Farrow had 112 yards and one TD on 22 carries; he also caught a Greg Ward pass for another touchdown. Ryan Jackson contributed 62 yards and 2 more scores on 14 carries. The UH defense, meanwhile, kept South Florida out of the endzone.

The Bad: The Houston offense started out slow; their single touchdown in the first half was assisted by a huge USF penalty on fourth down. Kyle Bullard missed an extra point. Otherwise, there wasn't much to complain about this time around. The Cougars even managed to get flagged for only one penalty the entire game.

What it means: The Cougars are now in a five-way tie for the American Athletic Conference lead with East Carolina, UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis. Next up is Tulane at TDECU Stadium.

Two quick election observations

1. Not to belabor the same thought that is being made all over the rest of the internet today, but I think we can forget about Texas being a "purple" or "battleground" state anytime soon.

Yes, this was an election that the Republicans were going to dominate, both nationwide and at the state level. But when the Democratic candidates for statewide office can't even break forty percent against sleazeballs like Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick - or moreover, when statewide Democratic candidates actually lose vote share compared to four years ago - then all the bluster about demographic trends or better voter identification and turnout methods or Battleground Texas or whatever just looks silly.

I'm sure we'll continue to hear about "Texas turning blue" in 2016, and 2018, and 2020. I'm equally sure that state Democrats are not going to have any luck getting their candidates elected to any statewide office in any of those years. If ever. 

2. The state might well be solidly conservative, but my former home of Denton is clearly becoming more liberal. First, there's this:
Denton became the first Texas city to ban hydraulic fracturing Tuesday after a citizen-driven proposition cruised to a landslide victory at the polls.

Final returns showed the fracking ban passing by a whopping 59-41 percent margin all night long. While dozens of cities in New York and elsewhere have banned fracking, Texas is oil and gas country. So Denton’s proposition over the rights of a Texas city to police what happens within its borders pushed it into the national spotlight.

Ed Soph, treasurer of Pass the Ban, said the turnout sent a message.

“The responsible citizens of Denton have spoken — loudly and clearly,” Soph said.
When I worked for the City of Denton, and the Barnett Shale play exploded, everybody was rushing to get special gas well plats approved so that they could drill in and around the city. It was simply the "Texas" thing to do and was largely without controversy. I do remember Mr. Soph being one of the few people who spoke against drilling, and I also remember that he was regarded by local business leaders and elected officials as a tree-hugging jazz professor from UNT whose opinion didn't matter. Looks like times have changed.

The fracking ban will be challenged in court, but yesterday's election result is nevertheless noteworthy, especially considering how opponents of the ban outspent proponents by a massive margin but still lost by a margin of almost 20 percentage points.

Then there's this:
Liquor sales are now legal in Denton, after thousands of voters chose to make all alcoholic beverages legal to sell.
The vote means that Denton bars and restaurants no longer have to get special permits as private clubs to sell hard alcohol, and that businesses can start selling bottles of hard liquor starting Jan. 1.
I've written about the "wet-dry line" in the City of Denton before: basically, beer and wine sales at grocery stores and restaurants were limited to the city's 1977 boundaries, and any land annexed into the city after 1977 was dry. I spent many a meeting trying to explain to prospective convenience store owners why they could not sell beer in wine at their prospective location, even though the convenience store on the other side of the street was already selling alcohol. It was confusing, to say the least, but I was told that it would never change: the the city's churches would fight any attempt to move the wet-dry line, and the city's conservative voters would fall in line behind them. The same went for liquor stores ever being allowed inside Denton city limits.

Well, the wet-dry line was finally erased by a local election in 2006, which was amazing enough. Yesterday's vote, which allows liquor stores inside the city as well as does away with the city's silly "private club" permits for mixed drinks at restaurants and bars, is nothing short of miraculous.

Again, it appears that times have changed.