Wednesday, September 29, 2004

It could have been a lot worse.

Last Thursday, the Cougars played the Miami Hurricanes a lot closer than the 13-38 final score might indicate. Houston gained more first downs and more total yards than Miami, held the ball longer than Miami, sacked Cane QB Brock Berlin five times and even scored the first touchdown against the Miami defense this season. However, mistakes killed the Coogs; a blocked punt less than a minute into the game and a fumble in the second half were both returned for touchdowns. Houston also couldn’t convert in the red zone, coming away with a touchdown and two field goals on four trips inside Miami’s 20.

While you can definitely take away a lot of positives from this game if you’re a Coog fan – the team performed much better against Miami than they did against Oklahoma two weeks earlier – there are still a lot of areas of concern that the coaching staff needs to address. It will be interesting to see how the Cougars fare against Memphis this weekend.

After the game Thursday night, while I was at McGowen Station waiting for the train to take me downtown, a couple of thugs came up to me, asked me for money, and then cursed at me when I wouldn't give them any, pulled my cell phone off my belt and ran away. I guess I’m lucky that they didn’t pull a gun on me or take my wallet as well.

Why would you steal somebody’s cell phone, anyway? The minute I got downtown I called Lori and told her to call Sprint to have the phone deactivated, and now the thing is useless.

Anyway, I’ve learned my lesson: from now on my cell phone stays in my pocket, not on my belt.

(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015. I reported the theft to METRO Police and got a new phone.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Houston 35, Army 21

It was ugly, but I’ll take it.

The Cougars secured their first win of the season with a victory over Army last Saturday night, 35-21, at Robertson Stadium. Houston pulled out the victory with a lot of help from Anthony Evans, who racked up 282 rushing yards. Army played tough and even tied the game midway through the fourth quarter, but they could not snap their losing streak – the nation’s longest – which is now at 16 games. In spite of the win, it’s clear that there are many areas of concern for the Coogs as they head into Thursday night’s mauling against Miami at Reliant Stadium.

The game was also noteworthy because Kirby made his tailgating and football debut. He decided not to stay for the entire game, however; he and his mommy were getting too hot.

Speaking of which, today marks the official start of fall, my favorite season of the year. Of course, there really isn’t much to “autumn” in Houston: the oppressive heat and humidity lingers until at least mid-October and there’s never any colorful fall foliage to see here. But those few short weeks between mid-October and late November, after the first cool fronts have blown through but before the truly cold weather arrives, when the skies are clear and the temperatures perfect, are worth the wait.

(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Houston 7, Rice 10

So I spend eight months waiting for football season to arrive, and it turns out to be a huge letdown when it finally gets here.

I knew it was going to be a long afternoon when the Cougars fumbled the opening kickoff. Special teams miscues were just one of the many weak spots exhibited by the Cougars during this game. The biggest weak spot was the offensive line. I'm not sure I can recall ever seeing a Houston O-line get dominated by a D-line as thoroughly and as badly as they did Sunday afternoon. I knew the O-line was an area of concern after losing three starters from last year, but I never thought it would be this bad. Kevin Kolb was sacked six times and the Coogs netted exactly eight (8) rushing yards in the entire game. It took a touchdown with nine seconds left to keep the game from being a shutout. If the offensive line doesn't improve quickly, the Coogs will be lucky to go 3-8 this season. That's not hyperbole.

On the bright side, the Cougar defense looks a lot better. Marquay Love, Joe Clay and Lance Everson looked really good, and the defense did a great job in spite of the fact that they got no support from special teams (oftentimes Rice would begin their drives on the Houston side of the field) or the offense. They held Rice's potent triple option attack to a single touchdown. When you hold your opponent to ten points, you should usually be able to win the game.

Props to Rice. They were the better team this afternoon. Ken Hatfield and his staff did their homework and they had the Owls ready to play. The Cougars, on the other hand, really looked unprepared.

Rice has now won five out of the last nine meetings between the two schools.

The Reliant Stadium experience was underwhelming. The crowd of 28,726 – unsurprisingly small, since there seemed to be almost no marketing of this game to the casual sports fan – looked lost in the cavernous environs of the 69,500-seat pro stadium. In fact, with the roof closed and the crowd scattered among the vastness of empty seats, the stadium’s atmosphere was just as sterile and uninviting as the Astrodome. The grass was in poor condition. The acoustics were horrible. The concession stands were understaffed and some weren’t even open at all. I received my tickets ahead of time and I took the train to the game, so I didn’t have the same bad experiences as some other fans with regards to parking and ticket-buying. But, in general, I can’t say I was too impressed with Reliant as a college venue.

I’m trying to stay optimistic about the season – it is only one game, after all – but this loss does not bode well for the Cougars. Houston has never had a winning year after beginning the season with a loss to Rice. Given the murderous nature of the 2004 schedule, this was a game the Coogs could ill-afford to lose.


(Retroblogged on August 23, 2015.)