Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Meltdown on Cullen Boulevard

In my many years of watching University of Houston football, I've experienced a lot of gut-punching, disappointing losses. I sat through all those woeful, perennially-losing teams coached by Kim Helton and Dana Dimel. And that sucked. But in all my years as a UH football fan, I honestly don't think I've experienced anything quite as outrageous, as miserable, or as pathetic as last Saturday evening's embarrassing, demoralizing and abomidable upset 13-30 loss to FBS newcomer Texas State.

The offense was a sick joke. Quarterback David Piland was dreadful; he completed a paltry 17 passes out of 44 attempts (seriously!) for 211 total yards, one touchdown and one interception. For somebody who started eight games once Case Keenum was injured in 2010, last night he looked like he had never seen the playing field before.

But why was Piland attempting 44 passes in the first place? Houston's primary offensive weapon, Charles Sims - arguably the best running back in Conference USA, who can catch as well as run and should be Houston's primary offensive weapon - only had 13 rushes for 77 yards and a single catch. Why was he not used more? Why was he not used on the opening drive of the 2012 season, where the Cougars attempted three passes - all of them incomplete - and Sims didn't see the ball? What kind of incompetent playcalling is that?

It was a horrible evening for the Cougars, offensively. They could only convert one third-down conversion on 13 attempts, and held possession of the ball for a paltry 16 minutes and 51 seconds (as opposed to Texas State's time of possession of 43 minutes and nine seconds.

The defense, meanwhile, was gashed for 248 rushing yards. Bobcat running back Marcus Curry rushed for a career-high 131 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came off a 73-yard run from scrimmage. To the defense's credit, they held Texas State to only three points after halftime; how much of that was halftime adjustment and how much of that was Texas State switching to a conservative, clock-chewing style of offense I don't know. Regardless, the defense's performance in the first half was awful and inexcusable.

Was this loss to Texas State - their first win as an FBS program - the worst loss in UH football history? Probably not; from a purely monetary perspective, last year's loss to Southern Miss that kept the Coogs out of the Sugar Bowl was a lot more damaging. The Cougars had no expectations at the national level coming into this game, and for what it's worth Texas State is at least nominally an FBS program (unlike FCS Youngstown State, who upset Pittsburgh yesterday). But this loss is nevertheless catastrophic. If the Coogs can't beat Texas State, who on their 2012 schedule can they beat?

Saturday's dreadful performance on offense clearly didn't sit well with head coach Tony Levine, who on Monday announced the "resignation" of his offensive coordinator, Mike Nesbitt.  Travis Bush, who was offensive coordinator at Texas-San Antonio, will take over as OC. Whether it will have any affect on last Saturday's offensive output remains to be seen. But when you fire a coordinator after only one week into the season, you know your program has some serious problems.

And that's where UH football is right now. The program is in serious trouble.

No comments: