Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Hail Mary! Houston 41, West Virginia 39

 Several days later, and I still don't believe that the Cougars actually won this game.

The Good: Houston's first score of the game was a Matthew Golden 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. QB Donavan Smith had a breakout game, going 21 of 27 for 253 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions; he also rushed for 34 yards and a score. He completed 16 straight passes to end the game, including the hail mary that won the game for the Coogs. Stephon Johnson caught four passes for 96 yards and two scores, including the game winner, while Stacy Sneed rushed for 78 yards on seven carries. On the defensive side of the ball, Isaiah Hamilton robbed West Virginia of a touchdown by intercepting a tipped pass in the endzone.

The Bad: The UH defense gave up a whopping 546 yards to the Mountaineers and allowed West Virginia to convert 13 of 19 third down attempts. The Cougars were up by 11 points midway through the fourth quarter, but lapses on defense and overly-conservative play on offense allowed West Virginia to score two touchdowns in the span of 2 minutes and 41 seconds, including what should have been the game winner for West Virginia: a 50-yard pass from QB Garrett Greene to Hudson Clement on 4th and 10. However...

The Stupid: Following the touchdown, Garrett Green took off his helmet (while he was still on the field) and started waving "goodbye" to the UH student section. That drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that was enforced on the following kickoff. That put Houston in field position for...

The Miraculous: Like I said, I still don't believe this happened:

Credit to Joseph Manjack IV (who had a great game himself) for tipping the ball up so that Stephon Johnson could snag it for the game-winning score.

What It Means: This is Houston's first conference win in the Big XII; Houston also becomes the first incoming school to beat an "original" Big XII team and Dana Holgorsen gets a win over his former employer. The Cougars find themselves with a 3-3 record at the season's halfway point.

Next up for the Coogs is the one we've all been waiting for: the Texas Longhorns, at TDECU Stadium, on Saturday October 21st.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Imagining a Manhattan-like Galveston

I came across this post on The Social Media Platform Former Known as Twitter last week, and it suggests an interesting thought experiment: 

Galveston was the largest city in Texas prior to the Great Hurricane of 1900. What if that storm had had never hit Galveston, and the city continued to grow? What if the Galveston Seawall was a proactive, rather than reactive, project to harden the island against natural disasters? Would the region's urban geography look completely different? Would Galveston have eventually developed into a dense, Manhattan-like urban core from which everything radiated out, leaving Houston as little more than a suburb on the northwestern edge of a hypothetical Greater Galveston Urbanized Area?

Of course, as Christof's response indicates, there were factors working against Galveston that favored Houston, even before the 1900 hurricane hit. Transportation truly is destiny, and it did not favor Galveston Island.

Also, in the real (not "what if") world, the Hurricane of 1900 (and its almost-as-devastating counterpart in 1915) *did* happen, and completely devastated the city. This is because barrier islands like Galveston Island aren't well-suited for cities.  They are the first line of defense against hurricanes so they bear the brunt of their fury. While there are cities on barrier islands - Miami Beach, Atlantic City and Hilton Head all being examples besides Galveston - none of them have ever developed into being the anchor city of their respective metropolitan region. They're simply too vulnerable to hurricane-related devastation, so the core of urban development is inland. 

It's fun to think about an alternate universe in which Galveston developed into a dense island full of skyscrapers and subways that became the region's urban core, in which high-density development extended to Bolivar Peninsula, Texas City and San Luis Pass, in which development grew around the bay, in which Houston was an outlying industrial town. How different would everything be? Would the University of Galveston be a member of the Big XII or SEC? Would the Galveston Rockets play in an arena behind UTMB's campus? Would Scholes Field be a hub for United Airlines?

Of course, that's not what happened. I enjoy Galveston and I'm glad the city exists. But the city, especially before 1900, was in many ways a bet against nature. And in the end, nature always wins. 

Houston 28, Texas Tech 49

Before last Saturday, Houston was 1-10 against Texas Tech in their last eleven meetings (the amazing 2009 game being the Cougars' lone win). After last Saturday, the record is 1-11.

The Good: The UH offense in the first half, which scored four touchdowns.

The Bad: The UH's offense in the second half, which didn't score anything.

The Worse: The UH defense, which surrendered a total of 400 yards to the Texas Tech offense.

The Ugly: UH special teams, which allowed Texas Tech scores on a kickoff return and a blocked punt. Houston K Jack Martin also missed a field goal.

What It Means: The Cougars are now 0-2 in Big XII play with no hopes of a win coming anytime soon. The talent, the depth and the coaching simply aren't there for this program to be competitive in this conference. And that falls on the shoulders of not just Dana Holgorsen, but the people who hired him (e.g. UH President Renu Khator, UH AD Chris Pezman, local mob boss restauranteur Tillman Fertitta).

Ryan says this team deserves better. He's right.

The Cougars get next weekend off, before they lose to West Virginia on the evening of Thursday October 12 at TDECU Stadium.