The first half of the Arizona game was the best half of football the Cougars have played since the Thursday night game vs. Louisville in 2016. Both yesterday and in the Louisville game, the Coogs were up 31-0 at the half. But the halves were dominant in different ways.
Louisville had 5 false start penalties and Lamar Jackson took 4 sacks in that first half - the loudest TDECU has ever been. The offense was efficient but the defense controlled the game. Louisville ended up with 15 penalties and the UH defense recorded 11 sacks.
Yesterday, it was D’Eriq King and Co shredding Arizona’s defense. In just 10 minutes and 17 seconds of game time, the Coogs built a 21-0 lead on 184 yards. The defene did their part, too: Arizona had 8 first-half drives and only 1 went for more than 32 yards. Zona ate up clock but little else.
In about 56 minutes of game time from the middle of the 3Q against Rice until UH went up 38-0 against Arizona early in the 3rd, the Cougars outscored the Owls and Cats 66-0. In that span, D’Eriq King threw 6 TD passes and ran for 2 more. He accounted for 461 total yards in that stretch.
How efficient were the Coogs during that 66 point onslaught? In 15 drives, the Cougars punted 3 times, had a fumble, and a V Formation at the end of the Rice game. They scored on the other 10 drives (9 TDs, 1 FG).
Arizona’s average starting position in first half was the 19 yard line. The Coogs did a great job of getting down the field on kickoffs. The Wildcats started better than their 25 yard line only once in the first 3 quarters.
Booker’s Big Day
Tight end Romello Brooker got wide open in the Arizona secondary to score UH’s 3rd TD of the game.
Kendal Briles sets this up perfectly. On 2nd down, Brooker goes in motion and and makes a great seal block on the outside to spring Bryson Smith on a screen pass. After 2 runs to to the left side to get a first down, the Coogs come right back to the set with Brooker in motion.
This time, King pump-fakes the screen pass forcing safety Xavier Bell to bite. Brooker runs right past the flat-footed Bell, catches the ball at the 35, and waltzes into the end zone. Brooker had 7 catches for 45 yards last year but already has 4 receptions for 91 yards and a TD in 2018.
Kendal is a master at using tempo and spacing to his advantage. Here, he plays on the natural instincts of a DB who reacts to the same set-up he just saw a minute earlier.
It wasn’t Bell’s only rough moment of the game:
Bell did have 6 tackles.
How do you complain about a 27-point win over a P5 team? About being up 38-0 before you call off the dogs? Well, there are some things that need to be cleaned up.
Drops: The most blaring example were the back to back plays in the 1st quarter by Lark and Stevenson (the throw to Stevenson is a certain TD). This can obviously be corrected.
Missed tackles: UH had 13 missed tackles in the first half and over 20 in the 2nd half. If you dismiss the second half results due to backups playing, you’ve still got an issue early. Arizona ran 46 plays in the half - 35, really, when you dismiss incomplete passes (can’t miss a tackle). Tate voluntarily fell down on two others. So in 33 snaps, the Cougar defense missed 13 tackles. That has to be cleaned up.
Total defense: UH is 114th in the country in total defense. I don’t place too much emphasis on this stat but it’s a concern. Coogs are 119th in passing yards allowed.
First Down defense: This one is a concern. UH has allowed 53 first downs in 2 games - good for 113th in the country. Coogs are 113th in 3rd down defense, too.
No one is stressing over these things. But over the course of a season they can come back
to haunt you.
There are some good numbers nationally: UH is 18th in total offense, 19th in yards per completion, 22nd in rush offense, 25th in scoring, and 26th in pass efficiency. There are 12 teams in the country that haven’t allowed a sack - UH is one of them. UH has 17 tackles for loss (19th in the nation) and has only allowed 2 tackles for loss (23rd).
In two games, the Cougars have had the ball a grand total of 44:42 - less than 3 quarters worth.
UH is 126th in time of possession which proves how meaningless that stat can be. 6 of the bottom 11 teams in TOP are from the American.
Funny How Things Work Out
When Kevin Sumlin was introduced at Houston in December 2007, his first move was to hire Noel Mazzone as his OC. Mazzone couldn’t get out of his contract with the New York Jets so Sumlin went to his 2nd choice, the pass game coordinator at Texas Tech, Dana Holgorsen.
Dana brought recently CFL-retired Kliff Kingsbury in as an offensive quality control assistant. When Dana left for Oklahoma State 2 years later, Kliff took over as his OC and helped deliver monster seasons for Case Keenum and Johnny Manziel.
In January 2016, Sumlin was finally able to hire Mazzone as his OC at Texas A&M. In 4 SEC losses last year, their offense averaged 20 points as A&M lost 3 of 4 of those by 15 or more. Sumlin and Mazzone were fired but reappeared six weeks later in Tucson.
Two weeks into this season, the duo has transformed Khalil Tate from the most explosive running QB in the country into a guy with 22 rush yards in losses to BYU and UH. The Wildcats have scored just 41 points this season - good for 103rd in the country in scoring.
If Sumlin had his way, Mazzone would have been at UH and Case Keenum would have never been guided by Dana and Kliff, likely never gone to the NFL. UH never would have had a 13-1 season in 2011 and Kevin never would have gotten the A&M job and lifetime financial security. All because one guy couldn’t get out of an NFL contract.
Dana and Kliff made Sumlin tens of millions of dollars. His buddy Noel is going to make him an early retiree.
Despite being a 3.5 point favorite, the Coogs weren’t getting much love before the game:
At least someone came pretty close. Ahem.
Houston has outscored opponents 92-45 this season. … Rice went from an 11 a.m. kickoff in week 1 to an 11 p.m. kick in week 2 at Hawaii. Meanwhile, Hawaii goes from an 11 p.m. kickoff in week 2 to an 11 a.m. kick in week 3 (at Army) - 6 a.m. Hawaiian time. Brutal. … Arizona ran 100 plays to UH’s 80. … Khalil Tate set a QB rushing record with 327 yards in a game last year. He finished with just 8 yards rushing against UH. … SMU has given up 5 non-defensive TDs in 2 games: a punt return, 2 fumble returns, an interception return, and a kickoff return. … Garrett Davis is 3rd in the country with 2 INTs. … The 3 P5 wins for the American are the most in a single day in conference history (all were by double digits). … The AAC is 4-3 vs. P5 teams - not much different than our record vs FCS (5-2).
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