Beyond the box score: Dell, Jones, & Tune

Tune drops a dime to Dell / Photo by Mario Puente

Note: This is part 1 of two of Beyond the Box Score. So many numbers to look at this week we had to break it up.
Houston is now 5-0 in AAC play for the first time since 2015. UH has played in a conference with 6+ league games for 45 years (1976-1995, 1997-present) and this is the sixth time the Cougars have started 5-0 in conference play (final conference record):

2015 (7-1)
2011 (8-0)
1990 (7-1)
1979 (7-1)
1978 (7-1)

Nathaniel Dell’s three touchdowns are the most for a UH player since the Temple game in 2018 (Bryson Smith) and the most in a win since Deontay Greenberry caught three at Rutgers in 2013.

UH is #1 nationally in sacks. The Cougars are tops in total sacks (34) and sacks per game (4.25) after eight games. To compare, in the 25 games played in Major Applewhite’s two seasons, UH had 46 sacks total.

SMU’s Tanner Mordecai had three TD passes in a nine-pass, 13-minute stretch in the first half but did not throw any in the second half. Eleven of his 37 attempts went for a TD or a first down (29.7%).

Clayton Tune threw touchdowns on back-to-back passes for the first time in his career. Eighteen of his 38 attempts went for a TD or a first down (47.4%).

Dana Holgorsen is now 14-14 at UH and 10-9 in AAC games.

Some FBS teams have two specialists for kickoff returns and a third guy for punt returns. There are still plenty of teams that have one player back for kicks and punts but how many players can do both very well?

In 2020, Boise State’s Avery Williams had two kickoff returns for touchdowns and two punt return touchdowns. This season, Marcus Jones has equaled him with two kickoff return scores (ECU, SMU) and two punt return TDs (Grambling, Navy). So it happens all the time, right?

GoCoogs searched NCAA records and four other stat databases and found that, besides the two mentioned above, no player in the country has had two or more TDs in kick return and two or more TDs in punt return in the same season since 2002. Derek Abney of Kentucky did it in 2002 for Kentucky.

It is estimated that there have been 169,000 punts and 182,000 kickoffs by FBS teams in that timeframe and only Marcus Jones and Williams have scored twice in a season on each type of play. Remarkable.

Clayton Tune was 5/8 on passes thrown beyond 15 yards, clearly UH’s best success rate of the year. The Coogs ran 39 of 76 snaps in SMU territory (51%) while SMU ran just 22 plays in UH territory (36%).

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