Houston Cougar defenseBeyond the Box Score By The Numbers Football 

Beyond The Box Score: The 1st 4 Games & The Next 8

Summary

  1. Delving into stats from the 1st four games.
  2. Analyzing UH’s remaining schedule.

There isn’t much that can be gleaned from the Texas Southern game. Going deep into the box score or film will show things we haven’t seen against FBS programs.
 
It’s encouraging to see pressure brought against a QB and actual punt returns and a back-up QB having success in the offense. But against bottom-of-the-FCS competition (238 in Sagarin), you can’t put much stock into it.

Notable From The First 4 Games

A few things to consider from the first 1/3 of the season:

  • UH has given up 2012 yards total – 119th in the country (up from 127 last week!). But the Coogs remain 128th in pass defense – flat out embarrassing. The Cougars struggle to get off the field on 3rd down, too (117th in the country).
     
  • Rush defense has been a bright spot for this team. After Rice and Arizona ran for about 300 yards combined, the Coogs have held Tech and TSU to 159 total yards on 68 carries (2.33 ypc). For the season, UH has give up 456 rush yards (2.8 ypc).
     
  • The UH offense has out-rushed each opponent by at least 74 yards and by an average of 139 yards in 2018. UH was out-rushed 4 times (and totals were within 20 yards of each other 3 more times) in 2017.
     
  • UH forced TSU to punt 10 times – the Cougar defense has only forced 10 punts in a game three times in the regular season games since 2011.
     
  • Payton Turner is having a low-key terrific year for the Coogs. He’s got 2.5 TFL, a deflected pass against Tech, a QB hurry and a blocked punt. He needs to be disruptive to draw attention away from Oliver and to help the rest of the defensive front seven to be productive.
     
  • 15 different guys have scored a TD so far this season. Only 13 players scored TDs in all of 2017.
     
  • Only two players scored 5 or more TDs last year yet two have already done so in 2018 (and Keith Corbin is at 4).
     
  • UH scored 41 offensive TDs last season. Through 4 games in 2018, the Coogs are at 29 already.

Going Deeper Into UH’s Points Explosion

As we discussed yesterday, the 209 points UH has scored is a big deal. That total looks ridiculous when compared to the 101 the Coogs scored in the first 4 games last year.
 
In reality, 209 is the second-highest first-four-game scoring mark in our history.
 
First 4 Games – Total Points

1989 – 236 points
2018 – 209
2015 – 183
2016 – 179
2011 – 177
2010 – 177
 
Notice that, in this very specific stat, 5 of our top six scoring starts have occurred in the last 9 years. The Tony Levine years are glaringly missing from the list (as is Major’s first year).
 
Previously, I never considered the 2010 start as being so productive (Coogs scored 122 in two games before Keenum tore his ACL).
 
Of the 6 teams listed above, the 2018 team has given up the most points through 4 games (122 points). The 1989 squad gave up the fewest points (24) followed by the 2016 team (42).
 

Bryson Smith
Celebrating Bryson Smith’s TD vs. Arizona (photo by Mario Puente)

Analyzing The Remaining Schedule

The next 7 weeks, leading to the showdown in Memphis on Black Friday, should present few road blocks. The Coogs are in prime position to go on a winning streak if they can get a home win over USF.
 
Houston hasn’t won 3-straight since late 2016. And UH has won four-straight (or more) just 8 times since 1990 (2016, 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2003).
 
A look at our remaining opponents:
 

Tulsa (1-3, 0-1) – beat FCS Central Arkansas, lost to Texas, Arkansas State, Temple
Sagarin: 97
ESPN FPI: 93
Predicted FPI wins: 4.5
Remaining SOS: 80
Points per game: (rank) 24 (103)
Schedule before UH game: N/A
 

@ ECU (1-2, 0-1) – beat UNC, lost to USF and FCS NC A&T
Sagarin: 101st
ESPN FPI: 106
Predicted FPI wins: 3.7
Remaining SOS: 74
Points per game (rank): 25.7 (92)
Schedule before UH game: Old Dominion, @Temple
 

@ Navy (2-2, 1-1) – beat Memphis and Lehigh, lost to SMU and Hawaii
Sagarin: 82
ESPN FPI: 92
Predicted FPI wins: 5
Remaining SOS: 66
Points per game (rank): 36 (41)
Schedule before UH game: @Air Force, Temple
 

USF (4-0, 1-0) – beat Georgia Tech, Illinois, Elon, ECU
Sagarin: 55
ESPN FPI: 63
Predicted FPI wins: 8.8
Remaining SOS: 73
Points per game: (rank) 32 (61)
Schedule before UH game: @UMass, @Tulsa, UConn
 

@SMU (1-3, 1-0) – beat Navy in OT, lost to UNT, Michigan, TCU
Sagarin: 104
ESPN FPI: 100
Predicted FPI wins: 4.2
Remaining SOS: 78
Points per game: (rank) 21.5 (112)
Schedule before UH game: HBU, @UCF, @Tulane, Cincinnati
 

Temple (2-2, 1-0) – beat Maryland and Tulsa, lost to Buffalo, FCS Villanova
Sagarin: 66
ESPN FPI: 81
Predicted FPI wins: 5.5
Remaining SOS: 68
Points per game: (rank) 28 (80)
Schedule before UH game: @Boston College, ECU, @Navy, Cincinnati, @UCF
 

Tulane (1-3, 0-0) – beat FCS Nicholls State, lost to Ohio State, UAB, Wake Forest
Sagarin: 99
ESPN FPI: 91
Predicted FPI wins: 4.2
Remaining SOS: 69
Points per game: (rank) 22.3 (107)
Schedule before UH game: Memphis, @Cincinnati, SMU, @Tulsa, @USF, ECU
 

@Memphis (3-1, 0-1) – beat FCS Mercer, Georgia St and South Alabama, lost @Navy
Sagarin: 37
ESPN FPI: 39
Predicted FPI wins: 9.3
Remaining SOS: 76
Points per game (rank): 49.5 (10)
Schedule before UH game: @Tulane, UConn, UCF, @Mizzou, @ECU, Tulsa, @SMU
 
For reference, UH is 45th in Sagarin, 49 in FPI with 9.1 predicted wins, 52.3 ppg (4th) and a remaining schedule of 87. Cincinnati is the only AAC program with a worse remaining SOS.
 
USF and Memphis are toss-up games that could go either way. UH should be heavily favored against the other 6 teams. Those 6 teams have a combined 8-15 record (4 FCS wins, 4 FBS & only 2 OOC).
 
Only two teams on the remaining schedule are in the top 60 in scoring. Three are ranked 100th or worse in scoring. This fact alone should help the UH defensive numbers quite a bit.
 
cover photo by Mario Puente
 

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