Cougar rush defense is shutting down everyone

Jayce Rogers stops SMU running back Tre Siggers / Photo by Mario Puente

In the first four weeks of the season, UH’s opponents averaged 128.5 ypg on the ground and the Coogs were 55th nationally in rush defense. The last four weeks? 64 ypg rushing given up; UH has slashed opponents’ rushing in half. SMU was the fourth-straight game that UH has held an opponent under 100 yards rushing (and 5th out of 6 games). Teams are running for two yards a carry in the last four weeks (256 yards on 125 carries).

The Cougars are now #10 nationally in rush defense. More on the rush defense for subscribers below.

UH was efficient early, scoring 19 points on 17 plays in the first quarter. Then SMU became the efficient ones: they scored 27 points on 21 plays in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. UH scored 13 points on 46 plays in the same span.

Houston has thrown for 4+ TDs in 15 games against FBS opponents in the last decade. The Cougars are just 7-8 in those games yet three of the wins came against ranked teams.

#16 SMU 2021 (4 passing TDs)
#20 USF 2018 (5)
#15 Navy 2015 (4)

Tune’s 412 yards passing is the most by a UH QB since that USF game in 2018.

Marcus Jones scoring on kickoff return TDs in back-to-back weeks is impressive. But he’s still got a ways to go for the NCAA record: four-straight games with a kick return TD. Tulsa’s Ashlan Davis did it in 2004 against Boise, Nevada, Rice, and SMU in their last year in the WAC before joining C-USA.

That’s a helluva record.

Talking to UH coaches, they believed all of last week that the Coogs would be able to stop SMU’s two-pronged running game. Aiding that was SMU’s in-game decision to abandon the balanced attack they’d established all season.

A big momentum shift was the 46-yard run nullified by Mordecai’s knee going down on a bad snap. The Mustangs lost 51 yards on the play and went from goal-to-go at the UH 3-yard line back into their own territory. After the replay reversal, it was 2nd and 15 and an obvious passing situation. But Doug Belk had his defense keyed for the run and below you can see Jayce Rogers and Donavan Mutin pointing out the run indicator before the snap then combining for the tackle:

Even after coming back to tie the game, SMU never…

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