The Houston Cougars continued the lethargic, uninspired play that has been the overriding theme of the 2022 season. At home, facing a third-string, redshirt-freshman quarterback, UH lost to Tulane in overtime, 27-24.
It was as bad as it sounds.
The unimaginative play-calling, the inability to create space on offense, the lack of urgency from the offense, the incessant penalties, the gaffes, and the meltdowns define the program that many pegged as the G5 team most likely to make the NY6.
Where did all of that go?
Houston has now lost to Texas Tech, Kansas, and Tulane. While all three are much better than their historical norms, none have recruited at a level far beyond the Cougars.
In losing to the Green Wave, UH made an instant legend out of Kai Horton, Tulane’s 3rd string quarterback. The Carthage native returned to his home state and took advantage of a huge opportunity. Good for him – horrific for Houston.
The script remained the same as it has been all season: a slow start offensively, drive-killing penalties, a late drive by the opponent, and UH getting outplayed and outcoached.
A few scattered, random thoughts:
You cannot go three-and-out in overtime. You cannot take the ball and be that unimaginative in overtime.
Dana has repeatedly said he does not care what outsiders think, but his behavior on the sideline is now a national story. It reflects poorly on UH, especially at the end of regulation when it appeared he was reacting to fans booing.
That 4th-down shovel pass showed great coaching and players ready for their moment. It was a great play call.
Until Peyton Sawyer ran the last kickoff back from the six-yard line, had UH returned any kick all night? No, they had not. Tulane did not have a touchback all night, but every kick was fair caught with quite a bit of daylight in front of him.
How is your best play on 3rd and 3 in OT a pass to a backup TE? Trahan is in the slot, and Byrnes lined up as an H back, goes out into the flat. Tune has at least 7 seconds to get rid of this ball – maybe the longest of his career.
He never sees Sneed to his right, and he lasers in on #82, who is fighting the boundary and is double-covered. Byrnes was open early in the play, but it was way too late by the time Tune committed.
Kai Horton threw some dimes. The TD he threw in the second quarter, the one his receiver dropped in the end zone. Those are not the throws made by a guy that had no meaningful playing time before tonight.
With five years and three months left on his contract, Dana Holgorsen is not getting fired. There are no conversations among UH higher-ups discussing this anywhere. As of Saturday, October 1, Dana is owed nearly $19.5 million. 2023, 2024, and 2025 are all guaranteed in full – that’s over $13,000,000 before the 60% he is owed for 2026 and 2027.
It’s not happening.
The defense is not to blame for tonight. Tulane had 248 yards and 14 offensive points in regulation. A generic team giving up those numbers should win about 99.9% of the time.
UH had only 9 penalties – the lowest of the year. But two are particularly galling and came in the last drive of regulation: the hold on Paul on the QB draw with 22 seconds left, followed by a timeout to calm the team and (presumably) to call two plays, followed by a floating pass to Trahan in the flat that was dropped, then the virtually impossible delay of game. The offense broke the huddle with 19 seconds left on the play clock, yet they still took a delay.
That. Cannot. Happen.
The head coach has to see it; the play-caller has to see it; the quarterback has to see it. There was way too much confusion among Trahan and Dell. And Tune was telling Freeman not to snap it as the play clock expired.
The home schedule is halfway over, and UH is 1-2 at home. So that’s 9-8 under Holgorsen at home and 7-8 vs. FBS teams.
UH is 19-18 vs. FBS opponents under Holgorsen.
In regulation, UH had the ball for almost 37 minutes and ran 78 plays. And scored three touchdowns.
Clayton Tune has been a better QB, and the offense is crisper when tempo has been used. The first drive of the second half vs. Rice is the perfect example: four plays, 75 yards, 1:46 TOP.
I’m tired of Aaron Judge ABs. When did an American League record become national, game-interrupting news?
On 3rd and 1 deep in their own territory, the UniversitYankees' Aaron Judge fouls one off. pic.twitter.com/xIKr7xN0bd
— GoCoogs.com (@gocoogs1) September 30, 2022
Tired of sitting in a stadium thinking that the UH opponent – the QB, the scheme, the offense – is fun to watch. Eventually, that has to be the Cougars. Right?