BREAKING: UH is dangerously close to actually playing

Dennis Bardwell working at right tackle / Courtesy UHCougars.com

Well, here we are.

The season should have started 35 days ago against the Rice Owls. By the time the Owls backed out, Wazzu had already canceled game #2. Memphis had an outbreak and the third game was pushed back thanks to UH signing a contract for game #4 with Baylor. Then Baylor canceled 23 hours before game time due to an outbreak on their OL, and just for fun, opponent #5 UNT deleted themselves on September 23rd.

Five scheduled games, five cancelations. Thankfully, the off-week gave us time to appreciate the LOL failures of the Horns, the Aggies, Baylor, and Texas Tech.

Dana Holgorsen says UH comes into the game with a fully healthy roster. Just like any other game played this year, it will be interesting to see who plays tonight and who might not.

The Series

UH is 15-7 against Tulane since C-USA play began 1996. But the Coogs are just 3-3 in the last six games. Before that? Houston had won 10 in a row by an average of 26 ppg.

Tulane coach Willie Fritz is 2-2 against the Coogs – the best record for any Wave coach against UH since Tommy Bowden in 1997-1998 (2-0). Each of Tony Levine, Major Applewhite, and Dana Holgorsen have a loss to the Greenies – Major and Dana in their first attempts. Tony Levine’s 2014 blunder is the only time UH has lost at home to Tulane since 2002.

The Coogs

What should we expect out of UH?

Patience. If the Coogs come out too jacked up thanks to the season’s delay, Tulane could pop them. If the Cougars come out steady and move the ball early, I’ll feel a lot better. Still, Willie Fritz is a damn good second-half coach.

Fast starts don’t necessarily matter against Fritz. Recall last year’s game where the Coogs scored on the first play – Marquez Stevenson sprung a short sideline pass for a 75-yard touchdown.

Of course, the Cougars were up 28-7 early in the 2nd quarter before the wheels fell off of the in the 4th quarter, then again at the end of the game, then for the season, and then the whole next year.

I am most interested to see how this offensive line works together. Is there cohesion? Does Clayton Tune have time to throw it? Are there holes for what should be a solid running attack? The starting group of Paul-Murphy-Freeman-Jones-Bardwell has to be ready for a pretty good Tulane front six.

Skill player that I’m watching: Kyle Porter. Does he step up and take control of the running game?

Kyle Porter scores against PV / Photo by Mario Puente

The Green Wave

Tulane comes into the game 2-1 but with an entirely different-looking offense than their last start. Senior QB Keon Howard was benched in the USM game for true freshman Michael Pratt and Pratt will start tonight.

Pratt entered the USM game down 14-7 and was at the helm as Tulane outscored the Golden Eagles 59-10 over the last three quarters. His numbers were pedestrian (9/19, 142 yards) but he didn’t turn it over and everyone played well around him. That’s key.

In addition to the new QB, Tulane lost RB Tyjae Spears for the year in the USM game. Spears had scored TU’s first two TDs of the day before suffering an ACL injury. Tonight, watch for #20 sophomore Cam Carroll – he’ll get the bulk of the work out of the backfield. He didn’t play in the game last year.

It’s pretty standard but I expect the Cougar defense to stack the box and dare Pratt to throw. You have to feel pretty good that the UH defensive backfield can match-up with Tulane’s receivers.

Longtime UH commit Adonis Friloux is getting some limited playing time for the Green Wave. He has one TFL.

The Coogs are currently a 6.5-point favorite with an O/U of 59.5. The over has scored very well all season long but I just can’t get myself to pull the trigger on this one.
 

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