Through 5 games, let’s look at 5 parts of this Cougar football team where expectations are being met or exceeded:
QB – B+
D’Eriq King has done almost everything you’ve asked of him. He understands the offense, he makes good reads, and he runs the ball pretty well. King has taken to the Briles offense and brings a steady hand to a vital position.
The reason he’s a “B+” instead of an A are the 3 INTs in the last two games (he also fumbled but recovered one in the TSU game). I want my QB to protect the ball at all times.
Offensive production – A
And it’s almost an A+. Number 3 in scoring offense (five games – 5 times over 40 points). #1 in the country in total offense. Ninth in rushing offense. 15th in passing offense.
I have a slight bone of contention, though: red zone scoring. We are at 85% which puts us 64th – right in the middle of teams in the country. Rice converts on 85% of red zone chances, too. We are 20th in red zone chances so the average doesn’t kill us as much as it might others. But again, this is a small issue.
OL – A+
By far the best unit on the field in 2018 and certainly the most improvement from last year. Randy Clements and his scheme have been brilliant and he deserves a ton of praise.
The Coogs are 8th in the country in tackles for loss allowed. And the OL has allowed just 1 sack – tied for 1st in the nation. Last season, teams averaged 1.4 sacks per game against the OL. Big congrats to that group.
Run Game – A+
Thanks to that great OL and better coaching (Clements is run game coordinator as well), the Coogs are averaging 6.7 yards per carry (4.5 ypc in 2017). Houston is on-pace to hit nearly 3200 rush yards in the regular season – 1200 more than the full 2017 total.
Every rusher with 10 attempts or more is averaging at least 5.9 ypc.
Run Defense – A
The run defense has been very solid this year. UH is 43rd in rush defense (3rd in AAC), 28th in tackles for loss (4th), and 23rd in 4th-down conversions given up (2nd).
The best rush attacks the Cougars will face in 2018 are still to come: Navy is #2 in the country and Memphis is 7th. Of the FBS teams UH has played: Tulsa is 37th, Arizona is 40th, Tech is 62nd, and Rice is 67th in rush offense. UH has held all 5 opponents below their season average in rushing yards.
A stat the NCAA doesn’t track but should: yards per rush. UH is 14th in the country (#1 in AAC) in yards given up per rush (3.0). I think that’s a more important number than rush yards per game.
All Photos Courtesy Of Mario Puente
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