“Let’s line up and see,” Holgorsen says

“Let’s line up and see,” Holgorsen says


Ready or not, the 2023 college football season is here. On Saturday, the Houston Cougars football team seeks to make a statement when it hosts UTSA at TDECU Stadium.

Whether it goes really well for UH or the Roadrunners come into town and meep, meep away with a win, the game will set the tone for the rest of the season.

After a year-plus of celebration from Houston about joining the Big 12 Conference, and rightfully so, the first test the team will face is coincidentally against a new American Athletic Conference school, which is the league that UH spent the past decade wishing it was in the Power Five.

Heading into the 2023 athletics calendar, there has been a lot of excitement about jumping to the Autonomy Five conference (can we officially say Autonomy Four yet?).

There has been enthusiasm for the volleyball program, only unwavering eagerness for the men’s basketball season, and even the UH soccer team has gotten off to an impressive start in its inaugural Big 12 season.

For football, however, the intrigue has been subdued. After a disappointing 8-5 season last year, fans don’t know what to expect from Dana Holgorsen’s program. If anything, they are expecting a rough season, and guess what, the Houston head coach is well aware of that.

“Nobody thinks we are any good, so let’s line up and see,” Holgorsen said in his first weekly news conference of the season. “We are underdogs at home. Can’t wait, looking forward to 6.”

The Cougars are underdogs at home for their season opener. As of Tuesday, UTSA is a 1.5-point favorite for the game, according to the Action Network. The Roadrunners, who lost some offensive weapons, return seventh-year super-senior Frank Harris as its starting quarterback.

On the other hand, Houston has many new faces up and down the roster. The most noticeable addition is quarterback Donovan Smith, the transfer from Texas Tech, who will be the day-one starter and will be tasked with leading the reins after four years of Clayton Tune.

Holgorsen said his team is in a good place heading into Saturday. He feels like this year’s UH team is equipped with better depth than it did not have in 2022.

The running backs group is a solid four deep with Tony Mathis, Brandon Campbell, Stacy Sneed, and Parker Jenkins. Holgorsen said that the receiver group is stacked and led by Matthew Golden, Sam Brown, and Joseph Manjack IV, who had the strongest camp out of all receivers.

The defensive backs are set, and most of the team’s veteran leaders are among the offensive and defensive lines, which Holgorsen is thrilled about.

There is cautious optimism about the program. Houston has already sold the most tickets for the season opener since Holgorsen has taken over the program, the head coach said on Monday. That would mean the Cougars have sold more than 30,317 tickets. That figure was from last season’s home opener against Kansas, the current high watermark for attendance under Holgorsen.

“Fan day was encouraging,” Holgorsen said. “Cage Rage was encouraging. This is what Houston has always wanted.”

With the Big 12 conference opener just weeks away, how much exhilaration remains for the football season will be determined on Saturday. Some people will take notice if Houston looks great and comes away with a win against UTSA. If the Cougars fall flat, the air in the balloon will begin to escape, and the complaints from fans will begin.

The time for talk is over. Football is back. How the roller coaster of the 2023 season goes, we are about to find out.

“I’ve realized what my part is, put a good product on [the field],” Holgorsen said. “That is my job, and I am anxious to see what that looks like Saturday … Being in the Big 12, there are a lot of exciting things around here right now, so hopefully, we can get a lot of people to support the Coogs.”

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Andy Yanez
Andy Yanez
Andy Yanez is a Contributing Editor and columnist for GoCoogs.com. He also hosts the weekly Pawd Slama Jama Podcast and Let's Rage Coogs after football and MBB games. In his spare time, he is a teacher and coaches youth basketball.

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