Offensive Changes Didn’t Work Until Memphis Changed

Through three quarters against Memphis, the Cougar offense was terrible once again. For some people, the win might mask many of the deficiencies, but this is a season-long issue that was not resolved.

To be clear, Dana Holgorsen said the “offensive philosophy” would change, and it did: much less running, much more throwing. UH’s early-game script showed they were intent on throwing the ball: 16 of the first 20 plays were dropbacks.

Memphis stayed in a four-man defensive front for most of the game. Whether planned or taking what the Tigers gave them, Tune had more time to throw, and the Cougars used that to take more shots downfield. Coming into the game, Tune was 23/49 (46.9%) beyond ten yards but threw 26 passes beyond ten against Memphis, finishing 12/26 (46.2%).

Memphis knew that if you discard the 2021 numbers, Tune is a 47.5% passer beyond 10 yards since Dana arrived (122/257). And they certainly knew that he was 11/27 (40.7%) in their last three meetings. So they were more than happy to let him go deep. Friday, he threw one less pass over 10 yards than he had in the last three games combined against them.

Here are his career numbers beyond 10 yards under Dana Holgorsen:

YearComp/AttComp %TD/INT

Tune threw it 57 times in the game – one more than in the Kansas and Rice games combined. It was the most passing attempts in his career and the most for UH since Tom Herman’s last game (at Memphis, 2016). However, the new offensive plan did not change the results until the final four minutes, when Memphis switched to a three-man front.

What else changed in the 4th quarter? Penalties. UH had only one penalty: a roughing the passer call on the quarter’s first play. Before the Memphis game, UH was averaging 3.8 penalties in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, running backs had 16 carries in the game for 77 yards, capped by Campbell’s 34-yard run in the second quarter. UH’s 15 other RB carries went for a yard less (33) than that long run and averaged 2.2 ypc. Campbell, Sneed, and Tune averaged 4.2 ypc for the game and 2.86 ypc other than the 34-yarder.

The 21 rushing attempts were the fewest for UH since the BYU game in Provo in 2014. So with more passes than any game in the last six years, and fewer rushes than any in the last eight, Dana’s offensive changes materialized. But again, the results did not. Houston is averaging 27 ppg this year in regulation and the offense scored…27 points on Friday.

The Cougars scored just seven points in the first three quarters.

UH has had three straight weeks of 7 or fewer points through three quarters. There’s starting slow, and then there’s that. The weirdest stat of the year: The Cougars have scored 48 points in the first halves of games in 2022 (8 ppg), tied for 114th nationally. In six games, UH has scored 82 points in the first three quarters combined and 80 points in the 4th quarter (13.3 ppg), which is fourth nationally.

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