Can The Cougar Defense Stop The Rebuilt Sooners?
On September 1, the Cougars begin the Dana Holgorsen era at Oklahoma in Norman. It’s the return game of the 2016 opener at NRG – the game that shot UH into the national conversation. Six Cougars that played in the game will go to Norman as seniors, most of whom should start.
Dana Holgerson makes his debut against a team he knows quite well. Holgorsen faced OU seven times while he was the head coach at West Virginia but lost each game. His defense held the Sooners under 44 points just once, a 16-7 loss at OU in 2013.
Holgorsen getting his feet wet against a likely #4 team in the country is markedly different from other UH coaches this century. Major Applewhite opened against Arizona, a team coming off a 3-9 season. Herman faced FCS Tennessee Tech while his predecessor Levine got Texas State in their first-ever FBS game. Sumlin faced FCS Southern while Dimel and Briles each opened their UH careers vs. Rice.
The OU offense was the most prolific in the country last year. The numbers look overwhelming when compared to a Cougar defense that was in the bottom 10-15 in most categories. It’s not a pretty picture:
OU Offense Vs. UH Defense: A Comparison
|Statistic||OU Offensive Rank||UH Defensive Rank|
|3rd Down %||4||120|
|TDs By Unit||2||123|
|Yards Per Play||1||111|
|Yards Per Completion||5||114|
If you’re looking for good news against the OU offense, here are 3 nuggets of hope:
- Kyler Murray and four starting OL (all 5 in the NFL) are gone from the 2018 team. Murray, of course, won the Heisman while the departed OL combined for 55 (out of a possible 56) starts at the two guard and tackle spots. That’s a lot of quality production lost. The OL loses three All-Big 12 first-team selections, including a consensus All-American, and a second-team left tackle.
- New starting QB Jalen Hurts has won a lot of games but most of those were thanks to the Bama defense. Alabama gave up just 12.7 ppg in his 28 starts – 356 total points. To compare, OU has given up 350 points in their last 9 games. He’s never had the burden put on him to win games and is unproven in this offense.
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