The numbers behind another brutal UH loss

The brain isn’t really on football today. But a few things I wrote down last night – and some numbers – about the state of the Houston Cougar program.

the daily #104 | 11/12/2023 | Archives

Misjudged? After every loss, Dana Holgorsen seems unsure of what happened, but he says he thought his team was ready each time. It seems he’s not getting through to the players. That’s concerning. Getting beat is one thing. Everyone gets beat. Getting your ass kicked is one thing, too. Everybody takes a beating sometime.

But players not responding to you? And the head coach not understanding the psyche of his team? That’s a red flag.

Last night, in his press conference, Dana said in his opening statement, “I thought we were ready to go. Gosh dang, coming off a good win last week. It’s just life in the Big 12.

“I mean, I don’t know, maybe there’s a subconscious thing in our players’ heads. Coaches, players, me, whatever. (Cincinnati is) coming in 2-7, you know, lost seven straight.”

He’s said a variation of that several times this year after games and in Monday press conferences. So I asked him a simple question:

“How do you misjudge how ready your team is?”

Here’s his response:

“You’re asking a question that nobody has answers to,” he said. “You don’t know.”


“You can’t figure that out. I’m sorry, I don’t have an answer to that. I thought we were ready to go.”

Disconnect. There is a disconnect between where he thinks his team is leading up to a game and where they are once they get on the field. The start of games have been embarrassing, and predictable, on both sides of the ball.

Houston opening drives:

UTSA – 3 plays, 1 yard, PUNT
Rice – 4 plays, 11 yards, INTERCEPTION
TCU – 7 plays, 48 yards, FG
SHSU – 13 plays, 69 yards, FG
Texas Tech – 12 plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
WVU – 6 plays, 33 yards, PUNT
Texas – 3 plays, -4 yards, PUNT
Kansas St – 7 plays, 31 yards, PUNT
Baylor – 3 plays, 3 yards, PUNT
Cincinnati – 4 plays, 7 yards, PUNT

10 opening drives, 62 plays, 274 yards, one touchdown, 13 points, 6 punts, and an interception.

Compare that to UH opponents.

Opponent opening drives:

UTSA – 3 plays, -1 yard, PUNT
Rice – 10 plays, 78 yards, TOUCHDOWN
TCU – 6 plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
SHSU – 7 plays, 83 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Tech – 12 plays, 74 yards, TOUCHDOWN
WVU – 16 plays, 82 yards, FG
Texas – 11 plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Kansas St – 12 plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN
Baylor – 12 plays, 43 yards, MISSED FG
Cincinnati – 11 plays, 75 yards, TOUCHDOWN

10 opening drives, 100 plays, 659 yards, 7 touchdowns, 52 total points, and one punt.

After one drive on offense and defense, you’re down an average of four points per game. UH has punted on the opening drive in five-straight games. Dana has harped on imploring his team to start fast for two seasons. To be ready to play from the opening kick. But that’s not happening.

Cincinnati and Houston in an actual pillow fight // Photo © 2023 by Mario Puente

Numbers and More Numbers. UH is 3-0 when not allowing an opening touchdown and 1-6 when they do. SHSU was the only win, but the opening drive was Sam’s first points as an FBS member.

In the last three games, Donovan Smith is 50/83 (60.2%), for 426 yards, 4 TDs, 6 INTs, and three sacks. He’s rushed 38 times for 157 yards (4.13 ypc) and a score.

In 10 games, UH has scored 28 or fewer points seven times. UH is 2-1 when scoring 29+ and 2-5 when scoring 28 or fewer.

In regulation, Houston has scored 14 offensive touchdowns in seven Big 12 games.

Since the touchdown to start the second half against Texas, UH has played 207 minutes and 29 seconds, or nearly 3.5 games, in regulation. In that time, they’ve scored 34 points, roughly five points a half.

Offensive TDs in regulation, by game:
2 – UTSA
4 – Rice
0 – TCU
5 – SHSU
4 – Tech
5 – WVU
3 – Texas
0 – Kansas State
2 – Baylor
2 – Cincinnati

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