UH is readying to play the 11th football game of the season, and we still do not know the identity of this team. We had no clue what they were in pre-season, couldn’t figure it out a few games into the season, and now, we are still clueless. But maybe they’ve told us all year, and we haven’t believed it.
Maybe their identity is a bad football team.
the daily #107 | 11/15/2023 | Archives
Hints have been dropped along the way, and a few big ones stood out in the post-game press conference after the Cincinnati game. Here are five choice quotes from Dana:
“When we came in, I thought we were ready to go coming off a good win last week.”
“I thought we were ready to go. We were locked in on Thursday and Friday. You know, it didn’t look good. It’s Big 12 football. It’s going to be hard every week.”
“Our receivers were bad, but a lot of blame goes to me at the end of the day. I’m the one running it, so I’m going to fix that.”
“There’s nothing we can do about it, so other guys need to step up. We got, I think, eight other scholarship receivers. Where are they at? I mean, we have eight other scholarship receivers. Where are they at? Why are they not improving, and why are they not ready to play yet. Those are the questions I got.”
“If they [overlooked Cincinnati], then I have failed as a head coach because we talked all week about respecting your opponent. They are a dangerous team.”
This sort of stuff has become pretty repetitive from Dana the last two seasons while going on a run of 12 wins and 11 losses.
The part of that presser that stood out to me was when Joseph Manjack spoke:
“They played harder than us. I think they had a great game plan. Cincinnati fought hard, and they just wanted it more than we did. I wouldn’t be able to tell you why they played very hard, and we didn’t play hard enough to come up with a win.”
I read that in the press conference transcription and had to go back and pull up the video to watch it. Credit to Manjack for saying that. But this stood out because it brought back the memory of Dana’s press conference after losing to Rice.
“I sensed it Wednesday that it meant more to them than it did to us,” Dana said then. It also brought back when Dana said that the Kansas State game didn’t make sense.
Back in September, I had a hard time believing players could take an opponent for granted. Especially a local rival. I am having an even harder time believing that this team would overlook a Cincinnati team that had pounded UH each time they played under this coaching staff.
The Bearcats were on a 7-game losing streak, and UH was coming off a bounce-back road win against Baylor. A bowl game was on the line and within reach, and it was Homecoming, too. This was the perfect setting to get things right and prove this team was improving.
And then they went out and got rolled. Don’t let the score fool you, UH was completely dominated by a 2-7 team. It is one thing to lose, it is another to get outworked and outfought on the field. Especially at home. Houston is now 14-12 at home under Holgorsen, 12-12 vs. FBS teams.
A loss Saturday against Oklahoma State and Holgorsen would be sub-.500 vs. FBS teams at home. His predecessor Major Applewhite – fired after two years because the program was in shambles – was 9-3 at home (8-3 vs. FBS teams).
Sometimes teams are just more talented, and there is not much you can do to beat them. But no UH team should overlook anyone, and they should never have an opponent play harder or want it more.
That is wholly unacceptable by players and it is unacceptable that this continued lack of wanting and effort can be accepted by the coaching staff.
The emergence of Dalton Carnes may highlight the issue as well. A 5’9”, 175-pound freshman walk-on has forced his way into the rotation at WR (he has started the last three games due to injuries to Manjack and Matthew Golden).
Dana asked, “Where are (the wide receivers) at?” in Saturday’s press conference. After bragging about the depth of the WR corps all off-season, he’s now throwing them under the bus. He needs to figure out where they are; he is paid way too much not to know the answer. His celebrated group is getting outworked by the little walk-on. How are these guys allowing themselves to get beat out?
This is just a microcosm of the issue. Everything this season tells me that this team is a collection of guys who think they are a lot better than what they are. They are guys who are willing to put in enough work just to get by, and everything else should just go their way. There are very few consequences for lackluster play or half-assed execution because the names on the scoresheet are the same every week.
They’ve accepted the habits of their head coach. Dana Holgorsen does just enough to get by, and there have been few, if any, consequences for it. That’s the identity of this football team, too.