The UCF game: A bad end to Dana’s bad tenure

UH’s season mercifully ended on Saturday, another disappointing loss in a season full of them. Thankfully, for UH fans, it ended the five-year nightmare of Dana Holgorsen. He was fired Sunday morning.

In the UCF game, the Cougars came out firing. It was the best drive UH has put together in weeks. The opening drive resulted in a touchdown and went eight plays and 75 yards. WOW!

But then UH had 74 yards in the second half. Total.

the daily #118 | 11/26/2023 | Archives

How bad was that second half? The Cougars ran 22 plays (I can’t find a half where UH ran fewer), were 0/5 on 3rd down, ran it 12 times for 8 yards, had four penalties, and punted twice – for 25 and 35 yards.

Despite the scoreboard showing a 14-point loss, anyone who saw the game knew it was never competitive. That was the theme of Houston’s 2023 season: despite an administration and head coach bragging about a competitive team, they were not.

The last six weeks of the season were particularly galling. After the miracle Hail Mary against WVU, UH completely fell apart. The Cougars went 1-5 down the stretch, only an OT win at Baylor saving them a one-win Big 12 debut.

The highlight of those last six weeks was the moral victory against Texas. Ya Woo!

UH averaged 309.8 yards per game in the second half of the season and 17.67 ppg (16.3 if you don’t include the 8 points in overtime in Waco). UH scored over 30 points once in the second half of the season, in the final home game against Oklahoma State.

In the second half of games, UH scored 10-0-10-7-7-3 in those final six games. That’s 37 second-half points in six weeks.

After the staff had time to make adjustments at halftime, UH scored 10 points in the 3rd quarter of the final six games. Houston was outscored 48-10 in the 3rd quarter of those games. They were shut out in the last three games in the third quarter (outscored 27-0) and scored only 3 points in the final five games (outscored 45-3).

The touchdown to open the 3rd quarter against Texas was the only 3rd quarter TD in the second half of the season. In fact, since the TCU game, here are UH’s outputs in 3Q:

0 – TCU
7 – SHSU
0 – Tech
7 – WVU
7 – Texas
0 – Kansas St
3 – Baylor
0 – Cincinnati
0 – Oklahoma State
0 – UCF

That’s 24 total points in the last 10 third quarters.

Where are your adjustments? Where is your “offensive genius” coaching, as the FS1 broadcast referred to yesterday? UH finished 12th in Big 12 games in scoring.

Houston did not break 24 offensive points in regulation in the last six games (UH scored 30 against Oklahoma State, but eight came via a safety and a pick-six).

UH finished 105 or worse in 13 national categories (out of 42). But the slide from midseason to the end is most alarming. Here are the national rankings after six games and national rankings after the conclusion of the regular season:

After 6 gamesAfter 12 games
3rd downs conversions3587
1st down defense89120
1st down offense6486
Kickoff returns1237
Net punting 3551
Passes intercepted2973
Passed had intercepted14101
Punt returns 6692
Red zone defense 7854
Rushing offense93105
Sacks allowed9783
Scoring offense6488
Team sacks10556
Team TFL8671
Time of possession79117
Turnover margin873
Turnovers gained4593
Turnovers lost245

These are stats with movement of 10+ spots – not all of UH’s bad national stats. Surprisingly, sacks allowed improvement, and red zone defense improved. Team sacks and team TFL also improved, but everything else? Yeesh.


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