UH held on to get a crucial win Saturday at home over UTSA. Psychologically, that would have been a devastating loss but UH did just enough to get the win. At times clunky, Houston’s offense has a long way to go. There are building blocks with Donovan Smith and the wide receivers, but a lot of work ahead for the OL and the running backs.
the daily #34 | 9/3/2023 | Archives
That was a much-needed win for the Cougars. With 42 new scholarship players, we’ve said for weeks that patience from the fans would be key. It wouldn’t look pretty – and it didn’t. Terrible run game, “spotty” play from the QB, and the right side of the line struggled. But it’s a win, and at the end of the year, your record isn’t X and X and an ugly win vs. UTSA.
I did not think UH would win this game, so in my head, they’re already a game up.
In eight quarters in the last two years, not counting the overtimes in 2022, UH beat UTSA 41-38. The difference over 120 minutes is a field goal at the end of the half last night that the Roadrunners gifted UH.
UTSA bottled up Donovan Smith almost immediately, but he escaped an eight-man scrum, got to the sideline, and was willing to take a six-yard loss to stop the clock. But UTSA’s Donyai Taylor pushed him after he was out of bounds, costing his team 15 crucial yards. Jack Martin, having missed one already, knocked a 31-yarder through.
If it were from 46 into the wind, I’m not sure UH would attempt the kick. They might go Hail Mary there. But Taylor’s goof made it a no-brainer and significantly altered the game.
The uniforms looked better in person than on the Internet. When the game was about to start and in the golden hour, they popped.
Frank Harris looked like a guy who had four surgeries in the offseason. He looked like a guy that had been in a wheelchair a few months ago. He looked like a guy who hadn’t practiced much over the last seven months.
It’s remarkable, in a way, that he even played. Much less played 71 snaps. He did a helluva job leading them down the field in the 4th quarter on that 15-play, 94-yard drive. But after that, UH didn’t give the ball back to them.
The play that resulted in the measurement, the replay review, and another measurement was the 10th play of UH’s drive. The Coogs sat on that ball for the last 5:35. That might have been the best drive of the game, honestly.
No defensive penalties. Three turnovers from the defense. Gave up 400+ yards but just two TDs (and they had to go 80 and 94 yards).
UH’s two touchdowns came on short fields, both thanks to Malik Fleming. The punt return was beautiful, and his second INT set UH up at the 35.
Despite UTSA playing UH close twice in the last two years, I have not been impressed by Jeff Traylor’s teams. Last year, 12 men on the field on a 4th and 1 gave UH a first down, leading to Houston’s first touchdown (early 4th). This year, they had the personal foul that led to the field goal, and they lined up over the long snapper on another FG attempt, which led to a TD for the Cougars. None of those three are football plays – they’re just dumb and undisciplined.
UH was the much, much more disciplined team. That sounds so weird I’ll repeat it and put it in bold: UH was the much, much more disciplined team.
Brian Early lost Chidozie Nwankwo and Jamaree Caldwell almost back-to-back early in the game. That’s two of your top three interior linemen. UTSA piled up some yards going right up the middle, but Hakeem Ajijolaiya, Anthony Holmes Jr., and Amipeleasi Langi Jr. were solid.
sacked Donovan Smith but drove him
No matter how upset you are with the performance, and there are legitimate gripes, this is a game that UH would have lost in the past. They did lose it to Texas Tech, Tulane, and Tulsa last year.
Before last night, UH was 1-7 under Dana Holgorsen when scoring 21 or fewer in regulation. Now 2-7, and both of those wins have been over UTSA.