The Cougars took care of business on Saturday, but there are still plenty of concerns surrounding the program as it enters the bulk of its Big 12 conference schedule.
the daily #58 | 9/27/2023 | Archives
Cheers! Before getting into any of them, all the praise must rightfully go to the Coogs for the win. Houston did what it was expected to do. It dominated a team that, quite frankly, is nowhere near the Coogs’ level at this point.
A big reason for that success was freshman running back Parker Jenkins. The Klein Forest High School product started for the first time. He took the ball and ran with it, then ran with it some more, ran over a couple of Bearkats here and there, and then continued running!
Jenkins had three rushing touchdowns, his first three ever as a college athlete, and rushed for 105 yards against Sam Houston.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Jenkins has been a bright spot in the black hole that has been the Houston offense. His playing time has steadily increased each week, and seeing the young star dominate was awesome.
Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen was also thrilled with receiver Matthew Golden, who put together his best game against Sam Houston.
The sophomore caught nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, which came on a beautiful rainbow pass from quarterback Donovan Smith that allowed Golden to run right underneath the ball for the catch.
To keep the positives going, the defense shut down Sam Houston for essentially 57 minutes of the game. Of course, there was at least one headache because Houston loves to add needless stress.
That stress came on Sam Houston’s first drive when the Bearkats marched down the field, scored their first touchdown at the FBS level, and made it easy.
While that defensive drive “made me want to throw up,” Dana Holgorsen said, I’m sure there was no pun intended or an attempt to make fun of offensive lineman Reuben Unije. Thankfully for Dana’s digestive track, the defense dominated the rest of the game.
Houston even got its first look at a different quarterback, JUCO transfer Ui Ale, which is somewhat of a surprise because of the “QB battle” during the summer between Smith and Lucas Coley.
Ale’s UH debut saw one close your eyes throw on a trick play where Smith pitched it back to Ale, who then threw a deep shot into double coverage that should have been intercepted. Ale went into the game at QB later in the game and, on his first throw, hit running back Stacy Sneed in stride on a quick slant that turned into a 58-yard touchdown.
The bottom line is that Sam Houston was a much-needed “get right game.” Houston did what it was supposed to and put the game away by halftime. However, it’s not time to shout great F-ing win just yet.
Still Some Concerns. Despite the lopsided score, there were plenty of issues that could and likely will rear their ugly heads next week in Lubbock and for the rest of the conference schedule.
The first issue is the dumb penalties. When the Bearkats scored their lone touchdown of the game, they were aided by a roughing the passer penalty on David Ugwoegbu. Houston was also flagged for an offsides penalty on Anthony Holmes Jr. Despite Sam Houston declining it, Hasaan Hypolite was flagged for pass interference, giving UH three penalties on the first defensive drive alone.
Houston also gifted Sam Houston an extra set of downs on a running into the kicker penalty by Sam Brown in the third quarter. Overall, the Cougars were flagged 11 times for 95 yards. Against the Bearkats, it did not matter. Against a Big 12 opponent, it will get them beat.
The second big issue was Houston’s time management to end the first half. Already leading 24-7, the Cougars had a chance to at least kick a field goal to extend the advantage to 20 points.
Houston snapped the ball with seven seconds left in the half, and Smith looked to his intended receiver, and he was not open. What Smith was supposed to do next was throw the ball away, Holgorsen said postgame. What Smith did instead was hold onto it as the seconds tick-tick-ticked off the clock. When he finally made a throw, it fell incomplete, and the clock had expired.
“We work on that every Thursday … I’m glad this one didn’t get us, and we will learn from that and re-emphasize from it,” Holgorsen told reporters after the win.
For an offense that has struggled to find points through most of the season, leaving any off the scoreboard is a death sentence come Big 12 play. Regardless, the win was good for Houston. Now comes the rest.
The season could sink without crisper play with eight Big 12 Conference games left. Or, perhaps, it could take a turn for the better. Maybe UH has some surprises still in store for 2023.
The issues must be cleaned up or it will be a long season. For at least one week, though, Houston fans can be satisfied and, dare I say, even optimistic with the performance of Jenkins and the rest of the Cougars against Sam Houston.