What is UH Football’s most surprising unit in 2023 so far?

Texas Football gets to town today and they’ll do a walk-thought at TDECU before Saturday afternoon’s game. UH players will participate in walk-throughs, and watch film, and perhaps have a short workout.

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Through six games, what unit is the most intriguing/surprising?

Ryan Monceaux (the guy from GoCoogs): As ‘take the easy way out’ as it is, I think it’s the quarterbacks. Donovan Smith has been fantastic in the last three games. Even with a mediocre second half against Tech, he’s 81/107 (75.7%) for 9 TDs and 0 INTs in the last three games.

Before that, in the first three games, he was 63/111 (56.8%) with a 4:3 TD:INT ratio. Does it look like they’re giving him easier reads? Yes. But he’s making the plays. I expected the Donovan Smith from last year at Tech – turnover-prone and making mistakes in big moments. We haven’t seen that Donovan.

Starns Leland (Cougar Sports Editor): Aside from a very bad block against Texas Tech, the punt coverage team has been absolutely stellar.

Laine Wilkins has routinely pinned opponents behind the 20, and the coverage hasn’t allowed a big punt return. In fact, they’ve not allowed many returns, period (24 punts, 10 yards of return, or .42 yards per return).

For what it’s worth, teams whose offense has success against UH this year have had to do it with long drives (yards-wise), which gives the defense more room and opportunity to make a stand and force field goals (bend, don’t break).

Brad Towns (Former UH Athlete): At this point, I really shouldn’t be surprised, but I am surprised by our return teams. In the past, you could chalk it up to having one of the best return men in college history in Marcus Jones. But when you see that in 5 years, UH has had six players return a kickoff or a punt for a touchdown, you realize that UH’s special teams units are doing something right.

Matthew Golden has been great on kickoff returns. He has returned five kicks this year, and two have gone for TDs. Malik Fleming has also been good in the punt return game, averaging 9.2 yards per return, ranking him #24 in the country.

Mark Scott has helped turn the return game into a legitimate weapon. With the offense being as bipolar as it has been, any help is more than welcome

Who will be the unsung hero against UT? Someone that’s not a top-tier name?

Brad: He is not a top-tier name to most, but he is highly regarded here at My “pick to click” is Joseph Manjack. If Dana sticks to, “We’re going to shoot our shot,” then Manjack will have a lot of opportunities to make plays this week.

I expect Texas to bring an intense pass rush, opening up space in the short to mid-distance passing game. Manjack is a big target and operates well in the gaps of a defense. With pressure coming, Donovan Smith must get the ball out quickly, and Manjack will be an ideal outlet.

Ryan: It will have to be a defender that makes tackles. Someone who is stopping UT backs before they get 5-6-7 yards. I’m going with GoCoogs’ favorite linebacker, Jamal Morris. Morris has been playing at a high level and has been tackling pretty well. The former OU defensive back gets his first and only shot at UT, and I expect he will be a rock in the middle.

Starns: A.J. Haulcy. Texas running back Jonathon Brooks will get a lot of rush yards against this UH defense. Stone-cold stopping them is unrealistic, so the Cougars must be able to bend but not break. And the guy responsible for holding the back line will be safety A.J. Haulcy, who came up with 15 tackles last week against West Virginia. If Houston steps up defensively on Saturday, it will be partly because ‘Mr. Give Me That’ keeps Brooks and that UT run game from getting past the second level.

Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers, is proud to be a corporate sponsor as the Official Personal Injury Law Firm for the University of Houston Athletics.

“As a University of Houston alum, I am honored that the University of Houston Athletics chose our firm to be their official and exclusive personal injury law firm,” says Stewart J. Guss, the firm’s founder.