Yanez: the UT game was a glimpse of what UH can be

Yanez: the UT game was a glimpse of what UH can be


UH is starting to trend in the right direction

Ok, Houston. You got something.

Put the officiating aside, I’ll get to that later. The frustrating losses, the Hail Mary win, none of that mattered this past weekend. Saturday’s game against the Texas Longhorns showed everyone something — potential.

the daily #86 | 10/25/2023 | Archives

The potential of what the Houston Cougars football program can indeed be. A packed house—42,812—jammed into TDECU Stadium to watch a matchup that was 22 years in the making and is likely not to happen for decades to come.

Rowdy Houston fans, and albeit a healthy amount of burnt orange folk, witnessed a game that was everything they could have asked for. The Cougars fell behind 21-0, but they fought back. Back-to-back touchdowns to end the half, and the UH faithful were excited as the teams headed for the tunnels.

Donovan Smith encouraging the UH student section // Photo © 2023 by Mario Puente

The UH defense played its butts off. Jamaree Caldwell, Chidozie Nwankwo, David Ugwoegbu, and Nelson Ceaser were disruptors against the vaunted Longhorn offensive line. Houston’s secondary was making reads, anticipating throws, and not allowing big plays. Overall, there just seemed to be a sense of new-found energy that was refreshing.

Houston’s offense was non-existent in the first quarter, but it changed from the second period onward. UH’s offensive line couldn’t run-block whatsoever, and yet, somehow, the Cougars found themselves tied at 21 and again at 24.

The scrappy Joseph Manjack IV always seems to be the one that makes a clutch catch. Samuel Brown is the elusive speedster who can wreck the game with a big play at any given moment. Matthew Golden, who was hellbent on making up for his costly personal foul penalty in the second half, and Dalton Carnes, the walk-on freshman who just makes plays.

They were all led by quarterback Donovan Smith, who, when he locked in, throws a football just about as well as anyone in all of college football.

Ultimately, the game came down to Texas running back CJ Baxter’s 16-yard gallop right down the middle of the UH defense for a score. And the controversial turnover on downs by the UH offense on 4th-and-inches from the 9.5-yard line.

Did the officials botch the call? From all vantage points, yes. It was an awful spot. Stacy Sneed was closer to the 8.5-yard line instead of the 9.5, but that is not what the officials determined. The play call on fourth down was a head-scratcher as well, and it only made the two wasted timeouts in the early third quarter sting that much more for Houston.

But was there a moral victory? As crappy and corny as it may sound, some fans are thrilled with how close they were.

And they should be. The “mighty” Texas Longhorns came into town and disregarded this Cougar team. UT was a 22.5-point favorite heading into the game, but Houston was inches away from the potential upset of the decade.

And while it is good to be content for now, the reality is it just makes the rest of the season that more frustrating. Houston can be on that level. UH should not have lost to Rice and should not have looked so lost in the second halves to Texas Tech and TCU.

Build the program, and the support will come. There were over 300 recruits at the game on Saturday. Hopefully, a good portion of them saw what the Cougars could be and have moved UH up their list.

UH may be a recruiting/transfer class or two away from playing meaningful games like Saturday on a more consistent basis. One thing is for sure, it’s a damn shame that it took 21 years for these programs to play.

If Texas can play Rice every year, then the Longhorns and Cougars should play every year. As a UH alumnus, it is a damn shame that generations of students have been robbed of this rivalry.

Hey hey! It's Andy Yanez

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Andy Yanez
Andy Yanez
Andy Yanez is a Contributing Editor and columnist for GoCoogs.com. He also hosts the weekly Pawd Slama Jama Podcast and Let's Rage Coogs after football and MBB games. In his spare time, he is a teacher and coaches youth basketball.

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