Just some rambling thoughts on a defense that, until Tulsa imploded, couldn’t get a stop:
The Good, The Bad, & The D’Onofrio
- Payton Turner is thriving off the 1-on-1’s created by Ed Oliver’s presence in the middle. Carter and Chambers are largely non-factors. Turner has 24 tackles this year while Carter & Chambers have combined for 25 total.
- UH had 4 sacks on the night with 3 coming in the 4th quarter comeback.
- Mark D’Onofrio would probably call that defensive four-quarter performance a quality outing. His defense held Tulsa to 4 FG’s in the red zone. Bend, bend, bend but don’t break. Please ignore Tulsa’s 88 plays and 35:38 TOP.
- UH couldn’t get off the field for 3 quarters against a team with a first-time starter at QB and another at RB. Lends credence to Major’s claim that he doesn’t want to put anything on film. We haven’t shown anything on defense so far.
- The next sack Oliver gets in 2018 will be his 1st.
- Opponents are averaging 88 plays per game. And every FBS opponent has had at least 35 minutes of TOP.
- Tulsa’s 426 yards and 26 points are their highest outputs vs FBS. This while on the road in a QB’s 1st college action and the starting RB out.
- Coming into the game Tulsa averaged 390.5 YPG (84th nationally) and 24 PPG (100th).
- In the 3rd quarter Tulsa had the ball for 12:02 on six 1st downs. They were 3-5 on 3rd and 1-1 on 4th.
- Tulsa ran 28 plays vs 5 for UH in the 3rd quarter.
- Tulsa had 174 yards compared to UH’s 7 in the 3rd.
- And UH is 2nd to last in total plays allowed and total plays per game in the country.
Time of Possession by Quarter
Rice – 39:57
1st – 8:17
2nd – 10:02
3rd – 13:16
4th – 8:22
Arizona – 35:21
1st – 9:16
2nd – 8:21
3rd – 8:37
4th – 9:07
Texas Tech – 35:38
1st – 8:58
2nd – 11:18
3rd – 5:44
4th – 9:38
Tulsa – 35:38
1st – 9:03
2nd – 7:13
3rd – 12:02
4th – 7:20
Why TOP Matters To This Team
On the surface you look at TOP and it doesn’t tell you a whole lot. It is easy to say that because UH scores so much and so fast, the TOP is so lopsided. Unfortunately that only tells one part of the story and is just one factor.
The biggest factor in the TOP differential is the number of long drives the defense has given up as well as their inability to get off the field. Everyone with the exception of Texas Tech has used grueling drives to wear down D’Onofrio’s boys.
His defense has been on the field for 88.4 plays per game and is currently ranked #105 in 3rd Down Conversion Defense at 43.4%. They can’t get off the field. The Coogs are #94 in 1st Down defense and has forced just 8 turnovers in 5 games (1.6 per game).
Looking back to our 2011 offense, which was one of the best in the history of the game, you see similarities in TOP. That defense was on the field almost 33.5 minutes compared to the current 35.5 clip.
The difference in the two is that the 2011 team could actually get off the field. The 2011 defense averaged 78.6 plays per game – 50 less snaps at this point in the season – and were ranked #44 in 3rd Down Conversion Defense. That team forced 31 turnovers in 14 games (2.2 per game).
At this point, the ineptitude isn’t a big deal because the Coogs are 4-1. The concern is how many snaps can this defense endure without complete collapse and injuries stacking up. There’s not a lot of quality depth behind what we run out there every week.
If you think this team looks tired at times, wait until they endure 8-straight games without a break. Especially if they are still on the field for 88 snaps over 35 minutes going forward.
Cover Photo By Mario Puente
Extended Tulsa Coverage
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Towns is a former UH athlete, having played baseball for the Cougars in the mid-90’s. He is most famous for walking 9 LSU batters in just 3 innings vs. LSU. He also fired a 2-hit complete game shutout of SFA.