Note: Ty Cloud started 28 games at left guard for the Cougars including every game of the 2011 season.
OTD in 2011, Ty Cloud turned 21.
And started his first game in college.
And blocked for Case Keenum in his first game back after his ACL tear. This is his story.
That Day: September 3, 2011
Has it really been 8 years?
Every year when September approaches I can’t help but think back to the fall of 2011. Growing up as a football player you always wish to be surrounded by a team that could achieve something special. When I was lucky enough to attend the University of Houston to play football, I could certainly see what was starting to be formed here.
I enrolled in June of 2009 and UH was coming off the 2008 season when a young QB came into form and led the team to a very strong down the stretch. UH had a charismatic OC named Dana Holgorsen that everyone wanted to play for. I could go to school 4 hours from home and, in my mind, win a heck of a lot of football games.
My first year on campus was spent as a redshirt but I saw this “G5” team go into Stillwater and Starkville and come away with some big-time wins. We finished 10-4 and had a generational QB coming back the next year with a bucket full of weapons.
I think the biggest achievement of the 2009 season is that we proved we could play with anyone and it didn’t matter where. We beat a top-5 team on the road but lost some games we had no business losing. Football humbles you.
Fall of 2010 was certainly not what we expected with Case going down to injury. I spent my first season on the field as a reserve blocking TE and on special teams. We finished that season not knowing whether Case would be back or what 2011 would hold.
As the summer of 2011 drew near, we found out that Case would be eligible for his 6th year. You couldn’t help but feel that we had assembled the talent that could make for a special season. I went into fall camp penciled in at LG but knew I needed to go and prove myself before the official depth charts were announced 2 weeks before the game.
I was able to earn a starting job in fall camp and we were set to open with UCLA at The Rob. There is nothing like reading your name at the top of a depth chart!
My first college start would be on my 21st birthday against a P5 opponent on national TV.
All throughout camp we talked about how the Houston climate gave us the advantage over those Cali guys practicing in 75-degrees in Westwood. But not so fast! On September 3rd, 2011, it was low humidity and windy. Our weather advantage didn’t happen. Thankfully, it didn’t matter.
Running onto the field at the Rob that day gave me such a rush of adrenaline that I had to calm myself down before kickoff. We started hot as soon as the ball was kicked. Case had to have completed 80% of his passes that day.
It should be said: Case is the most humble guy I’ve ever met and that season was no different. I think he was grateful that he had an opportunity to end his career at UH on his terms and not because of an ACL tear. There was so much talent on that offense and you couldn’t have handpicked a better guy to run the show. That UCLA game proved it once again.
My memories of that first drive are mostly how tired the defense got almost immediately. We reeled off 3 or 4 quick passes and had them running sideline to sideline. Then we started pounding the rock and it worked to perfection.
But that drive was shaky for me. On my first college snap as a starter, I stepped on center Chris Thompson’s foot and immediately hit the ground. Thankfully we ran a “quick game” pass and the ball was out before anyone could get through. I had a nice drive following that blunder but on my first play my nerves had me tripping over my teammates!
Otherwise, I vividly remember Case’s accuracy, Michael Hayes refusing to be tackled, and their defense huffing and puffing from the jump. We had a 31-point first half and played at a tempo that wouldn’t let the UCLA defense adjust. Your job as an O-lineman is much easier when the DL can’t catch their breath.
We all know UH came away with the win that day on the back of crazy performances from Case, Tyron Carrier, Michael Hayes, and the defense. We were 1-0 and we were all excited about the potential of that team. As each win passed the momentum and hype around the city exponentially grew. Twelve wins later it created a season none of us will ever forget.
I still keep up with all the guys regularly. (Starting right guard) Kevin Forsch and I have stayed close and he is my best man at my wedding coming up in November. My teammates are my brotherhood and getting together at UH games in the fall is always a blast.
But it’s crazy to think that just 8 years later my teammates Tyron Carrier and Juice Johnson are now on the staff. I know they are instilling the same culture we had just with another great QB running the show.
Cheers to the Cougars in 2019!
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