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Houston Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
Houston Cougars
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 7, 2006


Houston Cougars Preview 2006 - UH Further Analysis

1st and Ten – How many bullets left in the chamber? – It’s only been four years, but it seems as though Kevin Kolb has been starting at quarterback for the University of Houston since the Bill Yeoman days.  Through his first three years as a starter, Kolb has taken the Cougs to two bowl games, and, subsequently, two losses.  His numbers are phenomenal.  He’ll be number one on the Cougs passing all-time list, overtaking David Klingler.  Barring injury, he could possibly reach 13,000 yards with a strong passing year.  He’s started 36 games in a row, more than any other quarterback in college football.  But, and you knew there had to be a ‘but’, the success that many thought was a 100% guarantee after his stellar freshman season hasn’t really come to fruition.  The Cougs have finished four games under .500 over his three years as the starter, regardless of the bowl appearances.  Now, you can’t pin that all on him, but as the quarterback, the leader of this team, the weight does fall on his shoulders.  The yin and yang of his career has been difficult for the former Stephenville, TX high school star.  But, the one thing about sports is that you can make everyone forget everything that happened previously with one great year.  Kolb has the physical tools to be the best quarterback in Conference USA, but consistency has to be a hallmark of this 2006 season.  And, that my friends, starts with the Coug playbook or, better yet, a ‘tailoring’ of the playbook, if you will.  The pieces are in place – Vincent Marshall and Donnie Avery at receiver, a healthy Jackie Battle at RB, an experienced offensive line and a much improved and mature defense, so there really are no other excuses.  Not that Kolb would use any, of course.  The man does have a few more bullets to fire; hopefully, for Coug fans, he’ll hit the CUSA championship target.

2nd and Seven – Don’t Call it a Comeback – The man hasn’t seen the field since 2004 when he was one of the best defensive backs in Conference USA.  Two years of rehab.  Two years of heartache and pain, watching his teammates take the field without him.  But, free safety Will Gulley is back for U of H, and he solidifies an experienced secondary and defense.  Gulley, before his injury, was a dual threat – stopping the run and playing the pass with equal aplomb.  176 career tackles and 8 interceptions in three years don’t indicate a stiff playing in the back four.  He may not be absolutely 100% healthy this season, but his leadership and tenacity will work wonders for this defense and this team.

3rd and Three – It’s a 3-4 for a reason – Last season, Art Briles and his defensive coaching staff made the move to a 3-4 defense.  The thought was that the Cougars had more linebacker types than dominant linemen, so the move was made.  Well, it’s turned out well, especially with the four studs who’ll step on the field at the linebacker position, again, this year.  Wade Koehl, Brendan Pahulu, Trent Allen and Cody Lubojasky all return after starting all but two games last season.  The youngsters on the inside – Allen and Lubojasky – struggled somewhat in the first half of the season, but the experience will pay huge dividends in 2006.  Koehl and Pahulu are the team’s most disruptive defenders, creating edge havoc and making plays in the backfield.  These four will be the heart of a highly experienced defense.

4th and One – This is it – The 2006 season will be Art Briles’ fourth at the University of Houston, and in a way, it’s a watershed year for the former Texas High School coaching legend.  In a way, the first three years have been up and down and perhaps some would say unfulfilling.  But, on the other hand, you could say that the Cougs have been building up to this year since his arrival.  The defense returns 10 starters, and a former All-CUSA candidate in Gulley.  The offense has key skill players back, including the aforementioned Kolb.  The conference is good, but not great, and if the Cougs can knock off UTEP and Tulsa, the 2005 CUSA champ, at home, they’ve got a legitimate shot to be the CUSA kings in 2006.  They leave the state of Texas only three times and have seven home games.  This is the year – if not this year, it won’t happen.  The stars are aligning perfectly for the Cougs.  Cue the Kenny Loggins!.

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