CFN Take: Houston Shuts Down SMU
Houston Cougars 2013 ...
Head Coach: Tony Levine
at Houston 34, SMU 0
2013 Record: 8-4|
8/30 Southern W 62-13
9/7 at Temple W 22-13
9/14 OPEN DATE
9/21 at Rice W 31-26
9/28 at UTSA W 59-28
10/5 OPEN DATE
10/12 Memphis W 25-15
10/19 BYU L 47-46
10/26 at Rutgers W 49-14
10/31 USF W 35-23
11/9 at UCF L 19-14
11/16 at Louisville L 20-13
11/23 Cincinnati L 24-17
11/29 SMU W 34-0
Basically … Houston got up right away on a 67-yard Daniel Spencer touchdown catch, and it kept on rolling with two 27-yard field goals from Kyle Bullard, a 19-yard touchdown catch from Greg Ward Jr. and a 37-yard Ryan Jackson scoring run. SMU was sloppy without QB Garrett Gilbert with penalties and turnovers proving costly.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 25-of-41 passes for 245 yards and two scores with two picks.
- SMU QB Neal Burcham completed 27-of-52 passes for 212 yards and three picks.
- SMU committed ten penalties and turned it over four times. Houston committed seven penalties and turned it over twice.
- Houston WR Daniel Spencer caught seven passes for 100 yards and a score.
Cincinnati 24, at Houston 17
Basically … In the rain and bad weather, Cincinnati got up 24-7 with two touchdown passes from Brandon Kay to Chris Moore from 40 and three yards out and he ran for a 14-yard score, and then the defense had to hold on. The Cougars forced three turnovers with Trevon Stewart returning a fumble for a score, and the offense came up with a 12-yard Deontay Greenberry touchdown catch in the second, but the O stumbled in the fourth.
- Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay completed 29-of-50 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns with two picks, and he ran nine times for 38 yards and a touchdown.
- Cincinnati outgained Houston 573 yards to 278, but he turned it over three times to Houston two.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 13-of-30 passes for 171 yards and a score, and he ran for 11 yards on seven carries.
- Cincinnati had the ball for 36:32 to Houston’s 23:28
at Louisville 20, Houston 13
Basically … A sluggish Louisville took control in the second half with Dominique Brown as the workhorse barreling to a three-yard touchdown early in the third, and John Wallace hit a 39-yard field goal to provide a wee bit of breathing room. Wallace made a 37-yarder in the second quarter and Brown ran for a 13-yard score for a 10-0 UofL lead, but Houston came back on two Kyle Bullard field goals and a three-yard Dominique Brown touchdown run.
- Louisville RB Dominique Brown ran 27 times for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
- Louisville held the ball for 37:49, and Houston had it for 22:11.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 16-of-35 passes for 121 yards.
- The Cougars finished with 195 yards of total offense.
at UCF 19, Houston 14
Basically … A John O’Korn pass into the end zone bounced away in the final seconds as Houston’s game-winning touchdown attempt came up short. UCF started out the scoring with Shawn Moffit field goals from 45 and 40 yards out, and following an O’Korn 24-yard touchdown run, William Stanback ran for scores from 15 and 38 yards out on the way to a 19-7 lead. O’Korn found Wayne Beadle for a 12-yard touchdown with just over four minutes to play, and got one last shot, taking off the final 3:02 getting down to the UCF seven before the final incomplete pass.
- UCF RB Storm Johnson ran 28 times for 127 yards, and William Stanback ran nine times for 74 yards and two scores.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 24-of-46 passes for 231 yards and a score with two picks, and he ran 13 times for 56 yards and a touchdown.
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 17-of-24 passes for 210 yards and a pick.
- UCF had the ball for over 35 minutes, but turned the ball over three times. Houston turned it over twice.
at Houston 35, USF 23
Basically … Houston go three touchdown passes from John O’Korn including a 48-yarder to Deontay Greenberry in the third for a 28-13 lead, but USF kept pushing and made it a game late with Mike White’s second touchdown pass to Mike McFarland making it a 28-23 game in the fourth. The Cougars were finally able to put the game away with a late forced fumble and a clinching score on a five-yard Kenneth Farrow run in the final few minutes.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 22-of-27 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
- Cougar linebacker Efrem Oliphant led all tacklers with 13 stops and a tackle for loss.
- In his first start, USF freshman Mike White completed 26-of-41 passes for 311 yards and two scores.
- USF was penalized 19 times for 170 yards
BYU 47, at Houston 46
Basically … In a wild shootout, Taysom Hill threw his fourth touchdown pass of the game with just over a minute to play finding Skyler Ridley from 11 yards out. Hill also ran for 128 yards, but it was Jamaal Williams closed the deal on early drives with two rushing scores. Houston took advantage of three turnovers with Derrick Matthews returning an interception 29 yards for a touchdown, and the special teams got into the act with a kickoff return for a score from Demarcus Lawrence in an explosive first quarter. Xavier Maxwell caught a 69-yard touchdown pass from John O’Korn, but Hill’s second touchdown pass to Ross Apo gave BYU a 24-21 lead going into the second. Up 38-34 going into the second half, the Houston offense stalled until a ten-yard Deontay Greenberry touchdown catch put BYU down 46-41 before the final, game-winning drive.
- With 681 yards of total offense, 41 first downs and enough big drives to answer every challenge, BYU got the job done at home against a dangerous, unbeaten team. Taysom Hill might have made several mistakes, and he might have given up a big pick six, but he was also unstoppable with 417 passing yards and 128 rushing yards on 34 carries. He handled the workload, but he was beaten on.
- The Cougars were outplayed, but they made it fun. Derrick Matthews did his part with a few sacks in the second half to help make up for the stalled offense – coming up with a safety for a six point lead – to go along with his interception return for a score, and the Demarcus Ayers kickoff return for a score sparked the team, but the defense couldn’t come up with anything to stop Hill from keeping the BYU offense moving. The linebackers whiffed way too often.
- The unbeaten season is over, but the loss wasn’t in conference play. A win over Rutgers would make this loss meaningless, but to have any chance in big games coming up, including road games at UCF and Louisville, the penalties and mistakes have to stop, committing ten sins and giving it away three times. A little more of a running game – finally – would be nice, too.
- With three turnovers – all from Hill, and 14 penalties, BYU kept Houston alive with mistakes. The defense gave up big pass plays time and again, but Hill and the offense made up for it by controlling the game on the ground. Houston didn’t have an answer when Hill took off.
at Houston 25, Memphis 15
Basically … Houston rallied with 15 unanswered points on a one-yard Kenneth Farrow run late in the third and a six-yarder in the fourth. Memphis outgained the Cougars 349 yards to 247, but it turned the ball over four times and had to settle for five Jake Elliott field goals. The last two Elliott kicks came in the third quarter, but the Tigers failed to score over the final 19-plus minutes.
- Houston was bad, the offense didn’t function, and there wasn’t enough pop, but it came away with an ugly win. Memphis has a decent defense, and the Cougars survived thanks to the big plays from its own D, recovering four fumbles.
- The Tiger defense did its job, keeping the Cougars to just 247 yards and 38 on the ground, but the offense failed time and time again with too many drives stalling. Jake Elliott had a huge performance with his five field goals, but Memphis wins if it can convert two of those drives into touchdowns.
- Four fumbles, 12 penalties, and too many misfires. Memphis isn’t good enough to get by with so many errors. The team is far better than 2012, but 1-4, the record doesn’t reflect it.
- Houston might not be pretty, and there might not be any consistency to the running game, but at 5-0, the results are terrific. To get by BYU and Rutgers over the next few weeks, the passing attack has to be more accurate after John O’Korn completed just 13-of-30 passes for 198 yards and a score, and penalties have to slow down.
Houston 59, at UTSA 28
Basically … Up 31-28 going into the fourth quarter, and then Houston exploded for 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter helped by two John O’Korn touchdown passes and punctuated by a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown from William Jackson in the final seconds. O’Korn threw four touchdown passes and the Cougars came up with a blocked field goal for a touchdown to keep pace, but UTSA helped the cause with five turnovers. The Roadrunners got two touchdown passes and a scoring run from Eric Soza, but the giveaways were too costly.
- It all changed on a single play. It was a tight battle with each team trading haymakers, and then Houston’s B.J. Singleton blocked the field goal that went for a score, and the momentum had completely shifted. UTSA didn’t recover.
- UTSA killed itself with special teams errors and turnover after turnover. There were several chances, and the offense kept screwing up. Eric Soza was replaced late, and while Tucker Carter completed 7-of-8 passes for 49 yards, he also threw a pick six. Soza is still the key playmaker for the attack.
- Houston was more active on defense and special teams. There weren’t any sacks and there was just one tackle for loss, but the secondary came through time and again.
- John O’Korn didn’t make the big mistakes. He completed 24-of-36 passes for 312 yards with four scores, and most importantly, there weren’t any picks. UTSA with five turnovers, Houston with zero.
Houston 31, Rice 26
Basically … Houston got three touchdown passes from John O’Korn, including a 32-yarder in the fourth quarter for a 31-13 lead, but Rice came roaring back and the Cougars had to hold on for dear life. Taylor McHargue ran for a one-yard touchdown, and Alex Lyons returned a blocked field goal 62 yards for a score to pull the Owls within five, after a missed two point try, with just over two minutes to play. Rice recovered the onside kick, but couldn’t do anything with it on the final drive.
- Rice didn’t wake up until it was too late. The first score came on a trick play with a 57-yard touchdown pass from RB Luke Turner to Turner Peterson, but the offense could only managed a one-yard Charles Ross scoring run in the first quarter before Houston kicked it in. The Owls aren’t built for big comebacks.
- The Cougars needed a little while to get started, but then John O’Korn got hot. He only completed 15-of-33 passes, and he wasn’t always sharp, but when he found his groove, the offense got moving with some nice deep plays for scores.
- Rice came up with a pass rush, just not enough of one. Zach Patt came up with a sack, and there were a few decent plays against the run, but for the most part, the D didn’t bother O’Korn enough.
- Tyus Bowser was a menace for the Cougar defensive line. Making seven tackles with 1.5 sacks and a pick. He was in the backfield pressuring Taylor McHargue all game long.
Houston 22, at Temple 13, Sept. 7
Basically … Richie Leone nailed five field goals including two in the second half as Houston got by a mistake-prone Temple team. The Owls got two Kenneth Harper first half touchdown runs, but three turnovers and nine penalties were killers. Ryan Jackson put the game away for the Cougars on a ten-yard touchdown run with just over a minute to play.
- Houston moved the ball extremely well, but it had a nightmare of a time converting yards into points. Too many drives stalled as the 524 yard of total offense accounted for way too many field goals.
- Temple’s offense couldn’t find any rhythm. The running game was effective at times, but mistakes and poor play from the offensive line at times kept the attack from moving. Connor Reilly completed 20-of-32 passes for 200 yards, but he threw two picks.
- John O’Korn was far, far sharper than David Piland. O’Korn completed 23-of-31 passes for 233 yards for the Cougars, but Piland struggled completing just 6-of-17 throws.
- Temple corner Tavon Young did what he could. He gave up a few midrange plays, but he broke up three passes and came up with nine tackles. Houston linebacker Derrick Mathews was fantastic in the middle making 13 tackles.
at Houston 62, Southern 13, Aug. 30
Basically … The Cougar offense got rolling early and often on the way to a 34-6 lead and an easy win. Ryan Jackson ran for 120 yards and two scores on just ten carries, while David Piland and John O’Korn combined for 255 passing yards and four scores, with O’Korn throwing three.
- Houston might be known for the passing attack, but the running game rocked against Southern with 372 yards and four scores. The more pressure taken off of David Piland, the better.
- John O’Korn was throwing darts. He completed 11-of-15 passes for 107 yards and three scores.
- The 14 penalties didn’t matter much against Southern, but they will soon. The Cougars made way too many mistakes, but Southern had a harder time with ten penalties and four turnovers. Houston didn’t turn the ball over.
Why To Get Excited … there are enough returning starters, particularly on offense, to spur a rebound from last year’s 5-7 disappointment. The Cougars lose just a couple of regulars on offense, while the supporting cast for QB David Piland is both versatile and explosive. When healthy, RB Charles Sims is a playmaker as a runner and receiver. And young wideouts Deontay Greenberry, Larry McDuffey and Daniel Spencer are preparing for liftoff.
Why To Be Grouchy … the defense will have a hard time improving without the services of its two best players, LB Phillip Steward and CB D.J. Hayden. The Cougars were toothless in 2012, giving up 483 yards and 36 points per game. With holes to be filled at each level of the D, it’s tough to imagine the unit being much more resilient than a year ago. The offense better be up to the challenge, because Houston will need to win shootouts this fall.
The Number One Thing To Work On Is … third-down defense. The Houston D was on the field for far too long last season, the result of an inability to make key stops. The Cougars ranked 107th nationally in third-down defense, which had two debilitating effects; it not only wore out the Houston defenders, but it also kept the team’s best offensive weapons idle on the sidelines.
Team Concerns For 2013: Consistency, consistency, consistency. The defense was miserable giving up a Conference USA-worst 483 yards per game, bottoming out in a 72-42 loss to SMU. Even with a tremendous pass rush, the secondary was awful allowing 290 yards per game, but all four starters are back. The run defense wasn't a prize, either, needing to be far stronger against the power running teams. The offense will be terrific with ten starters returning, but the special teams play has to be better after coming up with a Conference USA-worst 3.88 yards per punt return and under 20 yards per kickoff return.
Non-Conference Games: Southern, at Rice, at UTSA, BYU
Realistic Best Case Record: 8-4
Worst Case Record: 4-8
Likely Finish: 5-7
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Southern, at Rice, at UTSA, Memphis, SMU
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Temple, BYU, at Rutgers, USF, at UCF, at Louisville, Cincinnati
Schedule Analysis: The team should be better but the schedule is tougher. While going to Rice isn’t like a normal road trip, and going to UTSA won’t be that bad, three straight away games after starting out the year against Southern might be a bit rough. Memphis shouldn’t be a bad Big East date before a rough non-conference game against BYU, and then it’s back on the road for three road games in four with trips to Rutgers, UCF and Louisville wrapped around a home date against USF and followed up with a home date against Cincinnati – uh oh. After facing the Bearcats, the regular season ends six days later against SMU.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Quarterback. Who wants to be the next Case Keenum or Kevin Kolb? John O'Korn out of the Miami area has the size and the look of a high-octane playmaker,
while D'Juan Hines and JUCO transfer Billy Cosh will provide some nice depth in the near future. Running back Joseph Glenn is the second best
recruit for the offense behind O'Korn, while receiver Demarcus Ayers is a speedster with good upside. tight ends Deondre Skinner and Chauntez Jackson are good recruits for a team that always uses its offensive options. The team's best recruit is Ty Cummings, considered the nation's top kicker prospect, while linebacker Caleb Tucker and corner Greg Ward are decent players to eventually give the D some help.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 64. That Class Was Heavy On ... Can new head man Tony Levine keep the fun going? Quarterback isn’t a big priority - even with Case Keenum and Cotton Turner gone – thanks to the 2010 class. Receiver isn’t a concern after bringing in a slew of talents last year. The defensive front seven will get the most attention with Levine working hardest for the line while also looking at linebacker for a few key prospects.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
67. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. The 2010 class brought in several strong quarterback prospects, and they’re going to need someone to throw to. The Cougars are looking to stop someone from throwing, and now, with JUCO corners Chevy Bennett and D.J. Hayden, but the offense got the bulk with several nice receivers. Daniel Spencer and C.J. McElroy are short, quick targets, while 6-3, Mark Roberts has the potential to be a No. 1 in time. RB Kenny Farrow and QB Bram Kohlhausen will fight for starting jobs in the near future.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 54. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. The
miserable run defense got a big piece to the puzzle
with 285-pound JUCO transfer Matangi Tonga an almost
certain instant starter in the defensive interior,
and linebacker Sammy Brown will get a job from Day
One at one of the spots. The secondary was also
addressed with three excellent corners in Dominique
Sanders, Alton Demby, and Zach McMillen. The
highlight of the class, though, was at quarterback
where four prospects were brought in to develop in a
hurry with Case Keenum leaving next year. Terrance
Broadway came in from Baton Rouge, after getting
offers from Alabama, Nebraska, and Oregon, and could
be the most interesting of the candidates, Aaron
Johnson is a great athlete who got offers to switch
positions from several big-name schools, and David
Piland comes in from Carroll High in Southlake,
famous for Chase Daniel, among others.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 58. That Class Was
Heavy On ... offensive linemen. The loss of three starting linemen to graduation prompted Kevin Sumlin to spend extra time cultivating the next generation of Cougar blockers. Three new tackles and three new guards provide a nice foundation for the future and the present. At tackle, for instance, Ralph Oragwu is a three-star high-schooler with enormous upside and Roy Watts is a ready-made JUCO transfer, who turned away offers from SEC and Big 12 suitors.