Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Houston season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Houston Cougars
Please, Houston. Just … win … the games … you’re supposed to.
It was UCF’s season in the American Athletic Conference, and Memphis and USF did their part to make it a fun season, but Houston could’ve and should’ve done a whole lot more in a painfully weak West division.
Navy was just okay and SMU was beatable – and the Cougars beat both of them.
The 42-38 Memphis loss was no big problem – it was a great game against a great team – and losing by three to Texas Tech was more than acceptable in non-conference play.
But no … 45-17 against a Tulsa team that won just one other game? A late-season clunker to a mediocre Tulane team?
Of course, the hurricane issues were a more than reasonable excuse for a lack of focus throughout the season, but the team was good enough to beat USF on the road and beat Arizona – it should’ve done more than win just seven games.
But losing games it shouldn’t isn’t new to Houston.
Under Tom Herman, a College Football Playoff spot might have been there for the taking – or, at least, been in the discussion – by throttling Oklahoma and Louisville in 2016, but it clanked against Navy and SMU along the way.
The 2015 team that ripped off 13 wins and rolled past Florida State in the Peach Bowl was undone in the CFP discussion by … UConn?
Head coach Major Applewhite has to prove that he can get the Cougars back to the elite level in the American Athletic Conference, and he can do it as long as the team doesn’t miss the two-foot putts.
The addition of offensive coordinator Kendal Briles should ramp up the offense that struggled to find itself early on. D’Eriq King is a fun and exciting quarterback, but he needs the weapons to emerge around him.
Ed Oliver leads what should be a phenomenal defensive front, but the D as a whole has to be more consistent, better against the stronger passing teams, and more dangerous in the tight games.
It’s going to take some work. It’ll take a little while to build up the depth on both sides of the ball, and it might take scrimmages against teams like Rice and Texas Southern to get the season up to speed.
But as long as Houston takes down all the games it’s supposed to, this could and should be the season that shows everything is on the right track under Applewhite.