2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Houston Offense
– Let the running backs handle the ground game. D’Eriq King is too athletic and too dangerous on the move to keep him from taking off, but considering how valuable he is for the passing attack – and coming off a knee injury – the more the running backs can handle the work, the better.
King finished second on the team in carries and rushing yards, and there’s no real need for that considering the stable of backs in place. Patrick Carr, Mulbah Car, and Texas transfer Kyle Porter are more than good enough to handle the heavy lifting. Of course King can and should take off, but keeping him in one piece is everything for the AAC title hopes.
Biggest Key To The Houston Defense
Get a whole lot nastier up front. Even with Ed Oliver, there weren’t enough tackles for loss, the sacks weren’t there, and the run defense was a distant rumor late in the season.
The stats are a bit skewed considering the Cougars had to go against Memphis and Army to end the season – allowing 908 yards and 14 touchdown in the two games – but the run defense was lousy against anyone who gave it a consistent effort. The pass defense was awful, too, and any improvement starts with more pressure from the front four.
With the Oklahoma, Washington State, and North Texas passing games over the first half of the year, the Cougars have to get to the quarterback.
Key Player To A Successful Season
DT Olivier Charles-Pierre, Jr.
Granted, the Cougars had to deal with a slew of nasty running teams, but it allowed 195 rushing yards or more in eight of the last nine games. The D overall was a hot mess, but simply being able to hold up in the interior would be a nice start.
Without Ed Oliver around, the Cougars need a top tackle, and 6-2, 345-pound JUCO transfer Oliver Charles-Pierre is a different sort of interior presence. He won’t get behind the line, but he can be a Coke machine who holds up as an anchor.
Key Game To The Houston Season
Memphis, Nov. 16
Unless something crazy happens, this should be the AAC West championship game. The Cougars won a 35-34 thriller in 2015, and went on to take the conference title. Memphis has won the last three and played in the last two AAC Championship games. There’s a week off for Houston to prepare – Memphis gets a week off, too – but it’s a home game.
– Houston Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Houston Fun Stats
– Rushing TDs: Opponents 42 – Houston 29
– Passing TDs: Houston 45 – Opponents 19
– Time of Possession: Opponents 34:57 – Houston 25:03