Houston Cougars College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Houston Cougars Biggest Key: Offense
Let’s get this running game going already. The Cougars have too many good receivers and – potentially – too strong a passing attack to not keep winging the ball all over the yard, but the offensive line is in place and the backs are good enough to grind it out at times, too.
Even with QB Clayton Tune running well enough to be the team’s second-leading rusher, the Cougars managed more than 160 yards on the ground just once – blowing up for 319 against USF – and averaged under four yards per carry.
This isn’t one of those teams that has to run well to win, but it would be nice. At the very least, just get closer to five yards per carry, show more pop and explosion, and every once in a while, settle things down with a 200-yard running day.
Houston Cougars Biggest Key: Defense
Start taking the ball away. The defense wasn’t bad last season, and there’s more than enough talent, depth and experience returning to be even better, but it’s got to come up with more big plays.
The defense generated 24 takeaways in 2018, struggled to do anything big in 2019, and fell off the takeaway map in 2020 with just six forced turnovers.
It came up with two in the blowout loss to UCF, failed to get one in three games, and came up with one in the other four. That means the Cougars failed to come up with multiple takeaways in 17 of their last 18 games.
Houston Cougars Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Clayton Tune, Jr.
Everything else is in place for the offense to blow up. Now the guy running it has to be amazing. There’s not really a good Plan B with Logan Holgorsen transferring out and no one else with any real experience.
It might be this simple. If Tune is great, the Cougars can win the American Athletic Conference title. If he’s not, it might be yet another disappointing and lost season under Dana Holgorsen.
Houston Cougars Key Game To The 2021 Season
at Tulsa, Oct. 1
If this really is a good enough Cougar team to challenge for the conference title, it has to take out Navy in the AAC opener without much of an issue. That’s at home, the next two games against Tulsa and Tulane aren’t.
This might not be the same Tulsa team that shocked the conference last year, but it’s still good and it’s on the road. Get through the next two games, and with no UCF or Cincinnati to deal with, and USF and Temple the other two AAC road games, it’ll be all there for the taking.
2020 Houston Cougars Fun Stats
– Punt Return Average: Houston 18.5 yards – Opponents -1.2
– 1st Quarter Scoring: Opponents 72 – Houston 37
– Fumbles: Houston 7 (lost 6) – Opponents 9 (lost 3)