THE AAC REPORT.

AAC preview: With a new coach at the helm, the Houston Cougars should be one of the top teams in the conference

On the heels of another season, The University of Houston is set to begin another year of College Football on Sunday, as the Cougars open their 2019 schedule against the No. 4 ranked team in the country, the Oklahoma Sooners. While some may overlook the significance of the non-conference match, Sunday's kickoff at The Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK will mark the beginning of a new era for Houston.

After a disappointing year that saw the team go 8-5, the Cougars made some significant changes to their program in 2019, but none more important than the hiring of Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen, 48, comes to the University of Houston after severing eight years as the head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers, where he turned the football program into one of the most respected schools in the Big 12 Conference, with a 61-41 record.

And much like his time in West Virginia, one should expect Holgorsen to transform Houston's football program into one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference starting this season.

Players to watch

QB D'Eriq King

One of the factors that could make the Cougars a dangerous team this season is the talent Holgorsen has one his team, starting with senior quarterback, D'Eriq King. The 5'11 quarterback from Manvel, Texas had a breakout season in 2018 here he recorded 2982 passing yards and 36 touchdowns, on 345 attempts. It is also worth mentioning that Kings rushed for a career-high 674 yards on 111 carries.

Since signing with Houston in 2016, Kings has always displayed the talents as a top tear quarterback, but 2019 maybe his year to finally led the Cougars to an AAC championship title. He is one of 30 quarterbacks listed in the this year's Manning Award Watch List, as well as ranked 40th overall in ESPN's 2019 Top 50 College Players in 2019. If King can live up to the high preseason expectations, the Cougars can easily become one of the top football teams in all the nation.

WR Marquez Stevenson

After a slow start to his freshman season, Houston's wideout, Marquez Stevenson, had an explosive year in 2018. As a sophomore, Stevenson posted career-highs across the boards with 1019 receiving yards, 75 catches, and nine touchdowns. Last season, he was the only receiver to record over 1,000 yards, and as he heads into his junior season, one should expect Stevenson to solidify himself as one of the top wideouts in the American Athletic Conference.

RB Patrick Carr

Houston's running back, Patrick Carr, is heading into his final year as the starting running back for the Cougars, and one should expect another great season from the Woodlands native. Last year, Carr led all players in rushing with 868 and five touchdowns. With competition for the starting position in the backfield coming from Kyle Porter, a transfer from Texas, Carr will be on high alert not to lose his starting spot in his senior season.

LB Isaiah Chambers

Despite having one of the best defensive players in Ed Oliver, the Cougars had one of the worst defensive teams in all of college football last season. It was the worst statistical seasons in school history, recording 483 points allowed, giving up 6,454 total yards, and 42 rushing touchdowns. However, under coach Holgorsen, it is safe to say that Houston's defense will undergo a major improvement in 2019, and a huge factor in their turn around will be linebacker, Isaiah Chambers.

Chambers' 2018 season ended prematurely due to a knee injury, but now healthy, one should expect Chamber to have a major impact on Houston's defense. Prior to the injury, Chamber got off to a nice start with 4.5 sacks in the first five games.

CB Damarion Williams

Another player that will make a positive impact on Houston's defense is cornerback back, Damarion Williams. Although this is his first season playing D-1 football, Williams addition to the team may be one of the most underrated acquisitions of the offseason. As a member of the NJCAA All-America First Team at Highland Community College, Williams led the nation with seven interceptions and 17 pass breakups.

Although he will be facing a higher level of competition in the AAC, Williams' talent will be enough to keep the Cougars from giving up another 6,454 in total yards.

Key Games

  • The University of Houston at Tulane, Thursday, September 19th.
  • SMU at The University of Houston, Thursday, October 24th.
  • Memphis at The University of Houston, Saturday, November 16th

Predictions

Behind the three-headed monster of King, Stevenson, and Carr, the Houston Cougars will have one of the most explosive offenses in all of college football this season. Unfortunately, Houston's play on the defensive side of the ball will remain their Achilles heel throughout 2019. If new head coach Dana Holgorsen can help the Cougars' defense become an above average defensive team, expect Houston to be a serious contender to take home the American Athletic Conference championship this year.

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These uniforms have to go. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

Major League Baseball will consider going back to having players wear their team uniforms for the All-Star Game.

Club uniforms were used by the American League from 1933-2019 and by the National League from 1934-2019. When the game resumed in 2021 following the pandemic-related cancellation in 2020, MLB had started a uniform contract with Nike and Fanatics, and All-Stars were outfitted in specially designed league uniforms that drew criticism from traditionalists.

Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

This year's AL uniforms had a sandy base with red sleeves and lettering and the NL had a navy base with light blue sleeves and lettering.

“I’m aware of the sentiment on this issue,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Tuesday. "I think where my head is on it, it’s something we’re going to have a conversation about coming out of the All-Star Game. We've got a lot of uniform things going on. And, obviously, the conversations have to involve the players first and foremost but Nike, some of our partners. But I am aware of the sentiment, and I do know why people kind of like that tradition."

MLB and Nike were criticized for club uniforms this year and said in May that 2025 club outfits will have larger lettering on the back of jerseys and individual pant customization. Players complained this year that white pants worn by some teams are see-through enough to show tucked-in jersey tops.

Regional sports networks

Manfred said a national steaming package of local television broadcasts is a future possibility.

“I could see a situation where we grow into a 30-club model. It might start on the digital side, where you have 14 or 15 clubs, and, you start with a digital product there as your first alternative,” he said.

“I was in Sun Valley last week and I did the whole speed-dating thing with everybody who’s ever streamed anything. When you talk to people in the streaming business, they’re not really interested in buying the state of Wisconsin and two counties in Michigan," Manfred added. "They want to be able to stream quite frankly, all over the U.S. and Canada but more broadly internationally. So I think those conversations are a product of owners saying, holy cow, the RSN business is really deteriorating. We know the future’s going to be streaming. What we’re hearing from the streamers is they want a more national product, and we need to be responsive to what people want to buy.”

MLB took over production of Arizona and San Diego local television broadcasts last year following the bankruptcy of Diamond Sports’ Bally networks and said MLB will be available as an option for teams looking for new deals. He said Padres game are approaching 40,000 subscribers, which he called a good figure.

“Having said that, from a revenue perspective it is not generating what the RSNs did," Manfred said. "The RSNs were a great business. Lots of people paid for programing they didn’t necessarily want. And it’s hard to replicate that kind of revenue absent that kind of bundling concept.”

Offense

While offense is near half-century lows, it has picked up from early in the season.

“The decline in offense is something that we’re paying a lot of attention to and we’ll continue to monitor to make a decision as to whether we think we need to do something. You do hear a lot of chatter about the dominance of pitching in the game. That’s absolutely true.”

Birmingham

After the success of the June 20 game between San Francisco and St. Louis at Rickwood Field, Manfred said MLB will return to the ballpark in Birmingham, Alabama, but the “exact form” had not been determined.

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