The UH/AAC Report

Cougars rally late in win over Tulsa: UCF and USF are halfway to perfection

QB D'Eriq King escapes the pocket vs. Tulsa. Photo via Houston Cougar Football/Facebook

Houston 41, Tulsa 26

QB D’ Eriq King and the Cougar offense started the game in frustrating fashion in front of a nationally televised audience on Thursday night. The worst offensive first quarter of the season since Week 1 vs Rice was induced by an introductory TD pass from Tulsa’s QB Seth Boomer, who threw for 227 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT. UH tried to respond, but QB King tried to thread a needle so tight that it caused his receiver to bobble the catch attempt, leaving the Tulsa defense an opportunity for a pick six. Luckily for the Coogs, the turnover only lead to a Golden Hurricane field goal. King then threw a beautiful 32-yard TD pass into the end zone to WR Keith Corbin, who made an equally beautiful jump catch. Offensive Coordinator Kendal Briles tried to instill an up tempo offense early, something he has been successful at implementing all season, but their failure at finding a rhythm left UH with predictable play calling in third and long situations, which forced King to make awfully contested throws.

The entirety of the second quarter was also frustrating to watch. Both teams ended up turning the football over in back to back to back possessions. King again attempted to throw into a tight window resulting in a Tulsa interception. The UH defense began to constrict Tulsa at this point, and showed that they are capable of committing turnovers in moments that give the Cougars' offense and opportunity to come back. On 3rd and 10, with 8:44 left on the clock,  King climbed the pocket and rushed for a 19-yard TD, putting the Coogs ahead 17-13 at halftime.

The third quarter was all Tulsa, who shut out the Cougar offense and scored 10 points of their own.

The fourth quarter, however, belonged to Houston. Briles finally found the rhythm he searched for all game and adjusted offensively.  King displayed an intangible characteristic, to never panic. King exploded to the right side of the field on a designed QB run and drove into a hole created by his offensive line and receivers that was so big, it led him to an impressive 61-yard touchdown run. The Houston defense then created another turnover via fumble on the Tulsa 9-yard line, where King answered right away with another TD throw. Golden Hurricane QB Boomer then threw a pick in his own 25-yard line, which was turned into yet another King TD. The offense managed to score 17 points in under 2 minutes, leaving the final score 41-26 Houston. Tulsa’s record drops to 1-4, while Houston improves to 4-1.

The defensive performance set by everyone around Ed Oliver is encouraging. LB Austin Robinson had himself a day, with 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble. LB Emeke Egbule recovered 2 fumbles. S Deontay Anderson created two turnovers via strip fumble and interception. UH has yet to play No. 23 USF, and a capable Memphis offense. Both teams are very run heavy, and must find a way to go around Ed Oliver and company. Houston showed the capability of complimentary football and will have to continue the trend next week at ECU, who is in last place in the American West division with a 2-3 record.

UH extends a triumphant record of 24-5 at TDECU Stadium in front of 29,823 fans.

The stars

DT Ed Oliver- 13 tackles (tied season high), 1.5 tackles for loss, one QB pressure.

QB D’Eriq King- 19/27, 165 passing yards, 2 INTs, 117 rushing yards, 5 total TDs.

Notable results in the American Athletic Conference

UCF 48, SMU 20

The #13 UCF Golden Knights extend their unrelenting win streak to 18-0 with a win at home vs SMU. The Golden Knights’ high octane offense scored three touchdowns in the first quarter. But a lot of credit is owed to the defense, who created several turnovers throughout the game that gave the offense opportunities to score on short fields. Running backs Adrian Killins and Otis Anderson combined for 26 carries, 187 rushing yards, and 3 TDs. SMU’s Ole Miss transfer, WR James Proche, had 12 receptions, 100 receiving yards, and 2 TDs. SMU is at 2-4, while UCF improves to 5-0 for the season and will face a formidable Memphis Tigers team in Tennessee next week.

USF 58, UMass 42

USF came into this week ranked at No. 23 as they visited UMass. This game began with a 65-yard touchdown thrown by the Bulls’ QB Blake Barnett, who ended up 17 of 24 with 1 TD, 1 INT, and 209 yards. But The real offensive display came from their rushing attack, where Jordan Cronkrite had an outstanding performance with 23 carries, 302 rushing yards, and 3 TDs. UMass had a weapon of their own. Minutemen WR Andy Isabella had 13 receptions, 191 yards, and 1 TD. USF will head into conference play at Tulsa, boasting a perfect 5-0 record.

Memphis 55, UConn 14

The Memphis Tigers won their first conference matchup with a huge offensive display from their RBs. Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. combined for an unstoppable 335 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. QB Brady White had an efficient showing where he went 16 of 18, threw for 239 yards, and 1 TD. Memphis scored 41 points in the first half, propelling them early into a 4-2 record. But an intimidating UCF team that is on a 18-game win streak awaits.

Cincinnati 37, Tulane 21

The Cincinnati Bearcats started this game slow with a 3-point first quarter, but then adjusted and scored 21 points in the second. Tulane tried to inch their way back into the game, but a pivotal third quarter punt block by Cincinnati was later turned into 7 points, diminishing any possibility for a Green Wave comeback. The Bearcats improve to an impressive 6-0 record, their first since 2012, while Tulane falls to 2-4.  

Other AAC Results

Temple 49, ECU 6

Air Force 35, Navy 7

Ed Oliver skips bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. Houston Cougar Football Facebook

The regular season is over for Houston football, but a lot has occurred since last week. Let’s take a look at what to expect for UH:

The Armed Forces Bowl

Houston (8-4, 5-3 in AAC) will face Army (9-2) at Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 22. The Black Knights are ranked No. 22 in the Top 25 AP Poll, mostly due to their prolific triple option rushing attack which ranks third in the nation. They are on a seven game winning streak since losing to Oklahoma. The Big 12 Conference Champion struggled at home against Army, but would later win in overtime. Army averages 300 yards per game on the ground this year, making them the third team (Navy, Memphis, Army) that Houston will face that is ranked within the top five in rushing. The matchup is not good for a depleted Houston defense. The Black Knights will play Navy this weekend, a conference foe of the Cougars who has had a terrible season. Army vs Navy will be the only college football game this weekend, where you can get a sneak peak of what to expect if you haven’t seen the Black Knights play all season. Plus, the uniforms for this game are always pretty cool.

King vs Milton

Houston comes into this bowl game with their heads hung low after what most consider to be a disappointing season. Injuries, most notably those to D’Eriq King and Ed Oliver, sidetracked the Cougars from heading into the AAC Championship game after Memphis blew them out in Week 13. King and UCF QB McKenzie Milton were both nominated for AAC Offensive Player of the Year, of which Milton took home for a second straight season. Milton humbly gave King an honorable mention by saying, “Shout out to D’Eriq King who is just as, if not, more deserving of this honor. Promise we’ll both be back better than ever!” King played only 11 games, where he reached 50 total touchdowns, 14 of which came from the ground, threw for 2,982 passing yards, and rushed for 674 yards.

Ed Oliver Denies Bowl Game

The All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver decided to sit out his final bowl game to begin preparing for the NFL draft. He announced his decision via twitter where he thanked the University of Houston, the coaching staff, and his teammates. He finished by saying, “To all the fans, thank you for your relentless support. Forever I will be a Coog!” Oliver’s decision came about a week after he publicly announced that he will be playing in whatever bowl UH was assigned, even after he had to be benched for tweaking his knee in Week 13 vs Memphis. He missed four games this season after suffering from an uncalled chop block against Navy. In his three years in Houston, Oliver accounted for 193 total total tackles, 54 of which were tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 14 passes defended, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one blocked kick. He was the first underclassmen to win the Outland Trophy in 2017, which is awarded to the best college interior lineman. This season, Oliver won AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Coaching Changes/Extensions

Houston still doesn’t have a defensive coordinator. Mark D’Onofrio was fired after the Memphis game for managing one of the worst defenses in college football, and also one of the worst defenses in the history of the program. The UH defense allowed a total of 412 points, being the fifth most allowed points in a season in school history, while also allowing 5,862 total yards. It seems like Houston is in no rush in finding a replacement.

Kendal Briles accepted a contract extension from UH after interviewing with Texas State for the head coaching job vacancy. He was also widely considered for a SEC offensive coordinator position of which was not disclosed by sources. The new three-year deal is worth $2.1 million, making Briles one of the highest paid assistants in the nation. Offensive line coach Randy Clements also enjoyed a new three-year extension. Consider both a package deal. The Houston offense averaged 46.4 points per game, rushed for 2991 yards, and passed for 3611 yards, making it one of the best offenses in the nation.

AAC Bowl Matchups

Armed Forces Bowl- Houston vs Army

Military Bowl- Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech

Gasparilla Bowl- USF vs Marshall

Birmingham Bowl- Memphis vs Wake Forest

Independence Bowl- Temple vs Duke

Cure Bowl- Tulane vs Louisiana Lafayette

Most Notable AAC Bowl Matchup

Fiesta Bowl- UCF vs LSU

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