YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS

Maybe UH football is the only program that got it right

Photo by Jonathan Bachman / Stringer/Getty Images.

Before you read this article, full disclosure here: I am good friends with UH head coach Dana Holgorsen. I have been for a long time. Do I want to see him win? Yes. But I wanted to see Major Applewhite win too. I liked him. And I liked Tony Levine and Tom Herman. I'm still friends with Kevin Sumlin. I liked Art Briles and Dana Dimel (although I knew he wasn't going to win much). My relationship with UH coaches goes back to Kim Helton who was great to me when I was one of the new guys in town.

I also like UH AD Chris Pezman a lot and I think President Khator is a superstar. I'm a big fan. I guess you could say I'm a UH fan. Maybe I'm not supposed to be because I'm in the media but I don't care. I want to see them win.

So when they got hit with a scud missile in the Houston Chronicle after UH shut down the football program last week I was pissed. Just three short days later in that same paper Jerome Solomon wrote a piece on how all of college football could be and maybe should be shut down.

Wait…what? Which is it? You can't have it both ways. Either it was good to shut it down or it wasn't.

That first piece condemning the leadership was written by Joseph Duarte who's the Coogs beat writer. I've known Joseph a long time. He's a good guy but what he wrote can undermine the program.

My main contention with his article is this sentence:

"If you rushed student-athletes back to campus with a flimsy, inadequate and ill-conceived plan, why should parents and fans have trust in anything you do or say moving forward?"

First of all, they didn't rush the players back. All of college football came back at the same time, June 1st.

Secondly, the plan was a 35-page document put together by 21 staffers and four doctors. It was neither flimsy, inadequate nor ill-conceived. Smart, concerned people worked on it. It apparently didn't meet Joseph's standards.

His main objection was that it didn't include the testing of all players on June 1st, the day the student-athletes arrived. He says UH was the only FBS school in the state that didn't test all their athletes that day. I haven't asked the other schools. I'll trust he's accurate there.

It is true that UH did not test all the players when they arrived. The plan was to test anyone who had a cough, fever, sniffle, sore throat, diarrhea or any other symptom however remote. They did and they were all negative.

Then just five days later the players were off on a long weekend which included trips to Galveston, the protests and funeral of George Floyd and wherever else 18 to 21-year olds chose to go. On June 11th they had six positive tests. On June 12th they shut down the football program.

This past weekend The University of Texas reported 13 positive tests, Clemson had 23. Texas A&M says their positive tests are on the rise. LSU has 30 players in quarantine.

30.

All those programs are still active.

UH had six positives and shut down their program.

Instead of being criticized, UH should be lauded for putting their student-athletes ahead of their football program. You think Dana doesn't want his guys working out together, building comradery, having player-led practices? Of course he does. While UH players are at home, every other program in the country is spending valuable time together, the positive tests be damned.

What's become quite clear is that the initial tests were useless. Ask Clemson. They had all those negative tests on June 1st, and they have 23 positive tests now. You'll be hard-pressed to find any school that doesn't have more positives than it did on June 1st. If they say they don't, they're probably lying. The fact is that unless you incarcerate and isolate your players from the rest of society they will be at risk of contracting the virus.

Was Dana supposed to tell his players they couldn't protest or go to the funeral? Good luck with that.

What really stings though is the attack on the leadership at UH for not protecting the athletes and how parents and fans can't trust them now. That's a line that opposing recruiters will use in living rooms all over the state and that's a shame because the exact opposite is true.

While other programs continue to put their athletes at risk with up to dozens of players testing positive, UH acted swiftly and decisively in shutting down its program, sending kids home, hopefully out of harm's way.

Later in the article Duarte took another shot at Pezman and Khator saying they had been "redshirting this spring." He thinks they disappeared at the most crucial time because they wouldn't answer his phone calls when he was looking for a quote for his piece.

What he may find from now on is that his phone calls to them will be going from redshirt straight into the transfer portal.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome