A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: a high scoring week, some teams stay hot while others cool

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Week six in the AAC was pretty high scoring. Five teams scored more than 30 points, with four of them scoring more than 40 and one scoring more than 50. Let's take a closer look at what transpired:

UH was off, but there's still news

Even though the Coogs were off, there was a bit of news that came down. Graduate transfer offensive lineman Justin Murphy has apparently quit the team. He started four games this year: three at right guard and one at right tackle. It's yet to be seen how true the report from GoCoogs.com has any truth or other sources to back it up. So for now, we'll assume it's true.

Other key results

Cincinnati 27, UCF 24: The Bearcats handed the Golden Knights their second loss of the season, and bumped them from the top 25 rankings while taking a spot on the rankings themselves.

SMU 43, Tulsa 37: SMU stayed undefeated with triple overtime win over the Tulsa. No one saw the lowly Golden Hurricanes giving the ranked, undefeated Mustangs this much trouble. SMU is 6-0 for the first time since 1982.

Tulane 42, Army 33: Tulane held off the Army rushing attack for a strong win improving to 4-1 on the season. What's most impressive is they beat Army with a rushing yardage differential of +131.

Stars of the week

Cincinnati Defense: I said last week that UCF would have a tough time with this defense on the road. While they gave up 423 yards of offense, they also forced four turnovers that helped them win the game.

Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis: Talk about an appropriate name! He rushed for 209 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in a 52-33 win over ULM.

Tulane Offense: The Green Wave had four guys rush for 50 or more yards and a touchdown in their win over Army. This contributed heavily to their +131 rushing yardage differential.

Games to watch this week

Memphis @ Temple

Cincinnati @ Houston

Navy @ Tulsa

Players to watch this week

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Gainwell leads a rushing attack that averages 214.4 yards a game going against a defense the gives up 125.6 yards a game on the ground.

Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati: I expect Ridder to have a big game against the porous UH defense as the 4-1 Bearcats look to build off their big win over UCF.

Tulsa Defense: The Golden Hurricanes are average against the run. Navy excels in their triple option attack. This will be the deciding factor in this matchup.

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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.

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