A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: UH blows game vs Tulane, plus a couple surprising outcomes

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Just another ho-hum week in the AAC. Nothing major to report. Not only did UH lose a road conference game, but they lost the face of their program as well. One other team had a letdown loss, while another surprised everyone with an upset win. Here's a look into week four of the AAC:

UH drops the ball vs Tulane

The Coogs snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. They led 28-7 early on in the second quarter as they looked as if they were going to cruise to an easy win. However, through sloppy play on both sides, they were outscored 31-3 the rest of the way and lost on a game-winning 53 yard touchdown pass with three seconds left. Four days later, star quarterback D'Eriq King decided to redshirt the remainder of his senior season, but says he plans on coming back to UH next season. So much for Dana Holgorsen's first season as head coach.

Other key results

UCF 34, Pitt 35: Pitt wasn't expected to end UCF's 27 game regular season win streak, but they did, and did so in dominating fashion. In rushing yards differential, Pitt was +111 and won time of possession by 11 minutes. So much for UCF's attempt to break into the CFP.

SMU 41, TCU 38: SMU topped one of the better defenses in the country by beating the then #25 ranked Horned Frogs. My rushing yards differential analytic was blown out of the water here because TCU was +118 and only had a 10 second time of possession advantage.

Temple 22, Buffalo 38: A week after beating #21 Maryland, the Owls lost to Buffalo. -2 in the turnover department and a -186 rushing yards differential will often do that to a team.

Stars of the week

Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: He helped the Mustangs upset TCU by completing 67.6% of his passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. At 4-0, SMU is off to its best start since 1984.

Jalen McCleskey, WR, Tulane: McClesky caught the game-winning 53 yard touchdown. He also had three other catches for 70 yards and another touchdown. He accounted for 64.5% of their receiving yards and two of their three receiving touchdowns.

Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF: The Golden Knights lost, but it wasn't through any fault of Davis who totaled 10 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns. I'm keeping an eye on this kid as he is draft eligible after this season.

Four games to watch this week

Navy @ Memphis

SMU @ USF

UConn @ UCF

UH @ UNT

Three players to watch this week

Clayton Tune, UH: With King redshirtting, Tune is now the starter. Going on the road to Denton for his third career start will be very telling as to how the rest of the season will go.

Memphis Defense: Navy averages 371.5 yards per game rushing. The Tigers' defense gives up 116.3 yards rushing per game. Something has to give.

Shane Buechele, SMU: Can the once highly touted quarterback lead SMU to a 5-0 start with a road win vs USF?

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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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