A LOOK AT THE AAC

The UH/AAC Report: UH loses Battle of the Cougars, plus other blowouts and big wins

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This week saw UH falling to Washington State by seven, UCF continuing to roll, a couple blowouts, and Temple picking up a big upset win. Let's dive into week three of the AAC:

UH loses Battle of the Cougars

Losing to a top 25 team on a "neutral site" by seven isn't what you want from a program looking to gain more respect nationally, but it isn't necessarily a bad thing either. The Fighting Holgorsens will get right. Dana said as much on The Bench With John and Lance. While he estimates it could take up to two years. I think it could happen much faster if they get transfers.

Other Key Results

UCF 45, Stanford 27: It's the Golden Knights' world and all other AAC teams are living in it. Good win over a PAC 12 team.

Tulane 58, Missouri State 6: The Green Wave beat up on a lesser talented team in a tune up before their Thursday night showdown with UH.

Temple 20, Maryland 17: The Owls threw a cold bucket of ice water on one of the hottest teams in the country. They held the #21 ranked Terps 54 points under their early season average.

Navy 42, ECU 10: The Midshipmen picked up the first conference win of the season by besting the Pirates. They even outpassed the Pirates 153 to 138.

Memphis 42, South Alabama 6: The Tigers continue to roll despite losing NFL talent. This team will be one to watch this season.

Stars of the week

Tyjae Spears, RB, Tulane: The freshman had eight carries for 89 yards and a touchdown. He added one catch that went for an 88 yard touchdown. Not bad for your third collegiate game.

Dillon Gabriel, QB, UCF: He completed 73% of his passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford at home. This performance makes the loss of McKenzie Milton sting a lot less.

Temple's Defense: The Owls held the high scoring Terps to 3.5 yards per rush, 4.6 yards per pass attempt, and only 17 points. Considering Maryland scored 79 and 63 in their first two games respectively, I was impressed.

Five games to watch this week

UH vs Tulane

UCF vs Pitt

SMU vs TCU

Temple vs Buffalo

UConn vs Indiana (Indiana is a -27 favorite. Who's taking the Huskies and the points?)

Three players to watch this week

Dillon Gabriel, UCF: Coming off last week's performance against a Power Five school at home, can Gabriel replicate or one up himself on the road against another Power Five School?

TJ McDaniel & Xavier Jones, SMU: The two running backs combined for 267 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries last week against TX State. TCU offers a much different type of opponent as they allow only 62 yards a game on the ground.

UH Offense: The Tulane defense gives up 14.7 points, 181 yards passing and 95 on the ground on a per game basis so far in this young season. That's a stingy defense to go against considering the Coogs offense has struggled to get going and rev up to full potential.

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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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