Lost season

As UH loses another game, Applewhite and his staff deserve more scrutiny

Major Applewhite's first season at UH is not going well. Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The Houston Cougars lost their third game of the season Thursday night, blowing several big leads in a 42-38 setback against Memphis.

When Major Applewhite was hired, the joke was that “we fire coaches for going 8-4,” a reference to Tony Levine, who was dismissed after just such a mark.

What about 6-5? What will they do then?

People forget Levine’s recruits -- many who litter the NFL -- helped Tom Herman land the Texas job, and eventually got Applewhite the UH gig. That’s not to say Levine should not have been fired; there is no way they would have gone 13-1 with him at the helm. But Applewhite deserves the same scrutiny.

I believe Applewhite will be a good coach. But part of being a good coach is hiring the right people. Levine made one bad offensive coordinator hire after another and stubbornly stuck with John O’Korn at quarterback when he had a much better option with Greg Ward, Jr. It cost him his job.

Applewhite made a bad hire with his defensive coordinator. Mark D'Onofrio was a terrible DC at Miami. Before that, he was awful at Temple. He had been out of work for a year when Applewhite called him. It was a baffling hire at the time and looks worse now.

Last week, his defense was riddled by a bad Tulsa team. Thursday night, it gave up 42 points in the second half alone.  They did not get ONE stop in the half. A team with the defensive talent UH has should never do that. Memphis made adjustments at halftime and their offense looked like a video game in the second half. UH never adjusted.

Applewhite has to realize the hire was a mistake and learn from that. If he does not fix it fast, it could be a fatal mistake. Hiring a guy with a track record of failure -- and then watching him fail some more -- is unacceptable. UH fans should demand better. They have seen this act with Levine.

Oh, and the Cougars QB situation is also a mess, but they were going to miss Ward no matter what. He was a terrific college quarterback. Kyle Postma is a nice backup thrust into a starter’s role. He played poorly at Tulsa and was OK against Memphis, although his late turnovers doomed any comeback attempt. The Kyle Allen experiment was just as big a failure as it was at A&M. And maybe, just maybe, Applewhite making the same mistake as Levine by not giving D’Eriq King a chance.

Applewhite also made a bad call late in the game by not going for it on fourth and short and instead trusting a defense that did not have a stop in the second half. Did we mention that?

And things could get much worse. 

The Cougars get South Florida next and still have Navy on the schedule. At 4-3, they are likely staring at a 6-5 finish, 7-4 at best. They are probably lucky the UTSA game was canceled or they could have conceivably finished 6-6. They have way too much talent on the roster for that kind of season.

We have seen this act before in Levine era. If Applewhite is to succeed, it has to start with firing D'Onofrio and finding a competent replacement. If not? The Cougars will waste another year of Ed Oliver next season, and will be looking for a new coach. Again.

Of course,  I hear Levine is available.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome