Falcon Points

With bizarre D'Eriq King announcement, UH is playing the long game. Will it work?

Photo via Houston Cougar Football/Facebook

When the news broke on Monday, it made little sense. Sensational senior quarterback D'Eriq King and receiver Keith Corbin announced they were redshirting thanks to a new rule that allows players to do so after four games. It was confusing, in that some reports had King planning to transfer.

As of now, he says he is staying. But should he decide to transfer, he will be a hot property. On the surface, punting on the season seems bizarre. But if it really plays out this way and he is back at UH next season, the move makes a lot of sense.

Rough start

King is under his third coach in four years. When Dana Holgorsen came in, it seemed to be a godsend for the program, a successful Power Five coach with a knack for offense. But a tough early schedule that included games against Oklahoma and Washington State led to a 1-3 start. The killer was a loss at Tulane, a game in which UH blew a 21-point lead. Even with King and Corbin, the Cougars have little shot at anything more than a bottom feeder bowl game.

Does it make sense?

Make no mistake, the Cougars are tanking. It's not something we have seen in college football. But if King does return, it makes sense. Holgorsen has several high profile transfers sitting out this season, and the roster will be in much better shape in 2020. King can work on his craft for another year and come back ready to make a run at a conference title; maybe more. Or he can graduate and go to a bigger school. His accuracy was not the same this season; time off to work on it could help.

Bare cupboard

The Cougars collapse began last season, and culminated in an ugly bowl loss to Army, one that cost Major Applewhite his job. Other than King and a few quality players, Applewhite left a fairly bare cupboard, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The decline actually started in Tom Heman's final year, and got worse under Applewhite.

The Cougars are better than they were at the end of last season, but the record does not reflect it. Truthfully, they aren't good enough to compete for a conference title. So why not get some young players experience and come back strong next season?

Serious impact this year

With King, the Cougars might have been favored in three or four games left in the season. They would need five wins to get bowl eligible. As it stands? They will likely only be favored in one, against UConn.

They opened as 1 1/2 point favorites at North Texas; now they are seven point underdogs. Clayton Tune has some experience at quarterback, filling in when King got hurt last year. He won't be a disaster. But the Cougars will not be nearly as good.

People who bought season tickets on the Holgorsen hope can't be happy. This is not what they were sold on. It also means the Cougars better have some success in 2020, or Holgorsen's seat will get hot fast. He is likely headed for a losing season at a place that brags about firing coaches for eight win seasons.

Now that will have to happen in 2020, when they have games at Washington State and at BYU. But who knows how it will all play out? The bizarre move does not guarantee them anything. But despite how it looks on the surface, it does make some sense.

Welcome to tanking in college football. To quote Dodgeball, "That's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off."


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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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