Must-win season for Cougars
Expectations have been raised for the UH football team since the arrival of Art Briles; and this is a good thing. The Cougars, for the most part, have been able to live up to those expectations. Last season’s Conference USA Championship victory and Liberty Bowl thriller against South Carolina might have even spoiled a few of the UH faithful.
This puts Briles in a predicament – a predicament he’s probably pleased to be in. The Cougars cannot lose this year.
The fact that the Cougars’ starting quarterback will have, at most, four games of starting experience at the collegiate level doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter that one of the staples of the offensive line, SirVincent Rogers, will not likely see any action. The team will get no leeway, even if its defense is in the process of mastering the 4-2-5 defense when the season opener against Oregon rolls around. Last season’s 10-win season pretty much sets Briles and the Cougars up for failure.
Don’t consider this a shot at the UH football team, who, despite the loss of seven starters that happen to be competing for spots on the NFL roster, should still be considered the most well-rounded team in C-USA. Let’s just call it an observation. Unless the football team is held to a lower standard than any other sport on campus – oh, for fun let’s just say the men’s basketball team – if Briles and his supporting staff do not bring home the 2007 conference championship, heads will roll – mainly those of the whimsical UH fan base.
In lieu of a battle for the starting quarterback position that could rage on through the first few games, the Cougars have to find a way to win. They have to find a way to maintain the interest of their audience, the thousands upon thousands of UH students, alumni and NCAA football fans in Harris County.
That shouldn’t be too hard, though. The team boasts one of the nation’s most explosive running back Anthony Alridge, who averaged 10.1 yards per carry. Watching him run on Saturdays is about as amusing as it gets. It’s kind of like back in the day when you were in middle school playing football. There was always that one guy on the other team with a full-blown goatee that looked like he could beat up your dad, except in this case Alridge is that 5-9 freak of nature that runs as fast as a greyhound. The funny thing is, he’s playing against normal humans.
Receivers Jeron Harvey and Donnie Avery provide big-play threats for whoever the starting quarterback will be. Avery and Alridge rival each other in speed, and Harvey has a 6-5 body frame with hands as soft as a plume.
The defense returns seven starters and will look to make more turnovers running the 4-2-5, with safety Earnest Miller taking care of things in the secondary.
It’s like I said before; As far as it goes for the defending conference champions, expectations are high. The opportunities will be there, with Oregon, Colorado Sate and Alabama providing the chances for some major upsets.
The odds are against them, but that doesn’t change the fact that failure is not an option for the Cougars, even though failure, this go-around, could be the equivalent of an eight or nine-win season.