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Sunday, September 24, 2023


It’s not good

In case of emergency: Hit panic button

Chris Elliott

Now would be a good time to panic, Cougar fans. In this case, it’s not premature.

Yeah, Houston has been a part of some on-the-edge-of-your-seat games the last couple of weeks.

Any true football fan would enjoy watching second-half comebacks, a vicious hitting defense, an offense with the potency to score on any given down and last second field goal attempts.

All of the previously listed make for good football watching.

But it’s like I said, now would be a good time for Cougar football fans to hit the panic button.

Because the same UH defense that has punished opponents with slobber-knocking hits and has forced six turnovers in its first four games frequently gets beat downfield on long pass plays, gives up 4.5 yards per carry and is responsible for allowing 30.5 points per game.

UH has the No. 16 ranked offense in the country, producing 483.5 yards per game and scoring an insane 33.5 points per game thanks to head coach Art Briles’ system and a handful of abnormally fast athletes at the skill positions, but it also has its faults that need to be mended if the team plans on making a decent bowl game this season.

Twelve turnovers in only four-game time span would be considered subpar for any collegiate level team, Division I AA included.

Following his team’s 37-35 loss to East Carolina on Saturday at Robertson Stadium, in which the Cougars had three turnovers and were flagged with eight penalties, Briles said that changes are in the near future.

"We’ve got to tighten it up a whole bunch," Briles said. "We can’t make mistakes that hurt us as a football team. So, we’re going to remedy that problem."

Despite all the penalties, turnovers, a horrific punting game that habitually awarded ECU with great field position and yet another switch at the quarterback position, the Cougars found themselves with two potential game winning opportunities in the final two minutes of Saturday’s game.

So they’ve got to be doing something right.

If T.J. Lawrence had made just one of those field goals late in the game, perhaps this column would be focusing on how clutch a team Briles has produced.

But UH didn’t win. It fell to 2-2 and will be immersed in a culture that cooks, cleans, talks, lives and breathes nothing but football when it goes into Alabama on Saturday to face the Crimson Tide.

If the Cougars can’t play near perfect football, the probability of them being trampled in their next game and dropping below .500 is extremely high.

Now would be a good time to panic for the UH football team and its fans.

Maybe an unnerved state of mind is not so much of a bad situation to be in right now.

If the Cougars get pushed far back enough into a corner in Alabama, they’ll eventually have no other way to go but through or over their opponents.

Avery’s amazing acts not enough

by Jong Lee

Trailing by nine and just over a quarter remaining in Saturday’s game against East Carolina, the Cougars needed something – a play, drive or anything – to fire them up. That fire came in the form of senior wide receiver Donnie Avery.

Avery received a kickoff that had him in the shallow depths of the Houston end zone, after East Carolina hit on a field goal. Avery took the ball and started to run toward the right side of the field. But three Pirate players busted through 10-yards out and Avery made a quick cut to the left side.

Avery got some key blocks and cut back to the middle of the field around the 40-yard line with only the kicker to beat. Avery blew past him using the field and his speed to his advantage and the crowd of fans at Robertson Stadium received the jolt that they desperately wanted and needed.

"It (Avery’s touchdown) gave us a lot of momentum, but we were still down," head coach Art Briles said. "It inspired us a little bit, but we still had to overcome and we didn’t do it."

The 100-yard touchdown return brought Houston back within two points and brought Avery’s touchdown total for the night to three.

"We had a spark right there," Avery said. "We went out there, made a few good plays but we didn’t have enough big plays so now we need to go back to the drawing board and get it done next week."

Avery also had a 64-yard touchdown on a screen in the first quarter from redshirt freshman Case Keenum to tie the game at seven.

"I just had good blocks on it and saw the hole, I saw the crease, took it up and scored," Avery said.

Avery finished the game with 350 all-purpose yards – 189 yards receiving on nine receptions and 161 yards kick returning on four returns. But a disappointed Avery only believes in wins.

"We were trying to go out there and win. That’s all we were trying to do…it’s a team concept. We didn’t win. I can’t talk about my personal performance. We lost," Avery said.

Avery’s kickoff return perfectly set up the Cougars for the fourth quarter, but Houston could not capitalize on the momentum swing and ultimately fell to East Carolina 37-35.

Avery joins former Cougars Ronnie Powledge and Ricky Wilson with the longest kickoff returns in Houston history. Powledge and Wilson returned 100-yard kickoffs on Nov. 2, 1963 and Nov. 22, 2003, respectively.

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