UH defense shows strength against Texas State
An untested Cougar defense flexed its muscles for the first time against Texas State 68-28 in Saturday’s sellout opener at Robertson Stadium.
Holding the Bobcats to 180 yards rushing and 165 passing, the UH defense ripped apart a Bobcat offense led by backup quarterback Tyler Arndt and freshman running back Karrington Bush. Replacing starting quarterback Tim Hawkins, Arndt completed 14-22 and managed two rushing touchdowns, while Bush rushed for 73 yards.
The Cougar defense pressured the gaps and corners, allowing only one touchdown in the first half with the score 54-7. Head coach Kevin Sumlin and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said that there is always room for improvement.
“It was our first opportunity against live bullets,” Stewart said.
“I was excited how the first team came out. I would have liked to have played the run better with the first group in the first half, but with the speed of our offense and us going back on the field we just need to calm down,” he said.
The Cougars posted eight tackles for a loss, yielding 40 extra yards the Bobcats had to make up. The unit sacked the quarterback three times. Sumlin said that the first units did what the coaches asked them to do, and that they came out and played hard.
“We have a different philosophy right now, and the guys that were going to war in the first half, I think the production was pretty good,” Sumlin said.
Veteran linebacker Marcus McGraw led the Cougars defensively with four solo stops, one sack and seven assisted tackles. McGraw said that he and the team felt the excitement being in front of a sellout crowd.
“Cougar football is back and everybody is ready to see what we can do,” McGraw said.
“We did great. Towards the end we gave up a little, but there were five freshmen out there so they got some good experience,” he said.
“We feel like we have a lot of unfinished business out there and we are ready to take care of it.”
Highlighting Saturday’s defensive performance were three interceptions. Junior linebacker Matt Nicholson returned one interception 42 yards for a touchdown at the 2:10 mark in the second quarter.
“I kind of blacked out, it all happened so fast. But that is the kind of thing that you dream about,” Nicholson said.
Nicholson’s last two seasons ended in severe knee injuries. His presence has brought energy to this year’s team.
“Couldn’t have had a better situation for Matt Nicholson,” Sumlin said. “A guy that comes off a knee injury and gets an interception. That’s a great present for him and for our team. He is a leader for us and hopefully that’s a sign for things to come.”