Cougars hunker down for Hurricane in Homecoming matchup
Every week when college football coaches answer questions, it seems many are obliged to use the motto of taking it one game at a time.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin said he feels that the Cougars are at their best when they live by the cliché.
“We’ve reduced it down to one week at a time and tried to be 1-0 at the end of each week,” Sumlin said. “That didn’t happen last week. Our team responds better playing one game at a time and winning today, instead of looking around and trying to handle the big picture. We’re back to that.”
Regardless of all the injuries and hardships the Cougars (5-4, 4-2 Conference USA) have endured this season, they still have the upper hand in the C-USA West Division.
The Cougars lost linebacker Matt Nicholson to a season-ending knee injury, leaving the team with just two of its original team captains in James Cleveland and Marcus McGraw.
Last season when the Cougars were ranked No. 13, they beat Tulsa in a dramatic fashion. Kicker Matt Hogan nailed a 51-yard field goal as time expired to give UH a 46-45 victory.
Tulsa (6-3, 3-2) had a momentous 28-27 victory over Notre Dame on Oct. 30. Last weekend, the Hurricane gave Rice a 64-27 shellacking. They are in third in the C-USA West standings, and would climb up to second with a win.
“We average 40, they average 40, but it’s not going to be a tie game,” Sumlin said. “They don’t allow ties anymore. They’re extremely explosive, and over the last three weeks they threw over 500 yards a game.
“We’ve got a plan to disrupt them, they’ve got a plan to disrupt us. That’s why you play the game.”
Tulsa is led by quarterback G.J. Kinne who has thrown for 2422 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Receiver and kickoff returner Damaris Johnson could be a threat to the Cougars. Last weekend he became the all-time C-USA leader in career kickoff return yards with 3,054. He is 65 yards away from owning the NCAA record.
Sumlin said he is aware that things will not get any easier for the defense.
“They do a really great job of coaching and getting the ball to their playmakers,” Sumlin said. “Our defense has taken some hits this year and all I can say is that they’ve continued to play hard. We understand what we’re up against this week and we’ll see what happens.”
Saturday’s Homecoming game at Robertson Stadium is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff. It will be televised on CBS College Sports.