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Saturday, January 20, 2018


Issues on offense, defense exacerbated away from home

Xavier Maxwell looks on as David Piland takes off and scrambles for yards against UTEP last week.  |  File photo/The Daily Cougar

Xavier Maxwell looks on as David Piland takes off and scrambles for yards against UTEP last week. | File photo/The Daily Cougar

In UH’s three true road tests, falling behind in the first half has become the new normal.

Against UCLA, ECU and SMU the Cougars were outscored, by a joint 73-21 in the first half.

On Saturday, ECU built a 28-7 lead en route to a 48-28 victory on sophomore quarterback Shane Carden’s four first half touchdown passes. The Cougars’ offense did not match the production.

UH head coach Tony Levine said the team’s inability to get going early changed their strategy.

“We weren’t efficient on first down. We got into a lot of second and longs because we weren’t running the ball well enough on first down,” Levine said. “We had some dropped passes and couldn’t get into a rhythm. Then we got behind and had to play catch up.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback David Piland finished with 356 yards and four touchdowns but the Cougars did not score until five seconds remained in the first half. UH’s running game was nonexistent in the second half with a single rushing attempt.

Redshirt junior running back Charles Sims was injured late in the second quarter and his loss contributed to the Cougars low second half output on the ground. But Sims only had five carries before the injury, which is well off the 24-touch pace that Levine said he wants Sims to receive each game.

In addition to their own struggles on the ground, the Cougars had problems stopping the run, which has been a road issue all season.

ECU junior running back Vintavious Cooper found running lanes all game, finishing with 150 rushing yards.

The Cougars have given up 100-yard rushers in each road contest. In the Rose Bowl, UCLA redshirt senior running back Jonathan Franklin rushed for 117 yards while his backup, redshirt junior Damien Thigpen, rushed for another 95 yards on only nine carries. SMU senior running back Zach Line scampered for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

UH hasn’t improved defending the pass on the road either.

UCLA’s redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns. SMU junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who was a sub-50 percent passer before the game, threw four touchdowns passes and played arguably his best game as a collegiate player.

The Cougars needed to win to continue to control their destiny in Conference USA. Piland said each game was crucial.

“Every game gets us that much closer to accomplishing the goals we want to accomplish…We need to go play and perform at our highest level for these next couple games and definitely bring our ‘A’ game,” Piland said on Tuesday. “There are no excuses for turnovers or poor plays.”

Now their future is less certain. The Cougars now need to win two of their next three games to become bowl-eligible.

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  • Coog Jr.

    Sims has been doing great, but he can’t run the show all the time. With David Piland not being able to throw more accurate long passes, we have been relying on the runnin game not utilizing our wide receivers including Greenberry. We need to restructure the team before it’s too late by letting Levine go along with his entire inexperienced coachig staff and benching Piland. AD MR responsible for making a bad decision on hiring the wrong coaches should be looked at again to see if he’s the right guy that can get our program to a higher level of competence. So far so bad.

  • Coug78

    I try never to criticize the student athletes. I have met some of these young men and find that they are fine young men whom I am proud to have as fellow Coogs. I have not met David Piland yet, but from what I have seen he is a quality young man that wants to succeed for his team and his University. These young men put in untold hours (4 to 6hrs a day) in the program and on top of that they attend classes and try to find time to study. Most professors will not cut them any slack just because they are athletes. They do get extra tutoring and assistance which is as it should be. The coaches are working equally as hard and so I try not criticize them during the season. Once the season is over, they are certainly fair game along with Mack Rhoades.

  • LessonsOfHistory

    Dear Coach Tony Levine:

    Please take this as constructive criticism and not a personal attack.

    When you ask your team to focus on the remaining games (a 3-game season now, using your rationale), aren’t your athletes forgetting what it means to learn from the lessons history (including the losses to UCLA, SMU and ECU)?

    Sometimes, one has to REMEMBER the embarrassing losses to AVOID the embarrassing losses, don’t you think?

    A Fan

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