On Saturday, redshirt junior running back Charles Sims proved he could have an effect on the outcome of a football game from the sidelines.
In the two games Sims has missed, the Cougars have lost by 65 combined points and have scored 13, including Saturday’s 41-7 loss to Tulsa.
Against Tulsa, UH finished with 78 rushing yards and had trouble moving the ball.
Redshirt freshman running back Kenneth Farrow rushed for 55 yards — leading the Cougars in that category on 15 carries. Farrow said the offensive line opened running lanes early but the flow of the game took the rushing attack away.
“At the very beginning of the game we had the holes there and we were running pretty good,” Farrow said. “We couldn’t convert on third downs, just like last week we got down and started passing. We tried to stay balanced in the second half but you can’t do that when you’re down.”
Including 139 yards on the ground in a 37-6 loss to UCLA, the Cougars have averaged 108 yards rushing per game in Sims’ absence compared to 149 yards per game with him.
Sims has 849 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns and has eclipsed the century mark in four games this season but the Cougars may miss his presence in the locker room most. Head coach Tony Levine said the loss of both senior corner D.J. Hayden and Sims left UH lacking some veteran guidance.
“There’s no question we lost leadership without them,” Levine said. “They’re two of our best players and two of our best leaders. They are two of our four captains, so there’s no question, but there are also no excuses.”
Their problems extended past the ground on Saturday; the Cougars could not find rhythm in the passing game or stop the run either.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback David Piland threw for 148 yards and did not lead the Cougars on a scoring drive. Redshirt senior quarterback Crawford Jones threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to freshman running back Ryan Jackson late in the fourth quarter. Tulsa had 350 yards rushing against the Cougars.
UH had the similar issues capping drives with scores against UCLA. Its lone score came on an 86-yard run by Piland late in the fourth quarter. Piland also threw five interceptions.
With Sims in the lineup, UH’s lowest scoring output was 28 against ECU. Sims was injured late in the second quarter.
If the Cougars want to win their final two games and garner a bowl invitation, a healthy Sims is imperative. Levine said Sims’ status for next week against Marshall is still uncertain.
“I don’t know about Charles’ health at this point. I just talked to him briefly on the way out of the locker room. I’ll have more of an idea tomorrow and hopefully know more Monday,” Levine. “I hope we go from doubtful to day-to-day, but again that’s wishful thinking as I sit here in front of you.”