Amid several lasts and a disappointing year, one Cougar got a positive first.
Redshirt senior Crawford Jones garnered his first victory in his second career start at quarterback. He paced UH with 368 passing yards and three touchdowns. With Jones behind center, UH pushed the ball down field with a vertical passing game.
The team had five passing plays that accounted for more than 20 yards, including a 61-yard catch-and-run by freshman receiver Deontay Greenberry.
Jones said the Cougars’ quick start aided the success of their offense.
“We definitely got off to a quick start, and that was one of the things we needed to do this week. We were able to hit some things quick in the first two drives,” Jones said.
Against Marshall, Jones passed for 325 yards and five touchdowns in relief of redshirt sophomore quarterback David Piland, who was out with a leg injury.
Aside from Piland’s injury, head coach Tony Levine said Jones earned the position through a
combination of his practice and game performances.
But Piland was active on the roster and available to play on Saturday.
After Jones’ helmet was knocked off in the second quarter, Piland entered the game and threw a 2-yard pass to redshirt senior receiver Ronnie Williams. Jones re-entered the game on the following play.
Jones’ ascension to starter creates questions about Piland’s future in the program.
Piland has struggled the past three weeks since returning from a concussion he suffered against SMU.
In two of Piland’s past three starts, he failed to pass for more than 200 yards with 174 passing yards against UTEP and 184 against Tulsa.
Injuries have contributed to Piland’s struggles too, and has hindered the Cougars’ offense.
Several members of the offensive line have battled injuries. Redshirt junior running back Charles Sims — the Cougars’ leading rusher — has missed time, making the offense less-dynamic.
Recruits could bring competition
Still, the Cougars may have competition for the quarterback position in the off season.
John O’Korn, a 6’3” senior quarterback from St. Thomas Aquinas high school in Fort Lauderdale Florida, is verbally committed to UH. He is a three-star recruit, according to rivals.com. The Cougars are also in the running to sign Billy Cosh, a quarterback out of Butler Junior College who initially transferred from Kansas State.
Levine looks forward
Several returning players contributed heavily to Saturday’s victory.
Freshman running back Ryan Jackson rushed for 136 yards and broke the game open with his speed, and Greenberry had 97-yards receiving in the first half. Freshmen defensive backs Trevon Stewart, Erick Eiland and Adrian McDonald all caused turnovers.
Levine is excited about the future of the program.
“I’m encouraged moving forward,” Levine said. “I’m looking forward to getting them even bigger, faster and stronger.”