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Friday, July 1, 2022

Football

Takeaways from football’s upset of Cardinals


Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. threw two touchdowns in the rout of the Cardinals. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. improved to 6-0 against ranked opponents in his career with a stellar performance Senior Night. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

The Cougars pulled off a massive upset over the then-ranked No. 3 University of Louisville Cardinals with a dominating performance that ended in a 36-10 blowout.

Houston dominated on each side of the ball and never ceased the momentum. From the opening kickoff, the Cougars showed why they are 6-0 against ranked opponents under head coach Tom Herman.

“Unbelievable win,” said head coach Tom Herman in his post-game press conference, “It’s important to know that we have not gone anywhere.”

Herman is right. The Cougars’ performance Thursday night reminded fans much more of the team that beat the University of Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 3 rather than the one that lost to the Southern Methodist University Mustangs and the United States Naval Academy Midshipmen.

That being said, there were two things that helped swing the game into Houston’s favor.

Defensive dominance

The Cougar defense tallied a season-high 11 sacks against quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Cardinal offense.

Senior linebacker Steven Taylor tallied 2.5 sacks along with 14 tackles in the final home game of his collegiate career. His standout performance went a long way in containing Louisville’s top-ranked offense.

“It felt great,” Taylor said, regarding his final home game, “I couldn’t write a better script.”

It wasn’t just Taylor’s presence who was felt. The entire defense kept the Cardinals contained and they never let Jackson get comfortable and settle into the game.

Excellent offensive play calling

The Cougar offense was always one step ahead of Louisville’s defenders, in part, due to trick plays that kept the Cardinals’ defense on their toes.

Freshman punter Dane Roy threw his first collegiate pass on faked punt that preserved a pivotal Cougar drive. When asked about the call, Herman joked that he felt like the ball was in the air for nine seconds.

Houston pulled out all of the stops to ensure a victory against the Cardinals. It’s not too often that you see a fake punt and a wide-receiver pass in the same game.

It seemed like everything went the way the Cougars wanted while they were on offense.

Senior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. delivered in his final home game, accounting for 233 passing yards with two touchdowns to go with 24 rushing yards.

“It was truly a blessing that we won” Ward said after the game, “I’m happy. I’m thankful.”

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