Roundtable: Football’s biggest problems heading into 2018
The Cougars were far from perfect last year and struggled in aspects on both sides of the ball.
But what were some of the team’s biggest issues, and how can the Cougars address them?
Staff Writer Christopher McGehee
The secondary must make major improvements if the team wants to see an uptick in wins this season.
With All-American and Heisman hopeful Ed Oliver manning the middle of the defensive line, Houston was in the top 40 in the nation in rushing yards allowed last season.
However, the secondary allowed more passing yards than a strainer allows water, which caused the team to lose several close games.
The defensive backfield ranked No. 93 out of 130 teams in total passing yards allowed, and that was with a cancelled game. If it is broken down per game, that same secondary ranked No. 119 out of 130.
In its five losses last season, Houston allowed an average of over 300 passing yards per game, highlighted by the Memphis loss where the Tigers threw for 471 yards and ran for just 30 in its 42-38 win.
The defensive backs and safeties have the athleticism to match up with anyone on the opposing side of the field. They just need refining and a boost from the team’s new arrivals.
With new players and refocusing on the fundamentals of coverage, the secondary could have enough improvement to elevate the Cougars to a double-digit win total this season.
Staff Writer Brayley Crowe
The biggest struggle plaguing the Cougars’ football squad during the 2017 season was consistency at the heart of the team in the quarterback position.
UH shuffled through three quarterbacks in junior D’Eriq King, senior Kyle Postma and graduate Kyle Allen, with all three throwing more than 100 passes throughout the season.
While the Cougars actually had a higher completion percentage than AAC division leaders Memphis and UCF , the issues arose from the lack of meaningful passes.
The trio threw only 16 touchdown passes but 12 interceptions. Similarly, the Cougars were out-gained in the air by their opponents by a margin of 135 yards per game.
However, King secured the starting position near the end of the season and during spring training.
Even more promising is the likely backup in the recent transfer, senior Quinten Dormady. Dormady started last season with the Volunteers until an injury sidelined him.
Dormady is more of a deep threat in the passing game, which adds a new dynamic compared to the dual-threat of King.
Staff Writer Jhair Romero
Houston’s defensive line has one of the best players in the nation in Ed Oliver, but still has work to do.
One of the Cougars’ most exploited weaknesses in the defensive line was the lack of relief for the All-American, who was often double, and even triple-teamed by opposing offenses.
This frequently led to the line of scrimmage becoming clogged, leaving the Cougars without a way of reaching the quarterback or stopping a runner from sweeping to the outside.
Memphis best demonstrated this tactic in the 42-38 win against the Cougars last season that saw the rival Tigers throw for 471 yards and rush for four touchdowns. The fresh faces in the unit can be the key to solving this problem.
Sophomore defensive ends Payton Turner and Isaiah Chambers could potentially have an enormous effect on the rotation.
Turner recorded 14 tackles and an interception in his limited snaps in 2017, while Chambers was one of the best high school ends in Texas before transferring to Houston and earning two sacks during the Red-White game in the spring.
If these two can contribute to the lineup, it will help get around the problems and allow for more stops behind the trenches.