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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Football

Roundtable: The Cougar predicts Dana Holgorsen’s first year


Head coach Dana Holgorsen is heading into his first year at the helms of the Cougars. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Head coach Dana Holgorsen is heading into his first year at the helm of the Cougars. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The 2019 season should be another interesting one for Dana Holgorsen and the Cougars’ football team.

Not only does Houston have three top-25 opponents on its schedule, but this season will also introduce new head coach Dana Holgorsen. Holgorsen will be UH’s fourth head coach in six seasons. In eight seasons at West Virginia, Holgorsen had a 61-41 record, trailing only College Football Hall of Famer Don Nehlen for most wins in the history of WVU.

The Cougar’s sports section offered its predictions for Houston’s upcoming season.

Sports editor Jhair Romero

This is a tough one.

UH now has one of the best offensive coaches in college football with its addition of Holgorsen, but no one, including the Air Raid aficionado, can escape first-year woes.

Houston is sure to improve with the new offense, but the defense being installed by the coaching staff makes me nervous for the team.

Of course, the Cougars’ defense was already shaky under former head coach Major Applewhite, letting up over 35 points per game in 2018.

Just like any other team going through the transition UH is going through right now, the first couple games might not be pretty, and with Houston’s season-opener being an away matchup against Oklahoma, this rings especially true.

Given some of the tougher games on the Cougars’ schedule, I can’t see the team doing any better than 9-3. If the team suffers another mid-season slip up like 2018, then it can easily drop to 8-4.

Staff writer Armando Yanez

Houston still remains one of the top teams in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars lost three players to the NFL draft and a total of 21 seniors, but there’s no doubt that the depth and experience on their roster can take them as far or even further than they did last season.

A season-opener on the road against Oklahoma will be a tough test for UH right off the bat, but a good performance can spark the team and lead them on a run through the season.

Tough matchups against Washington State, UCF and Memphis will be a challenge for UH, but with the talent and chemistry of the returning players coming back together, a legitimate argument can be made that the Cougars can take a step further than last season and push for a spot in the AAC Championship Game.

The Cougars will go 10-3 overall and make an appearance in the conference championship game.

Staff writer Brayley Crowe

This season will not just be the year of Holgorsen, as the Cougars welcome back senior quarterback D’Eriq King, who had a sensational year last season until a torn meniscus benched him for the final two games.

King is No. 40 in ESPN’s best players in college football and No. 10 for quarterbacks. Despite missing the final two games, King accounted for 50 touchdowns, with 36 in the air and 14 on the ground. Another phenomenal offensive season, mixed with a coach with a history of success under top-tier quarterbacks, could see the Cougars bowling in another high-profile game.

While the Cougars did begin the 2016 season with a monumental defeat of Oklahoma in NRG, the trip to the No. 4 Sooners’ home in Norman may just be too much. When the Cougars battle the Cougars in NRG two weeks later, however, I do expect Houston to defeat No. 23 Washington State.

As for in-conference opponents, the trip to Orlando to take on No. 17 UCF may be the game of the year in the American Athletic Conference, which the Knights might just squeak out. Houston may drop one more conference match, whether in the AAC title game or regular season, to finish the season 9-3 or 10-3.

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