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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Football

Cougars head to Denton to play Mean Green


The Cougars will head into the game without star senior quarterback D'Eriq King, who will sit out for the rest of 2019 and redshirt. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Cougars will head into the game without star senior quarterback D’Eriq King, who will sit out for the rest of 2019 and redshirt. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Houston will face off against North Texas Saturday night at Denton’s Apogee Stadium in the Cougars’ final non-conference game of the regular season before a much-needed bye week.

UH, coming off a 31-38 loss Sept. 19 against Tulane on the road, sits at 1-3 on the season and is a favorite heading into the matchup.

UNT, meanwhile, found itself victorious in Week 4 with a 45-3 dismantling of UTSA that saw senior quarterback Mason Fine toss for 195 yards and two touchdowns.

The Cougars and the Mean Green have split the all-time series between the two, with each sitting at seven wins apiece dating back to 1946.

Houston is sitting on a four-game win streak dating back to 1980 and has outscored North Texas 147-73 since then.

The team has struggled in its first three weeks due to the brutal first quarter of its schedule, but it is going into the game with more rest than it has had at any other point in the season.

Needed rest

Houston’s scheduling woes have already been well documented, and so have the effects of them.

During the 18-day span that saw the Cougars play four games to kick off the season, UH’s exhaustion has shown, especially in the second half.

During its win against Prairie View A&M and losses to Washington State and Tulane, Houston shut down in the final 30 minutes, and much of it can be attributed to the team being tired.

For each of those three games, the Cougars had only six days to rest and prepare, but, fortunately for them, they will take on the Mean Green with a full week of rest.

Although the team is going in well-rested, the Cougars are without their star quarterback.

Tune in

UH and UNT are evenly matched when it comes to scoring and total offense — the two average just over 30 points and 420-plus total yards per game.

With the announcement that senior quarterback D’Eriq King will redshirt and sit out the rest of the season with plans to return for the Cougars in 2020, however, Houston will look much different on the attack against North Texas.

Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune is projected to start against the Mean Green in King’s place, and the native of Carrollton will likely be UH’s man under center for the rest of the season.

While Tune has not seen in-game action since Houston’s 70-14 loss against Army in December 2018’s Armed Forces Bowl, he appeared in five games for the Cougars last season as a true freshman.

Two of those, losses to Memphis and Army, came after King’s late-season injury in 2018 that kept him sidelined for the remainder of the year.

The 6-foot-3-inch Tune recorded 851 yards of total offense in 2018 that included eight touchdowns in the air and another on the ground.

From the same tree

For the third time this season, head coach Dana Holgorsen will take on a familiar face.

In the loss to Oklahoma, Holgorsen faced off against OU coach Lincoln Riley, who he worked with under Mike Leach during his time at Texas Tech over 10 years ago.

Against Washington State, Holgorsen went head-to-head with the man himself — Leach, WSU’s head coach since 2012.

UNT coach Seth Littrell, another one of Leach’s disciples from his days at TTU, will be the latest member of Leach’s coaching tree to play Holgorsen and the Cougars.

An offensive mind like Holgorsen, Littrell was a running back coach under Leach before jumping around Arizona, Indiana and North Carolina before landing in North Texas as head coach.

Holgorsen is 0-2 against Leach and those under his coaching tree, but he looks to earn his first win against a former coworker this weekend.

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