Houston players say in order to beat Navy, strong improvements must be made on discipline
After UH’s first loss of the season to BYU, head coach Dana Holgorsen said that his team had to focus on its discipline after committing 20 penalties combined in both of its games, and on Wednesday, a few Houston players reiterated that sentiment and said it has been the focus as they prepare for Navy.
“It’s more important than ever and it’s going to be going forward, but especially this week with this team,” junior linebacker Donavan Mutin told reporters on Wednesday afternoon via Zoom. “It is probably the most disciplined team that we will play.”
When Mutin says that the Midshipmen are well disciplined, he is not just handing out compliments to them. Navy will enter Saturday’s contest having committed only two penalties all season long. The Midshipmen have played five games in 2020.
In comparison, Houston enters averaging 10, which has cost it 98.5 yards a contest.
While the BYU game for Houston was a disappointing loss considering that it played well for a majority of the contest and held a double-digit lead towards the latter end of the third quarter, the Cougars have looked at the film and put it behind them.
“We learned a lot from the BYU game,” senior offensive linemen Braylon Jones said. “I had a lot of mistakes, a lot of penalties that we could have prevented. Going to this game we’re looking to be more disciplined cause we are playing a very disciplined team, and cutting down on the penalties.”
When it comes to improving the penalty issue, a big part also includes the veterans on the team giving advice to younger players and that is something Jones said he has done to those on the o-line, including redshirt freshman Patrick Paul, who committed three penalties that cost Houston 29 yards against BYU.
“You always want to encourage him to be physical, but to kind of tone it down a little bit with the extra aggressiveness,” Jones said. “I think he just gets excited out there and then all you have to do is tell him to tone it down, but you never want to take away his physicality.”
Navy’s unique offense will test the Cougars’ discipline all afternoon long. Houston’s players will have to be in control of themselves not only to avoid penalty mistakes but also to limit the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense from picking up chunk yardage.
“If we’re going to win this game then we will have to improve,” Mutin said. “That’s a spot of emphasis we’ve been working on in practice and it’s been talked about in every meeting.”