Starting fast key for the UH offense to get back on track
Through five games this season, the Houston offense has struggled to find a rhythm early, scoring a total of 13 first-quarter points in 2020.
As a result, the Cougars have trailed behind in every game after the first quarter, which puts more pressure on the Houston offense to produce points over the remaining three quarters of the game.
This has to change if the Cougars, who are currently 2-3 and 2-2 against the American Athletic Conference, want to bounce back and finish off the second half of their season strong and head coach Dana Holgorsen knows it.
“I’ll keep talking about starting fast,” Holgorsen said in his Zoom media availability with reporters on Monday morning. “I’ll keep talking about settling in. I’ll keep talking about preparation and having a good week of practice.”
While Holgorsen is committed to emphasizing the importance of coming out of the gates firing and starting fast during practices in preparation for game day, he understands that there is only so much he can say and do. It is up to his offense to go out and execute.
“I’ll keep talking fast and getting out there and trying to move the ball,” Holgorsen said. “And then our guys got to get out there and they got to execute it better.”
Part of overcoming their first-quarter woes will require the Cougars’ offense, which has been hit by the injury bug all season and taken out some of their key playmakers, to get some more of their other players involved in different roles.
One of these role players who Holgorsen has high hopes for is junior receiver Bryson Smith.
“Bryson Smith did some good things,” Holgorsen said when asked about Smith’s performance against Cincinnati. “He made a couple of plays and he’s gaining confidence and he’s going to continue to get better. I like where he’s at right now.”
Another guy that Holgorsen expects to step up as the season progresses is junior receiver Jeremy Singleton, who missed Houston’s two prior games before returning to action against Cincinnati.
“Jeremy was rusty,” Holgorsen said. “He had a couple of drops and he slipped up a couple of times and left early, but you know that’s what happens when you miss a couple weeks.”
But Holgorsen is confident that Singleton will be able to shake off the rust in practice and will continue to improve as he gets more playing time.
Along with having receivers set to help the passing game, Holgorsen has also emphasized the importance of establishing the run game so the offense can have a balanced attack and he has been impressed with how senior running back Kyle Porter has run the ball lately.
“I thought Kyle Porter ran hard,” Holgorsen said regarding the game against Cincinnati. “Got tough yards against a really good front that adds people to the box that can tackle at a high level.”
While players like Porter have had bright moments for the Cougars’ offense, it will take a full team effort for the offense to come out and establish a rhythm early so that they can take a lead rather than have to dig themselves out of a first-quarter deficit they have been forced to do all season.
But all this starts on the practice field as Houston’s offense must focus on its execution so that they are completely locked in come game tme, which is something Holgorsen is committed to doing.
“We’ll keep working at it and get there,” Holgorsen said.