Clayton Tune runs through USF, will look to keep momentum
On just the second play of the game, junior quarterback Clayton Tune galloped behind his offensive line and found plenty of open green space for a 21-yard gain off a designed run.
It was a sign of things to come, especially in the first half for the 6-foot-3-inch quarterback. In the following play, Tune hit junior wideout Bryson Smith for a 28-yard touchdown, and Houston (3-3, 3-2 American Athletic Conference) never looked back against USF (1-7, 0-6).
“We just came out and dominated on both sides of the ball,” senior wide receiver Keith Corbin, who caught a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tune, told reporters via Zoom after the game.
For the contest, Tune finished as Houston’s leading rusher with 120 yards, ran it in for two touchdowns, caught his first career pass that went for a 21-yard gain, and also showed that he can throw it around the field now and then.
The Carrollton native, who said earlier in the week that his message to the offense was to stay positive because they were close to an explosion, also finished with 165 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.
“If people play man coverage like that and don’t account for the quarterback, Clayton Tune is going to make them pay,” UH head coach Dana Holgorsen said.
When it comes to how aggressive the Cougars started the game, particularly when it came to using Tune in the running game, Holgorsen said it is something that is not new for the UH offense.
The head coach also said that UH always has the option to include him in the running game, which is dictated based on how opposing defenses cover Tune.
“He’s a good runner,” Holgorsen said. “He could have had this game against (UCF) too. He just didn’t see it.”
In addition to Tune’s strong performance, senior running back Marcus Jones also had a good game, finishing with 75 rushing yards off eight carries.
“When you can run it well, it opens up the passing game … the big guys did a good job of stepping up,” Tune said.
Holgorsen also touted the success on the ground game itself, particularly Jones’ performance, who had to fill a big hole in the rushing attack after senior running back Mulbah Car went down during the contest with an injury.
Houston was already shorthanded at the position as starting senior running back Kyle Porter did not dress out for the game.
As Houston celebrates the win against USF, the players will look to bottle the momentum and carry it up I-45 when they face SMU next Saturday.
For Tune, UH’s practices leading up to USF were the difference-maker, the quarterback said, Houston had energy throughout the week and focused on getting the offense going.
Now that UH’s small losing streak and first-quarter blues are gone for at least one week, the Cougars have something to build on.
“Take that confidence and that aggression to practice and get ready for next week,” Tune said.