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Wednesday, May 31, 2023


UH-USF: Highs, lows of Houston’s dominant win

Houston cornerback Shaun Lewis eyes the backfield as USF prepares to snap the ball in Saturday's contest at TDECU Stadium. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Houston cornerback Shaun Lewis eyes the backfield as USF prepares to snap the ball in Saturday’s contest at TDECU Stadium. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

After suffering back-to-back losses, Houston entered TDECU Stadium with the goal to snap the streak and it did just that against USF on Saturday afternoon.

The Cougars (3-3, 3-2 American Athletic Conference) jumped on the Bulls (1-7, 0-6) from the opening drive and never looked back as they won 56-21.

Here the highs and lows of UH’s game against USF:


Opening drive

After weeks of slow starts from the Houston offense, the unit jumped out on USF right off the gate with three chunk plays, two of which were on the ground game.

A 26-yard carry by senior running back Mulbah Car and then a 21-yard run on the keeper by junior quarterback Clayton Tune had UH instantly deep in the Bulls’ territory.

On just the third play of the game, Tune found junior receiver Bryson Smith streaking down the middle of the field and he hit him for the 28-yard touchdown that put the Cougars on the board first.

Smith’s touchdown was the first one the offense had scored in the first quarter since the first week of the season against Tulane.

First Quarter Rock & Roll

For the first five games of the season, Houston and its first-quarter blues have been on the lows side of this list every single time but that was not the case for Saturday’s game as the Cougars led 14-0 after the first quarter.

After the strong opening drive, UH’s defense was able to carry the momentum and force the Bulls to punt on their opening drive and were able to hold them off all quarter long. Three drives in the period for USF all ended in punts.

As for Houston, two of its three first drives ended in touchdowns and the one that didn’t end at the USF 30-yard line where the Cougars decided to go for it on fourth down but failed.

Houston did most of its damage on the ground, which had been another struggle for them throughout the season, but on Saturday, UH rushed for 129 yards in the opening period. Tune was the leading rusher with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown in the quarter.

Houston’s lead against USF was the first time all season where the Cougars led after the first 15 minutes of the game.

Clayton Tune

The 6-foot-3-inch quarterback had a strong start to the season, but after a couple of down weeks, he is back on the highs end of a game.

From the opening drive, it was evident that Tune was going to be heavily involved in Houston’s gameplan, and the Carrollton native delivered.

Rushing for 120 yards for the entire game, Tune did a little bit of everything for the Cougars. He even caught his first career pass, which went for a 21-yard reception. He rushed for two touchdowns, and he also threw three touchdowns.

Marcus Jones

The 5-foot-8-inch junior from Spring had a strong outing against the Bulls, which included eight rushes for 75 yards.

Jones’ big highlight, however, came in the third quarter. After the UH defense forced the Bulls to punt on their first drive of the second half, he was out to return, and he broke it off for the score, making history in the process.

Jones’ 72-yard touchdown, which was his first career punt return for a score, and was also the first punt return that Houston has turned into a touchdown that was not blocked.

UH defense

After being torched by UCF and Cincinnati the past two weeks, the Cougars’ defense responded in a big way against USF, smothering the Bulls all game long, and also forcing two fumbles, one of which was returned for the touchdown by Parish.

The unit held USF to only 21 points,. The Bulls had 359 total yards.


Kyle Ramsey’s missed field goal

In a game like this for Houston where almost everything appears to have worked for UH, yes, this is nit-picky, but a low nonetheless.

The 6-foot-3-inch kicker took the responsibility was No. 1 in the depth chart for Houston against USF, and for the most part, was solid as he hit all eight of his extra-point kicks, but he also missed a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter.

Tune’s pick-six

Despite all the good throughout the game, Tune had one mistake in the fourth quarter as he tried to throw a pass to senior receiver Keith Corbin.

The pass was instead intercepted by USF junior defensive back Bentlee Sanders, who returned it for a touchdown.

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