Despite loss, UH ‘getting closer’ to success, Dana Holgorsen says
Entering Saturday afternoon’s contest against Memphis, Houston had not played a football game in nearly 28 days due to COVID-19 related issues within its program and their scheduled opponents.
And the rust showed early against the Tigers.
UH’s offense had three holding calls and failed to convert a single third down in the first quarter alone.
After the game, head coach Dana Holgorsen compared the feeling of this game to the Cougars’ season opener, which came against a Tulane team who already had three games under its belts.
“It had a Tulane to feel to it.,” Holgorsen told the media on the postgame Zoom. “(Memphis) had been in games each of the last two weeks … (Memphis had some good and energy and they wanted to win on their home field for their seniors.”
Despite the shaky start and not being able to punch the ball into the end zone through the first three quarters of play, UH slowly crawled its way back into the game and eventually erased a 21-point deficit when junior quarterback Clayton Tune connected with Junior receiver Bryson Smith in the corner of the end zone on a fourth down with 28 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 27.
But ultimately, the Cougars comeback effort fell short as Memphis was able to drive the ball down the field in the final seconds of the game and kick a 47-yard field goal as time expired to win 30-27.
According to several players, this was a crushing loss for a UH team who had waited almost an entire month to return to game action, but Holgorsen was extremely proud of his team’s fight and resilience they showed to even make the game close in the first place.
“(I’m) proud of our guys. Proud of the way they fought,” Holgorsen said. “(They) didn’t give up. Made some plays in the end.”
Junior cornerback Marcus Jones, who recorded his first career interception as a Cougar and set the American Athletic Conference record for most punt return yards in a single season in the game, echoed Holgorsen on the team’s fight and how they never believed they were out of the game at any point.
“Fight, as a football team, is important,” Jones said. “I’ve seen teams be down (big) and individual players start becoming selfish. It’s great to see our team not becoming selfish and coming together and fighting.”
As UH hopes to schedule one or two additional games over the upcoming weeks to make up for all the games canceled, the team is committed to working hard over the next couple of weeks so that they can get the bad taste from the loss to Memphis out of their systems and end the season on the right foot.
“We’re a good team. The ball has not bounced our way,” Holgorsen said. “We got to stay the course and eventually it will. … We’re getting closer. We’re just not quite there but we’re going to stay the course and we’re going to get there.”