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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Football

UH football’s Big 12 preview shows the program has a long way to go


With the loss to Kansas on Saturday, UH football has now lost six straight games against Big 12 opponents. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

With the loss to Kansas on Saturday, UH football has now lost six straight games against Big 12 opponents. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

Less than a year out from joining the Big 12, UH football has learned the hard way that the program has a long way to go if it is to compete in a Power Five conference.

Coined as UH’s Big 12 preview by head coach Dana Holgorsen, the Cougars’ two game stretch against Texas Tech and Kansas made one thing clear — UH is a long way from realistically competing for a conference championship in the Big 12.

“It’s what the future’s going to be and we have got a lot, a lot a lot of work to do as a program to where we’re going to be able to handle this every week,” Holgorsen said.

While UH showed spurts of greatness against the Red Raiders and Jayhawks, the consistency of playing 60 minutes of sound football has evaded the Cougars.

As a result, UH went 0-2 in its Big 12 stretch, falling 33-30 in double overtime to Texas Tech and 48-30 to Kansas. And the Red Raiders and Jayhawks are teams that have finished among the bottom of the Big 12 each year for over a decade.

“Have we proved where we hang in there and can compete with those guys? Yeah,” Holgorsen said. “Can we do it every week? No.”

There’s a reason UH has gone 0-6 against Big 12 opponents since 2016.

Does the execution on the field need to be better? 

Yes.

Does the team’s discipline need to shift dramatically?

Yes.

Does the program need better resources in terms of facilities and equipment?

Yes.

While all these things must improve if UH is to compete for championships in the Big 12, a big part of competing in a Power Five conference starts with recruiting different types of players than the program has typically gone after during its time jumping around Group of Five conferences.

Holgorsen has emphasized that like every team, the Cougars need players that are bigger, faster and stronger in order to make noise in one of college football’s power conferences.

“We need better players,” Holgorsen said. “And we’re headed there. We got guys in this program that are two, three, four years from now are going to be a lot different than what they are right now.”

Holgorsen, who went through a similar transition as head coach at West Virginia in 2012 when the Mountaineers left the Big East to join the Big 12, knows these changes don’t happen overnight.

While UH will be a Big 12 member in 2023, the program is years away from establishing itself as one of the conference’s top dogs.

“Everybody’s excited about the transition. Everybody’s excited about the future,” Holgorsen said. “I’ve done this before. It doesn’t take an offseason to get Big 12, Power Five ready.”

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