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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Football

UH’s nonconference play leaves Dana Holgorsen with many questions


In all of his 32 years of coaching, Dana Holgorsen said he's seen things he's never seen before through UH's first four games of 2022. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

In all of his 32 years of coaching, Dana Holgorsen said he’s seen things he’s never seen before through UH’s first four games of 2022. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

If you didn’t watch the game, you would have thought UH had come out on the losing end of the Bayou Bucket based on the way Dana Holgorsen aired out his frustrations during his postgame press conference.

“I don’t know what to say,” Holgorsen said. “We’re somehow 2-2.”

While a D’Anthony Jones strip sack that led to a scoop and score by Nelson Ceaser lifted UH past Rice on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium, the Cougars created even more questions regarding whether they have what it takes to be the legitimate American Athletic Conference title contenders. 

Self-inflicted wounds and lack of discipline had been the theme for UH in nonconference play and that once again remained prevalent against crosstown rival Rice.

“A lot of stupid stuff once again,” Holgorsen said. “ I ain’t taking responsibility for that. At some point, we’ve got to quit doing that.”

For the fourth straight game, the Cougars committed double-digit penalties with 10 for a loss of 110 yards against the Owls.

“That’s four games in a row with double-digits (penalties),” Holgorsen said. “I’ve coached the same way for 32 years and this s— is hard. It’s getting irritating.”

The UH’s defense’s inability to hold its ground in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, which was on full display in its games against UTSA and Texas Tech, was once again an issue.

Down seven with no timeouts and 24 seconds left on the clock, Rice got the ball at its own 6-yard line needing to drive 94 yards. A 19-yard pass followed by a 15-yarder and capped off by a massive 51-yard completion and the Owls were suddenly at the Cougars’ 9-yard line with one second remaining.

Even though the UH defense got the stop as time expired to secure its seventh straight Bayou Bucket victory, Holgorsen was in utter disbelief that his defense even gave Rice a chance when it seemed like the Owls had no life left.

“The inability to be able to play defense with no time on the clock. God dang,” Holgorsen said.

All of this could have been avoided in the first place if the UH offense could have picked up a single yard on third-and-one to put the game to rest.

It’s every game,” Holgorsen said. “How about offensively we get a dang first down and victory (formation) it. Our short yardage offense was pitiful … Offense, (why can’t) we get in Victory formation and close the damn game out? We couldn’t. So we give them the ball and they almost go (94) yards in 24 seconds. I haven’t seen anything like this ever.”

Senior quarterback Clayton Tune needed only one word to sum up the Cougars’ stretch of nonconference games — drama.

“We’ve definitely made it more stressful than it needs to be,” Tune said.

There’s a case to be made that the Cougars should be 4-0 but there is just as strong of a case that they are lucky to not be sitting at 0-4. Ultimately, UH’s repeated mistakes have resulted in five overtimes and a 2-2 record.

All this has left Holgorsen feeling worn out and searching for any answers he can find to get things moving in a positive direction for the UH program as it heads into AAC play.

“I’m tired of doing it, man,” Holgorsen said. “I’m tired of yelling at them. I’m tired of motivating them. I’m tired of all that crap.”

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