Team looks to depose Tulsa
One would think the Houston football team would be looking for revenge going into a game against the team that destroyed its Conference USA title hopes last year.
The Tulsa Golden Hurricane handed Houston a 56-7 defeat in Oklahoma last year and beat Rice two weeks later to clinch the western division, preventing Houston from repeating as C-USA champions.
One would think the Cougars would head into Saturday’s game against Tulsa at Robertson Stadium with last year’s contest fresh on their minds.
However, the opposite is true for Cougar sophomore quarterback Case Keenum.
"Honestly, I forgot a lot of last year’s game. That is one thing that coach (Sumlin) told me – ‘Good quarterbacks have amnesia,’" Keenum said. "I will forget about the last play, the last game, no matter if it is good or bad. … We are concentrating on this year and our goals that we set this year. We want to win the West."
Houston (5-4, 4-1 C-USA) got one step closer to that goal with a 42-14 Homecoming win over Tulane on Saturday. The Cougars overcame the slow starts that plagued them for much of the season and went into halftime with a 21-7 lead, scoring three more times in the third quarter to put the Green Wave away.
"Obviously, we are excited coming off a good win on Saturday night," head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We got off to a decently fast start and carried that through the game."
Sumlin said the Cougars will have to get off to a similar start against Tulsa to have a chance at beating the Golden Hurricane.
"Tulsa comes in here as an offensive juggernaut. They average 52 points a game," he said. "They have a good scheme, they spread the ball out and make you worry about a whole bunch of stuff."
Tulsa’s key to their offensive production is senior quarterback David Johnson, eighth in the nation in total passing yards with 2,983, and has thrown for 33 touchdowns this season.
However, Sumlin isn’t ignoring Tulsa’s presence on the ground either. Tulsa senior running back Tarrion Adams averages 76.44 yards per game and has five touchdowns on the season.
"When you look between the numbers, they are also the number one rushing team in the league," Sumlin said. "As soon as you get concerned with a quick strike, you look up and they are running for almost 250 yards a game.
"They run a variety of different things, and you can’t prepare for it all… and they have had an extra week, so there will be a whole bunch of things that we won’t be able to practice for. You can expect anything."
Sumlin said one of the keys to being successful against Tulsa will be utilizing the players who have seen more time on the field because of injuries.
"Offensively, we had a bunch of people contribute (against Tulane), and that’s what this time of year is about," he said. "We had a bunch of guys contribute that have been in some backup roles and have come on and played."
Senior tight end Mark Hafner, who was named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week for the second time this season on Wednesday, led the Cougars with a career-high 91 yards on 11 receptions against the Green Wave. Hafner was one of four receivers Keenum found in the end zone against Tulane, and Keenum said all of Houston’s offensive tools would be needed against Tulsa to keep the Cougars’ run for the division title going.
"It is the next step for our four-game season we have at the end," Keenum said. "This is a big step in staying in the hunt for the west title."
UH vs. TULSA
When: 7:00 p.m. Saturday
Where: Robertson Stadium
On the air: CBS College Sports, AM-KBME