Matt Miller" />
side bar
Monday, September 25, 2023


Coogs go back into C-USA fray

The Cougars have defeated some quality competition this season, but staying motivated for a game against a lesser foe is their theme this week.

After beating Mississippi State, 31-24, on Saturday, UH joined Utah and Louisville as the only non-BCS schools to earn three victories over BCS teams in a season since the BCS system began in 1998. Despite this accomplishment, the Associated Press No. 23 Cougars will enter Saturday’s game against Tulane sitting in fourth place in the Conference USA West Division.

This is exactly what motivates center Carl Barnett and UH (4-1, 0-1 C-USA) to avoid a letdown against the struggling Green Wave (2-3, 0-2).’

‘You can’t take anyone lightly. You win the games on Mondays, Tuesdays -- the days before you play,’ Barnett said. ‘We can’t relax. We need to stay on everything: film, weights (and) practice. Right now, you see guys doing extra afterwards. That feeling we had after our first C-USA game, it didn’t feel good.”

Although many fans do not appear to be excited about Saturday’s 2:34 p.m. kickoff, head coach Kevin Sumlin understands the importance of earning a win at the Superdome in New Orleans.’

‘(This game is) significant because it’s a conference game. It is significant because our goals start with winning the West,’ Sumlin said. ‘We’re playing a league opponent, and that should say enough right there. We have to go over there and play very, very well, regardless of what’s happened up to this point or what this team has done.”

History not on Tulane’s side

Tulane has lost 36 straight games against top-25 opponents and was dismantled by BYU, 54-3, in its only game against a ranked team this season. Although most statistics point to an easy win for the Cougars, Sumlin said his players have shown plenty of urgency during practice.

‘This week presents a different challenge,’ Sumlin said. ‘I like the way our team is approaching things. I like our edge. Just talking to the guys, our team feels that we still have a lot to prove.’

As the season moves along, Sumlin expects more players to suffer injuries. Defensive lineman David Hunter and offensive linemen Jacolby Ashworth and Jordan Shoemaker were hurt last week, and linebacker Matt Nicholson’s season ended during the 29-28 win over Texas Tech.

These injuries will challenge the Cougars’ depth, placing young players in unfamiliar roles. Quarterback Case Keenum was pleased with how the backups performed against Mississippi State and hopes they can perform at a high level for the rest of the season.

‘I was very proud of the guys on the offensive line who did well (against Mississippi State).’ Keenum said. ‘Alaska (offensive lineman Jaryd Anderson) stepped up and played hard, as well as a bunch of guys on defense and special teams. We’re going to be counting on a lot of guys to step up and make plays.’

Passing game to be tested

Keenum will face Conference USA’s top passing defense Saturday, as the Green Wave has allowed only 197.2 passing yards per game this season. Although the Cougars rank No. 1 in the nation in total offense (569.2 yards per game), Sumlin realizes Tulane’s experience will give it a chance to pull off the upset.

‘This is the No. 1 pass defense in our league,’ Sumlin said. ‘Three of their four defensive linemen are seniors, with one junior. Two of the three linebackers are seniors, with one junior. The two safeties are seniors and the two corners are juniors. This is a veteran football team that’s played a bunch of games against Southeastern Conference opponents and in our league.’

The Green Wave’s offense will attempt to exploit UH’s weak run defense, which has allowed more than 300 yards in its last two contests. Running back Andre Anderson is averaging 89.2 yards per game, and it could be tough for the Cougars to keep him from topping this number Saturday.

‘Andre Anderson is one of the better backs in the league,’ Sumlin said. ‘He’s another big, fast back that we’ll have to face. He’s not as big as the guy last week (Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon) but he may be faster.’

After dropping its conference opener to UTEP on Oct. 3, UH may have to finish the season without another blemish to earn a spot in the conference championship game. Like several other seniors, linebacker C.J. Cavness believes hard work will go a long way toward helping him finish his collegiate career on a high note.

‘You have to realize that every game is as important as the next,’ Cavness said. ‘Pretty soon, it’s going to be over for all the seniors and me, and I think about that every day. We’ve seen that taking plays off gets us beat, and that’s not what we want to feel.’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top ↑
  • Sign up for our Email Edition

  • Polls

    What about UH will you miss the least this summer?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...