UH defense gets pushed around by Golden Eagles

It all seemed to fall apart for the UH defense in Hattiesburg, Miss., last weekend.

The Cougars (5-6, 4-4 C-USA) were shredded by a Southern Miss offense led by junior quarterback Austin Davis.

Davis completed 24 of 31 for 293 yards, two touchdowns and pierced the defense 17 times rushing for 111 yards and four scores.

Unable to contain the Golden Eagles’ rushing assault, the Cougar defense gave up 349 yards on the ground in the 59-41 loss. In the backfield for Southern Miss freshman running back Kendrick Hardy sliced through the defensive front and rushed for 205 yards on 26 carries.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin wasn’t pleased with the performance on both sides of the ball. He said that the key problem was being unable to stop the Golden Eagles in third-down situations.

“We couldn’t get off the field with our defense,” Sumlin said. “It was a tough situation. Our third-down defense wasn’t very good, and our third-down offense wasn’t very good either.

“We needed to get some stops. I think the statistics speak for themselves in the third quarter from a yardage and time of possession situation. We couldn’t get off the field and we couldn’t stay on it.”

On the upside, freshman Efrem Oliphant has posted two consistent performances in a row after replacing senior Matt Nicholson at linebacker.

Oliphant, along with junior linebacker Sammy Brown, led the defense with 12 tackles each. Brown recorded one sack and two tackles for a loss.

It wasn’t just another weekend matchup for Brown. Born in Hattiesburg, it was a small homecoming for the team’s third-leading tackler. Last season, Brown played for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College before transferring to UH in the spring.

“It felt good,” Brown said. “I haven’t seen my family in a long time. I had a chance to talk to my brother and see my old teammates.”

With Texas Tech on the horizon, the Cougars are looking to end the season on a high note Saturday inside the confines of Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock. Even though the Cougars are no longer in contention for the conference championship, Brown said that the team’s philosophy hasn’t changed.

“We’ll go in on Monday, lift weights, watch film, look at our mistakes and get better at it,” he said.

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