O’Korn’s freshman mistakes provide an opportunity for growth

The quarterback bears the brunt of criticism when losses pile up, and after a three-game skid, UH is no different.

Though his play hasn’t been the only reason UH’s offense has sputtered, freshman quarterback John O’Korn is firmly entrenched in a bad stretch.

Freshman quarterback John O'Korn will look to bounce back from a lackluster performance in his final home game against SMU Friday at Reliant Stadium.  |  Caitlin Hilton/The Daily Cougar

Freshman quarterback John O’Korn will look to bounce back from a lackluster performance in his final home game against SMU Friday at Reliant Stadium. | Caitlin Hilton/The Daily Cougar

Against UCF, Louisville and Cincinnati, O’Korn has completed less than 50 percent of his passes and is only throwing for 174 yards per game — he was benched for most of the second half on Saturday when the Cougars lost 24-17 to the Bearcats at BBVA Compass Stadium.

Inconsistency should be expected from a freshman playing the most important position on the football field, but O’Korn needs to make better decisions than what he did on Saturday.

With fewer than 10 seconds remaining, O’Korn scrambled for 6 yards, and the Cougars couldn’t return to the line of scrimmage before time expired — a game filled with offensive struggles mercifully came to an end.

Head coach Tony Levine said his quarterback needs to improve his judgment in critical situations.

“It’s a mistake we can’t make. It’s part of the learning process,” Levine said after the game. “In that type of situation, with no timeouts, we have to throw the ball beyond the first-down yardage. If we throw it short, we have to be certain we get a first down or get out of bounds.”

However, Levine said, O’Korn will grow from the mistake he made as the clock ran out.

“I know this about John O’Korn — he won’t make that mistake again,” Levine said after practice Sunday.

The skid isn’t all O’Korn’s fault.

The running game that gave defenses another element to prepare for and took pressure off O’Korn during the first eight games has been nonexistent. On Saturday, the Cougars rushed for 33 total yards. Since compiling 211 rushing yards during Rutgers, UH has failed to eclipse 150 on the ground.

Sophomore running backs Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson have become smaller factors in the offense as UH has entered the thick of its schedule and receivers have struggled with drops.

Junior center Bryce Redman said the offensive line can perform better too.

“A lot of it starts with us up front. That’s the part that we control as offensive linemen. If we give them enough time and open up enough holes, good things are going to happen,” Redman said. “As an offensive line, (for) anything that happens, we look in-house.”

UH fans should have expected O’Korn to have ups and downs when he became the starter. He was only a starter for one season in high school. There are defenses that he still hasn’t seen. The speed of the game has been a big adjustment, and it would be unnatural if he didn’t make mistakes.

Only time will tell if O’Korn becomes the next great UH quarterback, but whether he succeeds or fails, he won’t be judged by this poor three-game stretch.

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  • O’korn is now starting to play like a true freshman.. I was highly disappointed in him this past game.. he had guys open the entire game but he didnt throw the ball.. the O-line gave him time. On the bright side… NO team has outright beat UH this year, all the games they lost, they had the ball in the end.. O’korns Decisions have cost the game.. but to a certain extent its expected.. but as a coach, you have to tell your QB where to throw the ball.. Levine Job is saved this year, Lets get John a Good QB coach this offseason and watch how he lights up the new stadium next year..

    • I completely agree with getting a QB coach. I’m sure the budget hasn’t allowed for it, but it’s a travesty to not help such a talented QB.

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