Grading the Cougars: Running game paces squad to win


Redshirt freshman running back Javin Webb was one of five Cougars to score a touchdown in the team’s 47-14 win over UNLV on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium. Webb had 10 carries for 54 yards. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

UH evened its record at 2-2 after defeating UNLV 47-14 on Saturday night at TDECU Stadium. Here are the grades and an in-depth evaluation of the offense, defense and special teams, including standout players who made an impact.

Offense: A-

The Cougars’ dominant rushing attack recorded 399 rushing yards, which included junior running backs Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson both eclipsing the 100-yard mark.

Farrow and redshirt freshman Javin Webb found yardage in between the tackles, and Jackson and senior receiver Daniel Spencer showed their speed on the outside to rip off huge gains. The unit showed balance and didn’t rely on sophomore quarterback John O’Korn to throw more than 40 times. The Cougars are 7-2 when he does throw for that amount, compared to when he doesn’t, where the team is 1-5.

O’Korn responded with two touchdown passes in the second half to turn a one-possession game into a blowout after tossing two interceptions in the first half. O’Korn completed just 44 percent of his passes, but I was impressed on how he responded.

Defense: A

The aggressive unit posted a solid performance with the defensive line, the linebackers and the secondary, allowing just seven points after UNLV’s first touchdown on its opening drive.

Junior cornerback William Jackson stepped up and, with the help of constant quarterback pressure, held UNLV star receiver Devante Davis to just one catch for zero yards. Senior Efrem Oliphant led the game with 11 total tackles. Senior Derrick Mathews was right behind him with seven.

The constant quarterback pressure and good coverage led to UNLV quarterback Blake Decker completing just 44 percent of his passes, while throwing two interceptions, including one to junior safety Adrian McDonald. McDonald has recorded a turnover in seven consecutive games, dating back to last season.

Special Teams: B

UH’s coverage unit didn’t allow a return longer than 22 yards, junior kicker Kyle Bullard nailed two field goals (but missed his third PAT in the last two games), and the Cougars’ special teams did enough to close the deal.

Sophomore kick returner Demarcus Ayers returned a kickoff for 38 yards and, overall, kept the offense into a manageable starting field position, which was at its own 29-yard line.

For improvement, it is important that Bullard sustains consistency in converting PATs, and sophomore placekicker Ty Cummings not kicking out of bounds, which set the Rebels’ offense at its own 40-yard line.


Junior running back Ryan Jackson:

Jackson had his best and most productive game of the season after accumulating 173 all-purpose yards (147 rushing, 26 receiving) to help the Cougars even their record.

Jackson got to the outside and quickly dashed up the field with rushes of 33 and 55, with the help of solid offensive line play.

His lone catch of 26 yards went for a touchdown in the third quarter to started the route, which was a one-possession game coming out of halftime.

Junior running back Kenneth Farrow:

Farrow eclipsed 100 yards rushing for the second time in three games with his 113 yards and touchdown to help accumulate a 399-yard,team-rushing performance.

Farrow’s game-long, 28-yard run came on his first carry, similar to his 55-yard run against Grambling State, which was also on his first carry.

Adrian McDonald:

McDonald recorded four tackles and returned an interception 29 yards to negate a threating UNLV possession, as his team’s defense and solid coverage from the secondary suffocated receivers and kept frequent quarterback pressure.

UNLV quarterback Blake Decker posted his worst performance of the season, completing just 44 percent of his passes while throwing two interceptions: one to junior defensive end Eric Eiland in the third quarter, and McDonald’s fourth quarter one that kept his seventh straight game of recording a turnover alive.

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