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Five things to watch when the Cougars visit Louisville


Junior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. arrives at TDECU stadium for season opener against Tennessee Tech. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar


Ahead of arguably their toughest match this season, here are five storylines that make the Cougars’ match against the Cardinals interesting.

Secondary struggles: This Saturday, the Cougars are facing a far more potent offense than Tennessee Tech University. Houston had seven starters returning from a defense that ranked 15th nationally in scoring last season (20.6 points per game allowed) and 20th in total defense (343.4 yards per game). Overall the defense wasn’t too bad, but they gave up too many big plays mainly to Brock McCoin, who finished the game with nine receptions for 264 yards. A lot of those may have came in garbage time, but with seven returning starters the Cougars should be able to cut back on those defense break downs.

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson: It’s hard to tell that quarterback Lamar Jackson is a true freshman. In the Georgia Dome against No. 6 Auburn University, Jackson ran for 106 yards and helped make the game interesting for University of Louisville in the second half. Head coach Bobby Petrino liked what he saw so much that he named him the starter for the home opener. Jackson has a similar game to that of Greg Ward, so it will be interesting to see how the true freshman does in his home opener against the Cougars.

O-line:  With all the flashy numbers Houston put up offensively Saturday, the Cougars’ offense is still expected to be the only weak point throughout the season. The Cougars have little experience in the interior of the line, which could be trouble when they head to Kentucky to match up with Louisville’s defensive front. Of course, having a quarterback like Greg Ward Jr. dancing around in the back field can nullify that problem on any given play.

Chance Allen: The Oregon transfer was overshadowed by a huge day from Demarcus Ayers and third string quarterback turned wide receiver Kyle Postma. But Allen, coming from a perennial powerhouse in Oregon, has all the talent to make himself a household name among the Houston faithful. Many thought that receiving core would take a step back this year, so the Cougars need Allen to come in and make a difference sooner rather than later.

Tom Herman: There’s no doubt Herman’s head coaching debut was a successful one, as the Cougars got a 52-24 win over the Golden Eagles, a game where the offense racked up over 600 total yards. However, this Saturday is a completely different animal. Going against one of the better coaches in college football, Bobby Petrino and a solid Louisville squad, Herman will face his first real test.

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