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Friday, August 12, 2022

Commentary

Five take-aways from the Cougars’ early season


WEB-Justin-Tijerina-IMG_2368

Head coach Tom Herman has gotten off to a successful start at Houston, but won’t be satisfied yet. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

The UH football team sits at 2-0 after wins against Tennessee Tech University and the University of Louisville to start the 2015 season. Here are five take-away’s from the Cougars’ play thus far.

Greg Ward, Jr. has progressed as a quarterback:

In his time as a quarterback last season, Ward was often too quick to break out of the pocket and scramble for yards.

So far this year, the junior passer has showed much improved awareness and footwork in the pocket, stepping up to climb the pocket as the defense closes in and keeping his eyes down field on his targets.

Another area that Ward had to improve on the most during the offseason was his pre-snap reads, a quality that head coach Tom Herman stresses in all of his quarterbacks.

Ward has seemingly come into his own in this area and the end of the Louisville game is a perfect testament to that.

On the final play of the scoring drive, Ward recognized the coverage that the Cardinals’ defense showed and adjusted the play at the line.

The touchdown completion for the win was a result that speaks for itself.

The team shows depth at receiver:

After losing the top targets from a year ago, there were major concerns surrounding the position entering the season.

To start 2015 though, the worries have been alleviated with several receivers playing well in their new roles.

The biggest impact has been from junior Demarcus Ayers, who has made his presence known offensively.

Ayers has been the go-to receiver for Ward and has posted 174 yards and one score on 18 catches.

Newcomer Chance Allen has been a nice addition on the outside and is averaging 15.3 yards per catch and over 53 yards per game.

The defense has some work to do:

In the first two contests, new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s unit has had both good and bad moments.

The defense has excelled against the run, giving up just 99 yards on the ground at a rate of 1.7 yards per attempt to both opponents.

Turnovers have also been positive for UH with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

The passing game has not been as kind to the Cougars.

The team didn’t fare great against the Cardinals, allowing 325 yards and two scores through the air to an offense that moved the ball at-will on the Cougars at times.

If Orlando and company want to finish strong this season, they have to shore up the passing defense.

The offensive line is paving the way:

Coming into this season, the offensive line’s ability to protect the quarterback was an area of concern after this group gave up 34 sacks in 2014.

Though it is just a two game performance to go off of, the line has been solid in both pass protection and run blocking so far.

The line has given up just three sacks and has held up well against the blitz, providing a clean pocket and allowing Ward and the receivers to gain 295 yards through the air per game.

They have also paved the way for the ground game to thrive.

The running offense is averaging 249 yards and three touchdowns per game, at 4.93 yards per run.

Farrow rebounded after a lackluster opener:

In the season opener, Farrow struggled against the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles.

The senior running back carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards but did not have the burst or power that made him a 1,000 yard rusher in 2014.

Whether it was the result of wear-and-tear from training camp or simply pressing too hard to make things happen, Farrow had an uncharacteristically quiet night.

However, week two proved to be a return to form for the three-time captain.

Farrow racked up 27 carries for 109 yards, the eighth 100-yard rushing game of his career and once again, looked like the workhorse back the running game has been built around.

Following a bye-week, the Cougars will return to action against the Texas State University Bobcats Saturday at TDECU Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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