Scouting the opposition: Houston’s first AAC matchup of the season
The Cougars are 3-0 and have a chance to go 4-0 for the first time since the 2013 (8-5) season. Today, the Cougars look to continue their strong start on the road against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-1).
Tulsa will be coming off a 52-38 loss to the University of Oklahoma Sooners. Though Tulsa lost by two touchdowns, the game was closer than the final score showed. The score at halftime was 31-24 in favor of Oklahoma, but Tulsa tied the game with a touchdown early in the third.
Tulsa’s junior quarterback Dane Evans passed for 427 yards and four touchdowns on the day. He completed almost 70 percent of his passes (34/51) with no interceptions and had a QB rating of 83.8. Although 400 yard passing games are not a surprise in college football these days, Evans performed this well against a stout Oklahoma defense that only allowed 240 yards in its first two games combined against Akron and Tennessee.
The Cougar secondary will be busy all day as Tulsa’s senior wide receiver Keyarris Garrett has 454 yards in three games, tied for No. 8 in the NCAA rankings. Junior wide receiver Keevan Lewis has 342 yards as he placed No. 29 in the NCAA rankings and the two are the only receiver duo to rank among the top 10 in receiving yards per game.
Tulsa’s running game is also strong as they rushed for 176.0 yards, 161 of which senior running back Zach Langer accounted for. The combination of passing and rushing yards resulted in 588 yards of total offense against Oklahoma.
Houston has allowed opponents to only gain 379 yards per game, but the Cougar defense will be put to the test as Tulsa has averaged 607 yards over the course of three games, placing No. 4 in the NCAA rankings. In order to limit the Golden Hurricane offensive attack, the Cougar defense will have to get a lot of pressure on Evans, as well as stuff the run.
Defensively, Tulsa may struggle against the high-powered Houston offense, which ranks No. 7 in the NCAA in yards per game (591). The No. 65 ranked Tulsa defense allows an average of 305.3 passing yards, as well as 270 rushing yards. Seeing that Houston averages 304.7 yards in the air as well as 286.0 on the ground, the Cougars should have a slight advantage.
Special teams looks to be a flaw for the Golden Hurricane football team. In three games, Tulsa has only accumulated 102 kick return yards while allowing 329 kick return yards. They also have not returned a punt all year. If UH can find ways to exploit Tulsa’s special team weaknesses, it could be a massive advantage.
The key for the Cougars will be to find ways to stop the Golden Hurricane passing game. If they can do this and limit the running attack, the Cougars will give themselves a good chance at going 4-0 on the season.