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Houston’s defense crucial to Peach Bowl win


Houston’s defense played a big factor in their Peach Bowl win. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

It took everything they had, but the Cougars pulled through with a 38-24 victory over the Florida State University Seminoles at Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

In the end, the story of the game was Houston’s defense and how they were able to shut down FSU’s running offense and force big turnovers.

“We held them to 16 total yards rushing in the entire game,” head coach Tom Herman said. “But to be great on third down, you’ve got to be really good on first and second down, and I think the one thing that Coach Orlando and the entire defensive staff do is they’re aggressive on first down and second down.”

The defense set the tone shutting down FSU’s star running back Dalvin Cook early in the game.

“We knew we can’t just sit there in base defense and go man for man with these guys matchup-wise,” Herman said. “We had to be creative in the ways that we stopped the run game.”

Dalvin Cook came into the game averaging 150.7 yards per game with 18 touchdowns. Against Houston, Cook was able to put up only 33 rushing yards on 18 carries.

The entire FSU offense finished with a net gain of 16 rushing yards.

“When we came into today’s game, everyone was talking about Dalvin Cook, but he’s only one person,” senior safety Trevon Stewart said. “He’s a great player, but he’s one person and there’s 11 people on the defense.”

Stopping FSU’s rushing game wasn’t the only thing Houston’s defense was able to do.

Houston finished with a total of five turnovers, Trevon Stewart had two interceptions with a forced fumble and senior corner back William Jackson III also had two interceptions.

Houston had a total of eight tackles for losses and three sacks against FSU led by junior linebacker Steven Taylor with 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Senior line backer Elandon Roberts had two tackles for loss.

“I think you wish we could have got the running game going more, had more balance. I think (that) would have really helped and not having the turnovers at times.” FSU’s head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “But when you’re backed up and behind you take chances you normally wouldn’t.”

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