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Saturday, March 6, 2021


Roundtable: Which player had the greatest impact against Rice?

The Cougars accumulated 484 yards of total offense in the first meeting against Rice since the 2013 season. Players like Linell Bonner had a huge impact on the night. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The coveted Bayou Bucket trophy’s proverbial lease at the University of Houston has been renewed for another year with the Cougars making easy work of their feathered foes Saturday night with a 38-3 victory.

The glorious bronze bucket, made of hand-crafted wood, smells of both rich mahogany and victory and has been in the Cougars’ possession since 2010.

Contributions abounded in the 35-point onslaught of the Owls on Saturday. With significant inputs from members of both the Cougars’ offense and defense, the victory cannot possibly be attributed to one athlete on either side of the ball.

Determining a single player with the greatest contribution proves to be no easy task. Fortunately, The Cougar’s sports staff enters the fray to answer the question: Which player had the greatest impact against Rice?

Assistant sports editor Reagan Earnst

Senior linebacker Matthew Adams anchored the defense against Rice and played a huge role in limiting the Owls to just three points. Although sophomore Ed Oliver gets the most attention from fans and media — albeit understandably — the senior defensive captain proved Saturday that the Cougars’ defense has more than one star.

Adams recorded 11 total tackles, including two for a loss of yards. Not stopping there, the Missouri City native deflected a pass and recovered a fumble to help seal the win for the Cougars.

Overall, the defense limited Rice to only 242 yards of total offense, including just 135 on the ground despite 35 attempts. Adams’ presence both on the edges and through the middle were a huge reason for the defense’s success against the run-oriented Owls’ offense.

Following the win against Rice, Adams leads the team with 19 total tackles — a category he paced Cougars’ defenders in last year. Through two games, the defense ranks seventh in the nation in opponent points allowed in large part due to the impact Adams had against Rice on Saturday.

The tandem of Adams and Oliver is shaping up to be one of the best in college football. Containing both on a routine basis will prove to be virtually impossible for most offensive coordinators.

Sports reporter Anthony Cianciulli

As a former B-team receiver on my freshman high school football team, you could say I know a few things about the position. So as a self-proclaimed expert on the matter, I can safely say that Linell Bonner is an animal.

The senior receiver had a monstrous game Saturday, tallying up more than 130 yards on 10 receptions — both of which were team highs. After the game, the sure-handed pass catcher witnessed his career totals move to 24th all-time in receiving yards and 16th all-time for receptions at the University. This is an incredible accomplishment given how little time he’s been on the field.

Despite only starting 13 games in his college career, the Houston native has managed to post ridiculous statistics, including a 17-reception performance against Memphis last year that saw him eclipse 230 yards on the night.

The one and only criticism of Bonner would be his lack of touchdowns, having only scored nine times in his career. This can be accredited, however, to the style of play-calling he experienced under the Herman regime, which limited his red zone looks.

Bonner has made the most of his opportunities and continued to improve each year on the field. If he is able to pair another 1,000-yard season with double digit touchdowns, the senior might just hear from NFL executives following his graduation.

Sports editor Frank Campos

There isn’t much you can say that hasn’t already been said about Kyle Allen’s near perfect performance against the Owls. The Texas A&M transfer, who finally got his shot with the Cougars after more than a year and a half of waiting on the sidelines, has shown exactly why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school.

Although he had a rough start to the season with two interceptions against Arizona, he still managed to lead the team to a victory. In his second start, he was locked in and completed 31 of 33 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Allen came away from the game with a 93.9 completion percentage, which is the highest in school history for a starting quarterback.

The night went well for the Arizona native, who kept finding wide receivers in the open field. Linell Bonner corralled 132 of Allen’s yards and was a mainstay in the offense. Although Rice is considered one of Houston’s rivals, they again didn’t put up much of a fight Saturday. I expect Allen to continue to have numbers like this throughout the season and push the Cougars to a top 25 ranking if they can continue to win games.

Allen now has 534 yards and three touchdowns this season and an 86.2 completion percentage. This may not be the Aggies team he expected to be throwing for in his college career, but it seems like a perfect fit under head coach Major Applewhite.

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