Commentary: Cougar offense shows its strength early
Two weeks into this young season, the Cougars have managed to stay undefeated. They’ve accomplished this despite being underdogs in their matchup against Arizona and withstanding a first half scare against Rice.
While the defense has been solid with Ed Oliver as the anchor, the offense is the true star of the show so far.
The offense has been extremely productive to this point in the season. It has scored 45 points in each of the games so far and has excelled in making big plays. So far, UH has scored a touchdown in every quarter except one.
The first quarter of the season was the only time the Cougars have been kept out of the end zone.
Since then, they’ve scored multiple touchdowns in four quarters and scored double-digit points in five quarters. In the latest contest against Arizona, UH had created a 31-point lead before halftime. The score might’ve been much larger if a few dropped passes had been catches instead. It seems the strength of the UH offensive attack is a surprise to everyone but the Cougars themselves.
This potency is the result of an increased tempo and balanced production from the offensive personnel.
A committee of four controls the running game for the most part, but receivers and quarterback D’Eriq King also contribute to the efforts on the ground.
Against Rice, there were seven players that ran for double-digit yardage, and three runners picked up more than 40 yards on the ground. Three players rushed for 60 yards or more against Arizona.
The rush game was effective in both games and has produced only 20 yards less than the passing attack has. It is also a safe option as UH runners have yet to fumble the ball.
While the run game was producing against the opposing defenses, the passing offense was also making its presence felt.
Five receivers already have touchdowns in their stat-line for the season, and many of the big plays for the offense were created in the pass game. The defenses were continually tested, and the offense was rewarded for its pressure as four receivers caught passes that were over 40 yards.
The passing attack has racked up seven touchdowns already, and the Cougars are counting on that production to continue.
The offense has shined, but the brightest star so far is junior quarterback D’Eriq King.
His ability to run and read defenses has been crucial to the team’s success. He is personally responsible for 10 of the Cougars’ touchdowns.
Against Arizona, he broke his personal best with four passing touchdowns. He also added two rushing touchdowns.
In two games, he already has 566 passing yards and is completing almost 60 percent of his throws. His arm also looks strong as he’s dropped off several deep shots into the defense.
After being the third option to start last season, King has blossomed as a star for an offense that has looked intimidating in the early stages of this year.
The hard part will be sustaining this production.
While it’s not reasonable to score 45 points every game, the offense still has to produce at a high rate. There were times in both games when the offense was not effective. UH allowed Rice to take a lead into halftime, and there were several drives in a row that ended in punts in the second half of the Arizona game.
There might be valid excuses for the struggles in both games. Rice had already played and won a game before it met up with UH. The Owls came out looking more prepared and ready to play than their cross-town rivals. Also, backup quarterback Quinten Dormady led the offense in a big part of the second half against Arizona.
However, there will be no excuse if the offense falters at any point in the season. Although UH only has a small sample size, the offense has shown that it can produce at a high level, and any drop in production might bring about problems for the team later in the season.
The offense will have to prove itself every week until it defeats all doubt in its effectiveness. But for now, the Cougars will be content after showing what could eventually be one of the most potent offenses in the nation.