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Cougars show improvements at Friday Night Lights

The Cougars showed off some of the same explosiveness on offense that the team had last season with deep throws to receivers like senior Terry Mark. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Houston football’s rainy Friday Night Lights left the audience with some comfort in next year’s team but also some questions.

Accompanying the coaching changes, many players are adjusting to a new style of play with many adjustments being made on both sides of the ball.

A big question revolves around senior quarterback D’Eriq King, who missed the last few games last season due to a knee injury. King was still wearing his knee brace during Friday night’s practice but was moving well and said he’s been “feeling 100% for a long time now.”

Head coach Dana Holgorsen is making sure King is healthy and remains that way for the entire season. He had King watch videos of former Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray to model his successful protection tendencies.

“The main thing (Holgorsen) has drilled in my head is to protect myself,” King said.

Holgorsen has completely altered the offense, but something that has carried through last season is the fast pace — though the team can also slow it down to keep the defense guessing. 

The offensive line struggled last year to keep the opposing defense away from the quarterback and allowed 30 sacks, but the new offensive line distilled some confidence through their strength.

“We came in with a different offense, and I love it so far,” said senior offensive lineman Josh Jones.

New offensive line coach Brandon Jones has helped the new offense and is a big contributor to the new style of play the fans saw Friday.

“Coach Jones has taught us a few different techniques that I think will help the whole O-line to get better,” Jones said.

Jones mentioned the new offensive line coach has had a big impact on the offense but not just game-wise.

“Since the first day he got here, he started building relationships with the whole O-line,” Jones said. “I just go up there to talk to him and get to know him. That is what I like the most about him.”

Last season, Houston relied heavily on the use of the tight end, but in Friday night’s practice, the offense relied on the wide receivers. This seemed to work for the offense and gave it more options down the field.

Something that was a little worrisome was the amount of dropped balls and missed catches by the receivers, something fans will remember from last season and hope will be diminished by the fall.

In addition to changing the offense, Holgorsen transitioned the defense from a three-man front to a four-man, which will give Houston some extra man power on the line.

Senior defensive lineman Blake Young said he loves the new formation and played the four-man front in junior college and high school.

The new defensive line coach Brian Early has made the new defensive formation transfer smoothly, but he also has helped the defense get better in many different ways.

“Coach Early is a great coach, and he knows a lot about the football game. He is so smart when it comes to the different techniques beyond the D-line, like learning feet and hands and what the offense might run,” Young said.

Junior linebacker Jordan Carmouche transferred from Navarro Junior College last season and reunited with old teammates junior Deontay Anderson and King.

“Me and Deontay Anderson have been playing together since Little League,” Carmouche said. “He was telling me we were going to do something special here: we’re doing it for the city.”

The fans have to keep in mind that there have been many changes to this team, and putting it all together might take some time, but the Cougars didn’t disappoint in many aspects Friday night.

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