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Monday, October 21, 2019

Football

Cougars’ offense improved but second half struggles remain


Although the Cougars' offense has improved, it again struggled in the second half. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Although the Cougars’ offense has improved, it again struggled in the second half. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

For Houston, its American Athletic Conference opener against Tulane in New Orleans’ Yulman Stadium was a must win.

Unfortunately for the Cougars, the Green Wave pulled off the 38-31 miracle win thanks to a UH defensive meltdown at the last minute that led to a touchdown with just three seconds left.

Although the defense continued its struggle, Houston’s offense saw some improvement in the first half.

The same could not be said for the second half.

The Cougars’ attack showed signs of its 2018 self that was one of the best offenses in the country, after having struggled in its first three games, but it again disappeared in the last 30 minutes of the matchup.

Here are the key takeaways from Houston’s loss to Tulane:

Offense making progress

From the very first play of the game, a 75-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback D’Eriq King to junior wide receiver Marquez Stevenson to give UH the early lead, the Cougars’ offense looked like it meant business.

For the first half, at least.

Houston went on to score three more touchdowns in the first 30 minutes, including an over-the-top 1-yard rush from junior running back Kyle Porter and a 35-yard scoring run from King.

The latter gave King the FBS record for most consecutive games with a passing and rushing touchdown with 15, passing former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s 14.

UH finished the half outgaining its opponent in total yards 373-161, an improvement from its 224-174 statline in the first half of its game against Washington State.

The second half would not be as kind to the Cougars, exposing an issue that has ailed them since Week 1.

Cougars need rest

The Cougars are tired, and it was obvious against the Green Wave.

Even though head coach Dana Holgorsen brushed off Houston’s scheduling nightmare that included four games in 18 days, every second half since the Prairie View game has seen UH slow down significantly.

Against Tulane, it became evident early in the third quarter that Houston would come down with its second half woes.

The Cougars scored no points in the period and would get outscored 3-24 by the Green Wave in the second half.

Luckily for Houston, it is heading into a more forgiving portion of its schedule.

The team will have nine days to prepare for its Saturday night game against North Texas and will have a bye week before returning to TDECU Stadium for its Oct. 12 matchup versus Cincinnati.

Defense still struggling

Houston’s defense in its first three games were not too hot, and it wasn’t against Tulane either.

The Cougars tallied four sacks for 16 yards in the loss but was dismantled by the Green Wave in the final 30 minutes.

Ranking No. 123 out of 130 in the country in total defense, UH continued its defensive struggles that has led to three losses already in 2019.

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