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Roundtable: Grading UH’s performance through the bye

The Cougars, who sit at 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the American Athletic Conference, are in danger of suffering its first losing season since 2012. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Cougars, who sit at 3-6 overall and 1-4 in the American Athletic Conference, are in danger of suffering UH’s first losing season since 2012. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Ten weeks of college football have come and gone.

In Dana Holgorsen’s first year as the program’s head coach, the Cougars have gone 3-6, lost their star quarterback and are potentially on their way to UH’s first losing season since 2012.

Houston, on rest for its bye week, still has three games in 2019, but The Cougar sports staff wasted no time in grading UH’s performance through nine games.

Sports editor Jhair Romero: C

The Cougars’ season has been a disappointment for many.

UH has just three wins in 2019, with one coming against FCS-level Prairie View A&M.

The other two? North Texas and UConn — FBS bottom feeders.

But to grade the Cougars through nine games, you must look deeper than their .333 winning percentage and 1-4 American Athletic Conference record.

For one, Houston is without star quarterback D’Eriq King, who threw for 663 yards and rushed for another 312 before deciding to redshirt his senior season after UH’s 38-31 loss to Tulane.

Having to rely on sophomore Clayton Tune and freshman Logan Holgorsen since then, UH has gone 2-3.

The Cougars have also suffered from many injuries. Tune injured his hamstring against the Mean Green and sat out against the Huskies.

“We’re running out of people,” the older Holgorsen said after Houston’s loss to UCF. “We’re running out of bodies. We’re running out of excuses. We’re running out of everything.”

There have been bright sides, however.

In its losses to Cincinnati, SMU and UCF, Houston gave three AAC heavyweights a run for their money, which is no easy task with a program going through one of the toughest rebuilds in the country.

All things considered, the Cougars get a C for their 2019 so far.

Senior staff writer Andy Yanez: D+

At 3-6, the Cougars have battled inconsistency playing through a schedule filled with ranked opponents.

The Cougars’ struggles go beyond just facing tough opponents, however. One of the issues this season has been their defense.

Houston’s opponents are finding enormous success in scoring and are averaging 32.6 points and 460.6 yards of total offense per game, which is the worst in the AAC.

A huge factor playing into these issues is the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Houston is the second-worst team in the AAC for sacks, as it has tallied only 14 this season.

UH has also been unable to produce opportunities for its offense to shine and has only had five interceptions during the season.

The offense itself has also struggled with consistency, especially in the third quarter where the Cougars have been outscored 88-45 by  their opponents this season.

Houston has struggled to protect its quarterbacks from the opposing defense, having allowed 30 sacks so far.

Despite the struggles, there have been bright spots for Houston, like junior receiver Marquez Stevenson, who leads UH in receiving with 666 yards and six touchdowns, which may or may not be a bad omen.

UH has also had a phenomenal one-two punch at running back with junior Kyle Porter, who has rushed for 525 yards, and senior Mulbah Car, who rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns against UCF.

With Houston still adapting to Holgorsen’s system, consistency on both sides of the ball is needed for Houston to finish out strong.

Overall grade: D+

Staff writer Brayley Crowe: C-

Nine games through the 2019 season, the best way to describe the Cougars’ campaign would be “close, but not close enough.”

The decision from King to sit out the season was a massive blow to Holgorsen’s UH debut, as the would-be senior entered the season as a long-shot Heisman contender.

Coming into the season, UH was chosen to battle for an AAC West title, earning 14 of 30 votes for first and 162 overall, both marginally second to Memphis.

Instead, Houston sits second-to-last in the West, with its sole conference win a drudging 24-17 defeat of UConn, one of the conference’s worst teams. Despite the 3-6 record and the necessity to win out to be bowl eligible, the Cougars really haven’t looked that bad.

An 18-point loss at then-No. 4 Oklahoma and a seven-point downfall against then-No. 20 Washington State — granted, UH had King in both games — in non-conference play show the pieces are there for Houston.

Likewise, in UH’s other two losses to ranked opponents, the Cougars admirably hung around, though they ultimately suffered a 15-point defeat from Cincinnati, which saw the Bearcats score 17 points in the fourth, and a three-point win by SMU.

As a whole, the Cougars’ schedule this season has been littered with tough opponents, especially for a first-year coach, but with a 3-6 record, nothing higher than a C- can be awarded to this season’s squad.

But don’t quit on Holgorsen already. The future is bright.

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