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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Football

UH-BYU: Highs, lows of Cougars’ first loss of 2020


BYU junior receiver Dax Milne skies over UH junior cornerback Shaun Lewis. Milne then raced to the end zone for the 78-yard score. | Courtesy of UH athletics

BYU junior receiver Dax Milne skies over UH junior cornerback Shaun Lewis. Milne then raced to the end zone for the 78-yard score. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The UH football team showed flashes of brilliance against No. 14 BYU on Friday night, but was unable to string together an entire 60-minute performance for the second week in a row, and it cost Houston.

The Cougars once again found themselves trailing by double-digits in the first quarter but turned it around in the second, and most of the third quarter, until BYU took complete control of the contest in the final period and carried the momentum to victory.

Here is what was good and what was bad in Houston’s first taste of defeat in 2020:

The Highs

Clayton Tune

For the second week in a row, the 6-foot-3-inch UH junior quarterback threw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, as well as rushed for an additional score and even cut down on his turnovers against BYU.

The Carrollton native led Houston’s offense to score 23 straight points against BYU’s defense that entered the contest ranking fourth in fewest yards allowed per game among FBS schools.

During Houston’s final scoring drive, in particular, Tune orchestrated a magnificent 98-yard drive, in which he had to overcome being pinned back into his own end zone and a string of penalties and pauses.

The 16-play drive ended with a five-yard rushing touchdown as Tune evaded swarming BYU defenders left and right.

Tune’s performance, however, did have a few cracks. Specifically in the fourth quarter when the offense was unable to muster up a drive to answer BYU’s scoring drives, which ultimately left them in the dust and stranded at 26 points.

“(BYU’s defenders) were starting to twist upfront, which was something we hadn’t seen on film,” said Tune on what gave him and the rest of the offense troubles in the final period of the game. “We’ll get back to the drawing board and get it fixed.”

Despite the weak finish, Tune’s overall performance was good and his comfort level in year two of head coach Dana Holgorsen’s offense appears to be strong.

Christian Trahan

The junior tight end did not sugar coat his words after the loss to BYU.

“We just beat ourselves,” Trahan said. “We didn’t finish. It’s on us. We just got to get better.”

Despite the strong statement after the loss,  the 6-foot-3-inch Sulphur, Louisiana, native had a solid individual performance. He led the Cougars in receiving yards with 69 and caught a touchdown in the first half.

Payton Turner

The senior defensive lineman for UH continues to be the anchor of the defense after making six total tackles and recording a sack against BYU.

Turner’s sack on BYU junior quarterback Zach Wilson caused a nine-yard loss that ultimately stalled a drive that appeared destined for points. On the following play, BYU committed a penalty and were forced to punt the ball.

Turner has three sacks in the first two games of the season for Houston.

Neutral

UH’s defense

The Cougars’ defensive unit appeared to be a lock to be a high for the team up until the fourth quarter when it allowed BYU to score 22 points.

Houston’s offense really hampered the defense in the final period with many mistakes that gave BYU a short field on multiple drives, so it is hard for the defense to take the brunt of the blame

At the half, Houston had held the No. 2 scoring offense in the nation to only 14 points, and entering the fourth, BYU only had 21 points.

UH’s defense stopped BYU on multiple one-yard to-go situations, which included a big fourth and one at its own two-yard line in the first half, however, BYU’s Wilson finally exploded in the final quarter and showed why he should be in the Heisman conversation in 2020.

The Lows

Special teams

Houston’s third facet of the game struggled tremendously against BYU.

Freshman punter Laine Wilkins had a punt that only had a net gain of 13 yards from the back of UH’s own end zone that put BYU at Houston’s 23-yard line, and put it in prime position to drive and get the go-ahead touchdown.

That was not the only mistake of the night from this unit. At one point, a fair catch was called for at its own one-yard line.

BYU also did a good job containing senior receiver Marquez Stevenson in the kickoff game as he only had three returns that gained only 48 yards, an average of 16 per return.

Penalties

Houston struggled with penalties all game long, committing 10 that cost it 113 yards.

While there were some questionable calls, many were self-inflicted wounds from pass interference on defensive backs to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on senior running back Kyle Porter for headbutting a BYU defender.

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Patrick Paul committed three penalties that cost Houston 29 yards.

After the game, Holgorsen talked about how his team needs to focus on poise and technique to avoid committing those same mistakes.

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