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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Football

UH QB Clayton Tune praises UCF offense ahead of Cougars’ matchup with Knights


Houston quarterback Clayton Tune dives and extends towards the end zone for the touchdown as a BYU defender closes in. The matchup was held on Oct. 16 at TDECU Stadium | Courtesy of UH athletics

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune dives and extends towards the end zone for the touchdown as a BYU defender closes in. The matchup was held on Oct. 16 at TDECU Stadium | Courtesy of UH athletics

Houston enters its hardest conference test yet on Saturday afternoon when it hosts a UCF team that has a red-hot offense at TDECU Stadium, but for junior quarterback Clayton Tune, his focus will be on leading his own team and scoring every chance he gets.

The Knights enter Saturday’s contest with the No. 1 offense in the entire country that is setting record numbers as they’re averaging 646.8 yards per game and 30 offensive touchdowns, which is on pace to break the all-time record for total offense in a season set by the Andre Ware-led 1989 Houston football team that averaged 624.9 yards per game. 

In comparison, Houston’s offense this season, which is 28th in the country, is averaging only 447.7 yards per contest.

“It’s impressive,” Tune told reporters about UCF’s pace on Wednesday via Zoom. “You obviously have got to be in great condition to go that fast, so you have to give them props for that. I don’t really focus on that too much, but it is impressive for sure.”

The Knights are coming off a dominant 51-34 win over Tulane, and while they currently sit at only seventh in the American Athletic Conference standings, they’re still one of the premier teams in the conference, with a sense of urgency to keep winning.

Despite the really good numbers, Tune said that he does not feel any pressure to have to keep up with the Knights’ offense.

“I trust our defense,” Tune said. “They’re going to play well, and they’re going to make stops. Regardless of the opposing offense, we want to score every time that we have the ball.”

While UCF’s biggest flaw this season has been its defense, ranking only 10th in the AAC, the Knights’ unit is opportunistic when it comes to takeaways as it has 14 total, which is second in the entire nation.

Tune said that Houston has put an emphasis on taking care of the ball since the Tulane game when the team turned the ball over five times. Since then, the Cougars have only committed a turnover once.

The 6-foot-3-inch quarterback will also enter Saturday’s game with a bit of a hot streak of his own. Against Navy, he became the first UH quarterback since Case Keenum in 2011-12 to throw for over 300 yards in four consecutive games.

Tune so far has nine total touchdowns and only two interceptions on the season.

Houston also has another strong offensive weapon in senior receiver Marquez Stevenson, who is coming off a two-touchdown, 129-yard performance.

But the Knights have given the Cougars problems in the past, specifically in the two redshirt senior defensive backs, Aaron Robinson and Richie Grant, who will be assigned with defending Stevenson for most of the game.

Tune is confident though that he will be able to find the open man on Saturday regardless of what UCF does to defend Stevenson. He trusts the full arsenal of weapons that Houston has around him.

“We have guys all over the field that can make plays so it’s not really concerning,” Tune said. “I’m just going to go through my progressions and do everything I’ve been taught and coached this week. Put the ball in play and give it to the right guy.”

In last season’s meeting, the Knights pulled away from the Cougars in the third quarter by outscoring them 21-0 in the period. Houston held a 23-21 advantage at the break. 

While the result in 2019’s contest was disappointing, Tune is focused on learning from it and has one key takeaway.

“Just finishing the game,” he said. “We were ahead of them at halftime, and I just thought we came out and played really well and explosive in the first half, and then we just kind of ran out of gas in the second. Finishing the game is something that’s going to be vital for us.”

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