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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Football

‘We’re going to be ready to play’: Dana Holgorsen confident Cougars can beat UCF


Head coach Dana Holgorsen walks on the field prior to the start of UH's season opener against Tulane | Courtesy of UH athletics

Head coach Dana Holgorsen walks on the field prior to the start of UH’s season opener against Tulane. | Courtesy of UH athletics

As UH heads into its matchup against UCF, head coach Dana Holgorsen feels more confident in who his team is shaping up to be.

Coming off a 37-21 win against a run-heavy Navy team, the Cougars are adjusting to face a fast-paced air-raid style offense in UCF.

“When they get hot, we gotta manage that,” Holgorsen said on his weekly Thursday night radio show.

Holgorsen will rely on his defense, who put on a show in the second half against Navy. They have made noticeable strides in shutting down other teams in the run game.

“I was happy with our physical nature,” Holgorsen said. “It’s night and day to what it was last year.”

Despite the improvements, many anticipate the “second-quarter onslaught” from the Knights that could hinder Houston’s defense.

While the Cougars were not as prepared during the match up against UCF last season, Holgorsen feels that the team is ready now.

“I’ve been very happy with our preparation. Our looks have been really good,” Holgorsen said. “I think we’re going to be ready to play,”

It starts in practice, Holgorsen said, where the team has managed to create a simulation of the No. 1 offense in the country. From facing off against the second-team offense to being dished out plays faster than ever, the defense has done its part.

Standouts that Houston will rely on include senior linebacker Grant Stuard, who is coming off five solo tackles and seven total against Navy.

“The closer he is to the ball, the better off he’s going to be,” Holgorsen said. “He’s doing a great job of leading our team. Things are aligning for him right now.”

While there is a lot of weight on the defense this week, Holgorsen is also very confident in his offense.

After junior quarterback Clayton Tune took a tough fall last week, which Holgorsen felt could have been avoided, the coach admitted he was proud of Tune’s competitive nature.

“He likes to play. He likes to get hit,” Holgorsen said. “He likes to be a football player.”

After Tune has passed for over 300 yards in the past three games, Holgorsen believes this is the “norm” for the quarterback and is impressed by the steady progression he sees.

Senior wide receiver Marquez Stevenson, another key for the Cougars’ offense, bounced back from what he called a lackluster performance against BYU in the Navy game, with nine receptions and two touchdowns.

“I gave him the player of the week just because he broke it open,” Holgorsen said in reference to Stevenson’s big game. “He played good. He played really good.”

With the weapons the Cougars have on both sides of the field, and this team’s effort, Holgorsen said he feels Houston is prepared to take on one of its toughest opponents this season.

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