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Lack of communication key to Houston’s struggles against UCF’s fast-paced offense

UH senior defensive lineman Payton Turner delivers a big hit on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson | Courtesy of UH athletics

UH senior defensive lineman Payton Turner delivers a big hit on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The Houston defense’s focus has been on stopping the run game and forcing the opposing offense to throw the ball and through three games the unit had been successful in accomplishing that goal.

Entering their matchup against UCF, the Cougars’ defense had only allowed 314 yards rushing, which ranked 18th best in the nation.

But Saturday afternoon against UCF, Houston allowed 353 rushing yards, which was more than they had allowed through its first three games combined.

Several members of the UH defense credited the Knights’ success on the ground to the lightning-paced tempo the UCF offense goes at.

“Probably 80 percent of their big plays were us not being lined up in time,” senior linebacker Grant Stuard said after the game. “We weren’t able to make them one-dimensional cause we couldn’t even get lined up and get on the ball.”

Senior safety Deontay Anderson echoed Stuard’s point, saying how the defense was still looking to the sidelines for a play call while the ball was being snapped.

“Our problem was most of the time just trying to look to the sidelines and didn’t try to get lined up while they were going fast,” Anderson said.

While the Cougars defense struggled to line up before the Knights offense snapped the ball, they practiced all week preparing for the tempo and said the tempo they faced in practice was very similar to the tempo UCF went with.

“Actually no, not really,” Anderson said when asked whether there was a big difference in the tempo they prepared for in practice and the actual tempo they faced in the game. “They did really everything we studied for.”

So lack of preparation was not Houston’s problem according to the players, rather, the problem was not being able to be on the same page.

“It was just a lack of communication on our behalf if I’m being completely honest,” Stuard said. “The coaches put us in a good position. We just had to communicate. Everybody needs to communicate. We got to get there instead of just a few guys talking to one another.”

If the defense had communicated with each other Stuard said that UH would have held the Knights offense to only 14 points, but it was due to their lack of conversation with each other that UCF’s offense put up 681 yards and 44 points.

The Cougars’ defense will go back to the drawing board this week and try to correct their mistakes as they prepare to face a Cincinnati team that is currently ranked No. 7 in the country.

“We have to keep getting better top-down,” Stuard said. “…We feel like we can beat anyone we play. It’s just about us.”

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