UH-Cincinnati: Highs, lows of Houston’s second straight loss
Houston was undermanned from the moment it entered Nippert Stadium, missing numerous players, which included two seniors in Marquez Stevenson and Payton Turner. Cincinnati did exactly what was expected as it steamrolled through UH, 38-10.
The Cougars (2-3, 2-2 American Athletic Conference) struggled to move the ball for much of the first half, and despite a late flurry towards the end of the second quarter, the Bearcats (6-0, 4-0) managed to overwhelm Houston and put the game away by halftime.
Here is what was good and what was bad in UH’s loss to Cincinnati:
Before diving into the struggles, there were a few bright spots, and one of those was the 5-foot-9-inch senior running back.
Porter ran the ball well in the first half, tallying up 54 yards and a touchdown at the break.
In the second half, he did not get as many chances, but he still finished with 69 yards for the game.
The freshman punter is back on the good side of this list, and will probably need ice for his leg on the entire flight back to Houston.
Wilkins had to punt seven times, with his longest being 45 yards, in the Cougars’ loss. He also pinned the Bearcats inside of their own 20-yard line numerous times.
Offense First Quarter Blues
Like it has been the entire season for Houston, the Cougars’ offense was unable to get anything going in the first 15 minutes of the game.
UH’s first three drives ended in three punts, which gave punter Laine Wilkins a good chance to showcase his skills.
Houston had only 49 total yards after the first quarter against Cincinnati. In comparison, the Bearcats had 134.
While the Cougars have struggled to move the ball all season long, Saturday’s game was the first time all year in which they were unable to score any points in the opening quarter.
Houston’s rushing defense
After starting the season strong against the run, holding Tulane and BYU, who both had strong ground games entering their games against UH, to under 100 yards, the Cougars’ defense has been awful at containing opponent’s rushing attacks.
At halftime of Saturday’s game, Cincinnati had 222 yards on the ground, 166 of which were from senior running back Gerrid Doaks.
Houston gave up huge chunk plays on the ground, all by Doaks, which included a 72-yard run on the opening drive and a 48-yard rush on the final full drive of the first half. Both led to touchdowns.
The second half was not much better as the Bearcats were able to go on long drives to continue to add to their lead, which included a 17-play drive that took off over nine minutes of game time to start the third quarter, and another 10-play drive that capped off with another rushing touchdown by Ridder.
In all, Houston allowed Cincinnati to rush for 342 yards, including two 100-yard rushers in Doaks (184) and Ridder (103).
The final 60 seconds of the first half
After junior quarterback Clayton Tune found sophomore receiver Nathaniel Dell open down the field and connected on a 54-yard pass, and were down inside of Cincinnati’s 11-yard line.
While Houston had to settle for a field goal despite being that far deep into the Bearcats’ territory, that was not the biggest letdown for the Cougars.
On the kickoff, Cincinnati was able to get a great return and it started the drive at midfield. Doaks then ripped off a 48-yard run that had the Bearcats in scoring position, which they converted on a four-yard catch by sophomore tight end Josh Whyle.
Houston then got the ball back and fumbled on the kickoff, which allowed Cincinnati to have an extra heave at the end of the half, which did not result in points, but it encapsulated the bad end to the half.
Instead of trailing by 11 heading into the break, Houston trailed by 18.