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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Football

The Opposition: Previewing UH’s Thursday night showdown against Tulane


UH football looks to remain undefeated in AAC play as they prepare to take on Tulane Thursday night. | Courtesy of UH athletics

UH football looks to remain undefeated in AAC play as they prepare to take on Tulane Thursday night. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Undefeated in conference play and four straight wins overall, Houston has all the momentum as the Cougars travel to New Orleans to take on American Athletic Conference foe Tulane.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Thursday’s night showdown between the Cougars and Green Wave:

Green Wave offense

Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt has been up and down through the first five games of the season.

Pratt took the country by storm with his 296 yards and three touchdowns through the air while adding another score on the ground to nearly lead Tulane to a season-opening upset over Oklahoma.

Turnovers have been a major problem for the Green Wave quarterback in the last two games, throwing five interceptions compared to just four touchdowns.

Nevertheless, UH defensive coordinator Doug Belk knows that containing Pratt, who he called one of the best quarterbacks in the AAC, will be a challenge for the Cougars defense because of the dual-threat Pratt presents with both his arm and his legs.

“He’s a competitor,” Belk said. “He can run. He can throw. You can tell he’s what makes their team go.”

Overall, the Green Wave offense is balanced in terms of play calling, utilizing the run and pass game pretty evenly.

Although Pratt leads Tulane in rushing attempts with 50, running back Cameron Carroll is the feature back for the team and has totaled 204 yards and two scores on the ground, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.

Through the air, Green Wave spread the ball around a good bit as 13 different players have caught a pass on the season.

Tight end Tyrick James leads Tulane with 19 receptions and 289 receiving yards followed by wide receivers Jaetavian Toles and Duece Watts who each eclipsed double-digit receptions and 200 receiving yards.

Green Wave defense

The Green Wave defense has been a disaster the past three weeks, giving up 1,752 total yards over that period including 707 yards to Ole Miss and 612 yards to East Carolina.

This struggle has been against both defending the pass and the run as the Green Wave has allowed an average of more than 200 yards per game through the air and on the ground.

Opposing offenses have had field days against the Tulane defense, enforcing their will against the Green Wave with ease.

The one positive for the Green Wave defense has been the ability to force turnovers, coming up with eight through their first five games.

How does UH match up with Tulane?

The Tulane defense allows nearly twice the amount of yards per game as UH does, giving up 482 yards a contest compared to the Cougars 254.8.

This bodes well for UH running back Alton McCaskill, who is tied for the most touchdowns in the country among true freshmen with eight.

UH junior quarterback Clayton Tune, who has completed 71.3 percent of his passes on the season, has limited his turnovers since his season-opening four interception performance against Texas Tech. Tune could be set for a breakout game against a Tulane defense that has given up close to 300 yards per contest over its last three games.

While the Tulane offense presents many challenges, the Cougars’ defense has been the strength of the UH team.

UH ranks 10th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 15 points per game, and third in third down conversion percentage defense, as opponents only have converted 25 percent of third downs against the Cougars.

The Cougars defense has also excelled in creating turnovers, forcing at least one in each game this season and is coming off a three interception performance against Tulsa.

With Pratt throwing five interceptions in his last two games, the UH defense could very well put together its second consecutive multi-interception game on Thursday night.

How to watch

The Cougars match up against the Green Wave will kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night. For the second straight week, UH will be playing in primetime on ESPN and can also be listened to on KPRC  950 AM.

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