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UH football: Previewing the matchup against Temple

    Redshirt freshman Stacy Sneed has emerged as the lead running back for UH football over the past month. | Sean Thomas/The CougarRedshirt freshman Stacy Sneed has emerged as the lead running back for UH football over the past month. | Sean Thomas/The Cougar

Coming off a defensive nightmare in which UH football allowed 77 points to SMU, the Cougars return to TDECU Stadium looking to get back on track against Temple.

While Temple’s record isn’t great (3-6, 1-4 AAC), UH head coach Dana Holgorsen sees the Owls as a dangerous, up-and-coming team that has started to make some noise in the American Athletic Conference under first-year head coach Stan Drayton.

“They know how to scheme,” Holgorsen said. “We better be ready.”

A look at Temple

Sacks or the lack of sacks define Temple.

The Owls’ offense doesn’t allow sacks, giving up just eight in nine games this season. The lack of sacks allowed is a credit to both the Temple offensive line and freshman quarterback E.J. Warner’s quick release time, per Holgorsen.

“(Warner) doesn’t get sacked,” Holgorsen said. “For a freshman quarterback that’s unheard of. He gets the ball out now.”

On the other hand, the Temple defense is tied for seventh nationally in total sacks with 30.

“Temple rushes the quarterback as good as anybody in our conference and probably top-five overall,” Holgorsen said.

Key questions for UH

How does the UH defense respond after the embarrassment against SMU?

UH defensive coordinator Doug Belk did not hold back when asked about the Cougars’ defense allowing 77 points and over 600 yards to SMU.

“We got whooped from start to finish,” Belk said.

Now, UH must prepare for a Temple offense that just amassed more than 600 yards on its way to 54 points against USF last Saturday.

UH’s defense, with ranks 88th nationally against the run, will have its hands full with Temple running back Edward Sayde, who is coming off  334 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in the Owls’ win over USF.

“He’s not looking to run around people. He’s looking to run through you,” Belk said. “(Saydee) has top-end speed to finish runs.”

Slowing Saydee down is a must if the UH defense is to rebound from its disaster a week ago.

On top of that, it is essential that the Cougars get some pressure on Warner.

While Warner rarely gets sacked, he has been turnover prone throwing nine interceptions on the season. Even if the Cougars can’t sack Warner, pressuring the freshman quarterback into quick decisions could lead to unwarranted throws that result in turnovers.

Does the UH air attack keep rolling?

While the defense was a disaster, the UH offense continued to impose its will on its opponents in the loss to SMU.

“It’s been constant improvement offensively,” Holgorsen said.

Senior quarterback Clayton Tune continued to shred apart defenses, amassing 638 all-purpose yards including a career-high 527 and seven touchdowns through the air against SMU.

Nathaniel Dell is still a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses while receivers Samuel Brown, KeSean Carter and a healthy Matthew Golden are playing a bigger role in the Cougars’ passing game.

The UH passing offense will be tested as it faces the No. 8 pass defense in the country.

Facing one of the country’s best pass rushing defenses, giving Tune enough time to find his receiver will be critical if the Cougars’ offense is to continue to stay hot.

Holgorsen is confident in his offensive line but knows Temple’s pass rush is at another level from compared to what UH has seen in its first nine games.

“Pass protection wise, probably the best we’ve had since I’ve been here this past week (against SMU),” Holgorsen said. “This (against Temple) is another notch up.”

How to watch

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN+. The game can also be listened to via radio on KPRC 950 AM.

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