The Houston Cougars finished last season 8-5, and ended the season on a sour note with a loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in the BBVA Compass bowl. While finishing with a respectable record and bowl game was a good thing for Houston, Head Coach Tony Levine hopes to build on that success last season and have a better record this season. But the American Conference looks to be tougher this season and that could hinder the Cougars season. Continue readingPlease be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook
When Art Briles left Houston in 2007 to take over Baylor, everybody said it would be a mistake and career suicide, because nobody had been able to win successfully at Baylor since the 80’s. But Briles didn’t listen to the detractors and he took the Baylor job in 2008. While it wasn’t easy in the early go, he has since turned things around immensely and brought Baylor back into national prominence after a long hiatus, which some thought would never end. Continue readingPlease be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook
Much like North Texas Mean Green, SMU also just released their 2014 schedule to the public. While their schedule is front loaded with some tough games at the start, the middle and back end of the schedule look to be manageable and I am sure June Jones and staff would like to see an improvement in the win column this year, since last year ended with such a down note. And for the second year in a row, SMU will deal with a change in their conference opponents since the American Conference has had some teams bolt for other conferences, but at the same time they welcome in some former Conference USA opponents as well.
Tony Levine took over in 2011 after Kevin Sumlin left for the Texas A&M job; he was taking over a team who had just lost a conference championship and probably a shot at a BCS bowl. They went on to defeat a Penn State team shrouded in controversy and build hope for a better year next year. What ended up happening was a very lackluster 5-7 season, which bid farewell to Robertson Stadium in preparation for a new stadium next year. This year the Cougars will play all their home games at Reliant Stadium, and coach Levine hopes to build some success going into the new conference.
Junior David Piland was not able to reach his full potential with an injury plagued season but hopes to try and fill the big shoes left behind by Case Keenum this season and get the Cougars back on track. But this year will be tougher because of the perceived step up to the American Athletic Conference. Piland will have plenty of weapons with senior running back Charles Sims and they return their top 4 receivers from last season. But the question will be whether the offensive line, known as “the brick squad” can protect Piland long enough to hit his targets or even give Sims enough of a hole to make a play down field.
Houston has been known for putting up a lot of points in this offense and I think they will be able to score a lot of points this season as long Piland can do what his predecessors have done. Houston has a history of having great quarterbacks and Piland is looking to cement his place in that lineage. But another lackluster season will severely damage his chances of being remembered with names like Keenum, Klingler and Ware.
The defense is more depleted than the offense and it will take a strong effort from the defense this season to get the cougars back to their winning ways. The 72 points allowed to SMU last season was the most ever by any Houston defense and this year they will have a tougher time preventing another record being broken. The defense will face some of the toughest teams in the conference with games against Louisville, Cincinnati and their yearly game with an improved SMU.
The Defensive line only returns one starter and will probably be the biggest question on the entire unit. If they can just hold together long enough, maybe the Line backing corps led by Junior Derrick Mathews can make a push to keep any running game from getting going. If the line backers can find a way to keep the pressure on opposing quarterbacks, that will give the more experienced Defensive backfield to shine and force turnovers. This unit looks to be stronger than last year with three seniors all of which played in at least 12 games last year. If the Houston Defense can mesh well enough to make a few extra stops in games, then it could be the difference of another 5 win season or possibly an 8 win season.
Houston has a tough schedule at the end of the year, so if they are going to have a winning season, they will need to take advantage of the easier games at the beginning of the year.
8/30- Southern – W
9/7- At Temple – W
9/21- Rice – W
9/28- At UTSA – W
10/12- Memphis – W
10/19- BYU – L
10/26- Rutgers – W
10/31- USF – W
11/9- At UCF – L
11/16- At Louisville – L
11/23- Cincinnati – L
11/29- SMU – L
2013 Record: 7-5
During the course of a football season there will be one game, or one moment within a game which will define a team’s season. On Thursday night in a Conference USA showdown with rival Houston, the SMU Mustangs may have had the defining moment of the season. Coming off a shocking loss to Tulane last week and heading into a big game with a rival, everyone had to wonder how the team would recover.
It was evident from the early part of the game, SMU came to play and they were going to take advantage of every opportunity given to them. It started with a muffed punt in the first quarter and continued throughout the game, resulting in nine total takeaways, which ranks second all time for takeaways in a game for SMU. But the offense was seemingly hitting all cylinders also with Garret Gilbert going 23 of 38 for 265 yards and four touchdowns, and Zach Line gettting his 19th 100 yard rushing game by rushing for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
This was a total team effort from SMU and it looked like the Mustangs were ready to play on Thursday night. Which is what makes the loss to Tulane such a head scratcher, some people within the program said they thought SMU was overlooking Tulane for the Houston game. This may be the case, but when the conference race is tight and every win counts, you can’t over look one opponent.
Thursday night provided a lot of fireworks on the field with the Mustangs scoring a new all time high 72 points, and the most in the post death penalty era since they scored 58 against Cal State Northridge in 1999. If this kind of victory over rival Houston drum up some excitement for the rest of the season, then there may not be much that will. Right now the Mustangs are in control of their own destiny and could have an exciting game set up at the end of the season with West division leader Tulsa. This is a momentum building win, and a confidence builder for Garret Gilbert. It looks like June Jones has finally opened the playbook and will let Gilbert be more aggressive.
Conference USA better watch out, the Mustangs may be hitting their stride at the right time of the season, If they do, then it could be a stampede into the Conference Championship game.Please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook