Monday, August 16, 2010
Conference USA 2010-Houston Cougars
2009 record: 10-4 (6-2)
Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin (3rd season, 18-9)
Offensive Coordinator: Jason Phillips (3rd season) and Kliff Kingsbury (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Stewart (1st season)
2009 Bowl Game: Armed Forces Bowl, lost to Air Force 47-20
Offense: Case Keenum is the man at QB. Keenum is one of only 2 players in NCAA history to throw for 5000 yards in consecutive seasons. He will be a top 5 favorite to win the Heisman in 2010. WRs James Cleveland, Tyron Carter, and Patrick Edwards all return at WR, and all of them busted the 1000 yard mark in 2009. Charles Sims and Bryce Beall also both return at RB, and they are the last two freshmen if the year in CUSA. 4 linemen also return, so let the fireworks begin in Houston. This unit ranked 1st nationally in total offense, and averaged over 433 yards passing per game last season.
Defense: This could be a problem. As great as the offense was, the defense was that bad. The Cougars ranked 111th nationally in total defense in 2009. DE Matangi Tonga and LB Sammy Brown are two JC transfers that have been brought in to try and shore things up in 2010. LB Marcus McGraw returns from a season in which he logged 157 tackles. CB Jamal Robinson is the only sure thing as a starter in the secondary. Brian Stewart is the former Dallas Cowboys DC, and he has been brought in to change the defensive mindset. this unit has to stay healthy to have a shot, and if the D does falter again, than it won't matter how good the offense is, this team will be in a middle tier bowl.
Special Teams: Matt Hogan basically is the PK by default, as there is nobody else with any consistent ability. As many as three different punters could see the field in 2009.
Wins: 9/4 Texas State, 9/10 UTEP, 9/225 Tulane, 10/9 Mississippi State, 1/16 @ Rice, 10/23 @ SMU, 10/30 @ Memphis, 11/13 Tulsa
Toss Up Games: 9/18 @ UCLA, 11/5 Central Florida, 11/20 @ Southern Mississippi, 11/27 @ Texas Tech
There is not a game on the slate that Houston should outright lose. They will have a chance in every game, but the defense will tell the tale. The schedule is challenging, but not inhibiting.
Outlook: The defense needs to be so much better than it was, and if it is, than Houston could be in range to crash the BCS party. The offense will be awesome again, but Keenum must avoid games like the bowl game where he threw 6 picks. We could see this team i the Fiesta Bowl, or we could see them in the Armed Forces Bowl again.