One player, one problem, one preposterous prediction and one pick for TU-Houston...
More than one this week. Try seven. Defensive linemen Tyarise Stevenson, Cullen Wick, Anthony Goodlow, Deven Lamp, Elijah Taylor, Everitt Rogers and Joseph Anderson.
All of these guys must help make up for Jaxon Player’s absence while the TU star lineman sits out the first half after last week’s targeting penalty.
Houston has outscored opponents 45-7 in the first quarter of its four games. The Cougars will want to start fast to gain control of their first tricky road game of the season. Quarterback Clayton Tune, fresh off engineering Houston’s come-from-behind win over Navy last week, will want to start fast.
The Hurricane must pressure Tune without Player in Friday night’s opening half. That falls especially on Wick, Stevenson and Goodlow, all of whom have multiple sacks this year.
Houston isn’t exactly dynamic running the ball, with a No. 95 ranking in FBS, but it’s still on TU’s D-linemen to wall that off in case the Cougars get any ideas. Run-stuffers Stevenson, Rogers, Goodlow and Taylor will be particularly useful here until Player returns for the second half.
Again, it feels like more than one this week.
Player is out the first half. That puts a heavier burden on the Hurricane defense.
TU’s kickoff and punt coverage units were both burned for Arkansas State touchdowns last week, and now they must defend lethal Houston return man Marcus Jones.
The Cougars boast the fifth-best third down defense in FBS. TU, which ranks 84th in third down offense, must make some hay on first and second down or risk big trouble.
Don’t get as wrapped up in Houston’s fourth-best FBS pass defense, statistically speaking. The Cougars have allowed just 122 yards per game through the air, but that has come against Navy (attempted 8 passes), Grambling (attempted 12), Rice (19) and Texas Tech. Red Raiders QB Tyler Shough did throw 24 times in Houston’s season-opening win, completing 17 for 231 yards.
ONE PREPOSTEROUS PREDICTION
Despite several trends working against them, TU comes out firing. Davis Brin is a shock to the Cougar secondary’s system. He hits the Coogs early enough to open run lanes for Shamari Brooks and Deneric Prince. Player’s mates handle their business through the first half, then the big fella returns after the break to help slam the door.
AAC Team 38, Future Big 12 Team 24