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Posts Tagged ‘Mike Nesbitt’

This Must Be Rock Bottom, Houston Hopes

This is the bottom, I think – and Houston hopes. The most damning factoid that could be used to define a team is that it forced five turnovers yet lost the turnover battle, as the Cougars did on Saturday night. U.C.L.A. had five turnovers; Houston had six. What the heck is going on here? Through three weeks, there has be no more disappointing team in college football. No team has suffered a more inexplicable loss, with all due to respect to Pittsburgh, Arkansas and Wyoming, among others. Of the 27 teams that notched double-digit wins last fall, how many seem assured of not reaching that mark in 2012? I’ll say three: Arkansas State, Arkansas… and Houston.

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    Conference USA Nosedives to Rock Bottom

    Rewind eight months. Houston capped one of the finest seasons in program history by decimating Penn State, 30-14, during bowl play. Southern Mississippi won its program-record 12th game against Nevada in the Hawaii Bowl – and in their last time out, the Golden Eagles had harassed Case Keenum and the Cougars out of the B.C.S. conversation. Tulsa, S.M.U. and Marshall acquitted themselves well in the postseason, with the Mustangs beating Pittsburgh, Marshall beating Florida International and the Golden Hurricane leading B.Y.U. for 59 minutes before a late collapse. Was last season the finest in the history of Conference USA? It’s not hard to make that case.

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      No. 30: Houston

      Houston had a simple modus operandi under Kevin Sumlin: push the ball, push it down field, push on first down, push it on third down. Never settle. Maintain this non-stop pressure in the passing game, going for broke even in short-yardage situations. Act, making the opposition react, and never vice versa. This is how Houston kept teams off balance; this is how the Cougars dominated offensively. Despite the coaching change and the loss of several key contributors, this mentality won’t change under Tony Levine, the former U.H. assistant who earned a nice and well-deserved promotion last December. The truth is that it’s not broken – why would Levine and Houston change a thing? The Cougars will continue going full-bore, keeping the same pedal-to-the-floor mentality that propelled this program to such great heights a season ago, as doing anything less would signal that something was wrong with the way U.H. approached the game over the last few seasons. If dominating Conference USA was wrong, here’s guessing that Levine and U.H. don’t want to be right.

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        The Year in Review: Houston (13-1, 8-0)

        In chronological order, every Houston three-and-out, not counting any from out of victory formation, on the 2011 season:

        U.C.L.A. (W, 38-34)
        1. 2nd quarter (10-7): sack, incomplete, complete.

        North Texas (W, 48-23)
        2. 4th quarter (48-23): complete, incomplete, incomplete.

        Louisiana Tech (W, 35-34)
        3. 1st quarter (0-0): run, incomplete, incomplete.
        4. 2nd quarter (7-17): run, complete, complete.

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          New-Look Roster Meets New-Look Staff

          Houston needed to score 40 points in the TicketCity Bowl. Not to win, mind you; Houston needed to score only 14 points to beat unfocused Penn State, which seemed to be going through the motions in Dallas, clearly wanting the season to end as soon as possible, not surprisingly. The Cougars needed to score 40 points to join a rather exclusive club: With another 40-point outburst — a total the Cougars reached nine times during the regular season — Houston would have joined Nebraska as the only F.B.S. program to average at least 50 points per game twice in its history. Houston had already been there once, when led by Heisman-winning quarterback Andre Ware in 1989.

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            The Countdown

            A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.