The Cage

With this being head football coach Tom Herman’s debut for my current institution, the University of Houston, it was only right that my first post celebrate the very impressive showing. The Coogs cruised to a 52-24 win over Tennessee Tech in TDECU Stadium. Early signs of game-changing ability were revealed in junior QB Greg Ward Jr.(21-27, 275 yds, 1 TD & 14 car, 101 yds, 2 TD) , and junior WR Demarcus Ayers (10 rec, 121 yds, as well as a punt returned for a TD that got called back). Ward, who put an extra 20 pounds onto his frame this offseason, displayed that electrifying speed and much improved throwing mechanics and Ayers, his partner in crime, catalyzed the Cougar offense and special teams with pure speed and elusiveness.

There was, however, trouble in paradise. Most sports fans are aware major teams schedule mid-major games early in the season partially as a sort of confidence booster. This was one of those match-ups. Despite the fairly easy win, there were spots in the teams operations on the field that need to be cemented. There were 5 penalties in my time at the game, 3 being early false start calls. I’ll cut them a bit of slack since mistakes like that are bound to happen in a no huddle offense and it seemed to be corrected after the half. There were 5 botched snaps throughout the game so RS FR Colton Freeman and Ward Jr. will be putting a lot of work in during this weeks practices to be ready for Louisville next weekend.

One of the calling cards of the Cougar defense recently has been ball-hawking and aggressive. Highlighted by junior LB Steven Taylor (7 solo tackles, 1 sack) who was a missile on the field the entire game along with senior DB leader Trevon Stewart (3 solo tackles, 3 assisted). The defense gave TTU’s offense the blues for the majority of the game, though there were some lapses in coverage, one of them leading the the 71 yd TD by Jared Davis to a wide open Brock McCoin despite a very under-thrown ball by Davis. The Coog defenders did show signs of brilliance and resilience with a goal line stand in the first quarter, holding the Golden Eagles to a field goal. All in all a very solid performance from the 3rd Ward Defense and we hope to see more greatness for the rest of the season.

Tying it all together was offensive wizard at the helm, Tom Herman. I was very impressed by his presence on the field and his ability to almost seamlessly transition a national championship offense into TDECU stadium. A no huddle, run oriented offense takes advantage all of the Cougars strengths on offense, speed, athleticism, and aggression. Keeping Ward Jr. mobile utilizes his Manziel-like creativity and quickness, and avoids keeping him in the pocket for an extended period of time with short passes and screens for easy completions. The ground heavy system also takes advantage of very underused assets from the 2014 season in physical imposer senior RB Kenneth Farrow and his backfield mate senior Ryan Jackson. With these early improvements and only more time to get comfortable, Tom Herman and the Houston Cougars football team look like a potential force to be reckoned with in the American Athletic Conference in 2015.

-Melvin Jenkins