NCAAF - AAC
Houston Team News & Picks
Houston is hoping to make a second straight bowl game appearance in 2021, with more consistency in play on both sides of the ball needed to make that happen. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has a number of players back from last year’s squad, as well as a few transfers to plug in the holes in the lineup.
Quarterback Clayton Tune will be a big key for the offense, though he needs to cut down on mistakes and be more accurate with his throws. Newcomers are going to help upgrade both the running back and receiver position, giving Tune plenty of weapons at his disposal this season.
The defense needs to make the biggest improvement after allowing 32 points and nearly 400 yards of offense a game last season. Much of the defense is back, and just a little improvement could keep Houston in many more games this season.
Houston Cougars Standings
The Houston Cougars have been making a name for themselves in college football, with a solid record of wins and losses in recent years. Their current stats and standings place them among the top teams in the nation, with a talented roster of players and a dedicated coaching staff.
The Cougars are known for their high-powered offenses and tough defenses, making them a force to be reckoned with on the field.
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Houston Courgars Key Players
Tune had a solid season in 2020, passing for 2,048 yards and 15 touchdowns, but he could stand to improve on his 59.6 percent accuracy and 10 interceptions. In his second full season as the starter, Tune should be a team leader and be able to lead the offense to some good performances.
Sophomore Nathaniel Dell had a team-high 29 catches for 428 yards and three touchdowns this season, and he could improve on that with the influx of new talent at the receiver position. Mulbah Car is the leading returning rusher at the running back position, but the backfield will also benefit from some new names.
Senior David Anenih had 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss a season ago and will be a key to the Cougars’ pass rush this season. Donavan Mutin could make an impact from the linebacker position after missing much of the 2020 season with injuries, while senior cornerback Damarion Williams will be the leader of the secondary.
Holgorsen has a number of additions to the offense, including transfer receivers KeSean Carter (Texas Tech), Jaylen Erwin (UCLA), and Seth Green (Minnesota), who should upgrade the position. Running back will also be a deep position with the additions of Ta’Zawn Henry (Texas Tech) and freshman Alton McCaskell. Henry had to sit out last season after transferring from the Red Raiders.
Defensive end Payton Turner and linebacker Grant Stuard are gone from the defense. Turner was the team’s top pass rusher, while Stuard was the Cougars’ top tackler, though both skipped the bowl game loss, so there is some experience playing without them.
The Cougars said goodbye to receivers Marquez Stevenson (graduation), Keith Corbin (Jackson State), and Tre’Von Bradley (UTSA), but their losses will be lessened with the transfers coming in. Last year’s leading rusher, Kyle Porter, is also gone, but again, new faces should fill the hole left by his departure. The offensive line lost perhaps its best player in tackle Braylon Jones.
Houston certainly has the talent to contend in the AAC, and the Cougars avoid Cincinnati and UCF, two of the top teams in the league, this season. Getting out to a good start will help build some confidence, and another bowl game is a very good possibility if this group can stay healthy.
Houston Team Offense
The Cougars ranked seventh in the AAC in 2020 with 30 points per game, and they’ll need to match that again in 2021. Houston went 3-0 when it scored 37 points or more and 0-5 when it scored under 37.
Having Tune under center will be a positive for the Cougars, who are integrating a few new faces at the other skill positions. Dell is a reliable target that Tune knows, but the incoming trio of transfers will upgrade the receiver position.
When the Cougars run the ball, they’ll do it behind an offensive line with four starters returning. Henry and McCaskell will join Car and speedy Chandler Smith to create a deep backfield.
Houston Team Defense
The Cougars were second in the AAC in sacks in 2020, though losing Turner will hurt. Anenih will be the player counted on to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, though Derek Parish (25 tackles, 3.5 sacks) can also bring some heat from the end position.
There’s a lot of experience in the secondary, thanks to the extra season of eligibility for players because of the pandemic. Williams and Marcus Jones are the top backs, though safety Thabo Mwaniki can also make some plays.
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Houston Cougars FAQs
Eleven in four different conferences, with the most recent being the AAC title in 2015.
Houston joined the AAC in 2013 when it was formed from the remnants of the old Big East.
Quarterback Andre Ware won the prestigious award for the nation’s top player in 1989.
Bill Yeoman won 160 games when he coached the Cougars from 1962 to 1986.