2015 will be an interesting year for the University of Houston Football team because they are a team in transition. A new coaching staff led by Tom Herman (2014 Broyles Award Winner) takes the reigns of a program with a history of success at the Division 1 level.
A school that boasts NFL alumni like Case Keenum has a speedy quarterback on campus in junior Greg Ward Jr. ( a little bit like Michael Vick). In split time during the 2014 season, Ward led the team in passing with a 67.3 completion percentage and 12 passing touchdowns. Ward was also third on the team in rushing with 573 rushing yards in 118 attempts (4.9 ypc).
Not only does the team return their passing leader, but also their team rushing leaders in senior Kenneth Farrow who had 1037 yards in 186 attempts (5.6 ypc), and senior Ryan Jackson who had 610 total rushing yards on 112 carries (5.4 ypc). With that two-headed attack, Major Applewhite should have no problem running the spread with the downhill attack at the HB position, or the read with Ward.
We haven't even taken into account the receivers that will be on the field in the fall for Herman. The Coogs did lose their overwhelming number one pass catcher from 2014 in Deontay Greenberry (11.7 yards per catch, 6 TDs), but still have a talented group. Demarcus Ayers was very good as the team's number two. On the season, between two different quarterbacks and two completely different offensive styles, Ayers had 335 receiving yards (10.2 yards per catch).
Herman has a good offensive foundation to start with in the skill players that he has inherited. We've all seen what he can do with different types of quarterbacks during the season as well (won the 2014 College Football Playoff with the third string QB at Ohio State). While I wouldn't put the talent that the Cougars have on the same level as Ohio State, Houston does have a similar team, and one that Herman can build on.
The defensive side of the ball is going to be a bit of a question mark for the 2015 version of the Houston Cougars. The team loses their number one tackler from a year ago in Efrem Oliphant (138 total), but does return a talented OLB in the form of junior Steven Taylor. Taylor was second on the team in tackles a year ago (76) and first in TFL (9.0).
In front of him at the DT position, Houston welcomes back Destrehan, LA native B.J. Singleton. Singleton had 22 tackles with three coming for loss (all unassisted). In the secondary, UH returns their top 3 leaders in interceptions from a year ago in senior Adrian McDonald (5), sophomore Howard Wilson (3), and senior Trevon Stewart (3). The secondary is very athletic and should look very good in 2015.
In four of the Cougars five losses a year ago, the team fell by a touchdown or less. There is no reason to think that this Cougars team that is a year older, stronger, more mature, and has an offensive scheme built around their talented runners on offense, and a strong secondary, can't win 9 games on their schedule this year. They welcome teams like Vanderbilt (SEC), Texas State (SBC), and American Athletic Conference Newcomers Navy to the friendly confines of TDECU Stadium while going on the road against Louisville (ACC), UCF, and UCONN in conference play.
Tom Herman is in a pretty good position in his first year as head coach at the University of Houston in 2015. He's got an offense that he can build around and a talented defense that welcomes back a lot of talent from last year's Armed Forces Bowl win. With the spring coming to a close, and the fall on the horizon, there are a lot of reasons to feel excited about this Cougars team and to look forward to them taking the field against Tennessee Tech on Sept. 5.