Date: Thursday, October 4th
Kickoff Time: 7:00pm CT
Location: TDECU Stadium (Houston, TX)
Spread: Houston -18.5
Houston in the driver seat
Things are going well for the Houston Cougars so far this season, but the deficiencies are fairly obvious. Major Applewhite’s hire of Kendal Briles has already made the offense immensely better than last year (though that wasn’t going to be hard to do). D’Eriq King and Marquez Stevenson are one of the top quarterback-wide receiver combinations in the country, and the Cougars passing game is lethal this year. Houston is fifth in the nation in passing offense, and has brought back some memories from the Case Keenum days. King and his receivers are a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, and that shouldn’t stop anytime soon. It all comes down to the other side of the ball.
Any concerns about the offense have quickly been erased. The same can’t be said about the defense. This was a group that had plenty of talent to work with coming into the year, but it seems that Mark D’Onofrio can’t even get them to be average. Giving up 500+ yards and 30+ points per game isn’t going to cut it, and that falls on the defensive coordinator’s shoulders. He’s also failed to get his star player in a position to be effective. Everyone knows when Ed Oliver is on the field, and that brings double and triple teams his direction. D’Onofrio has failed to adapt to that and get his other players in position to help out, and has also failed to switch things up to give Oliver a chance to make a play. If this keeps up, a change needs to be made.
Tulsa struggling again
If we’ve learned anything from the previous two games, it’s that the above statement doesn’t mean anything. Tulsa was stopped on the goal line in 2016’s 38-31 loss at Houston, and jumped on the Cougars early to win 45-17 last year. Granted, the 2016 team was significantly better than last year’s, but Houston was the superior team. So, buckle up for another test, especially with the Cougars well documented struggles defensively.
Tulsa is in yet another quarterback competition after Luke Skipper couldn’t get the job done. Chad President was beat out by Skipper last year, and could be an option, but it might fall to a third competitor. Seth Boomer has been thrown into the mix apparently, which isn’t a bad thing. When things aren’t going well offensively, something needs to change. Corey Taylor and Shamari Brooks have been solid behind a good offensive line, but Justin Hobbs and Keenen Johnson haven’t been given opportunities to help. That’s a problem when they’re two of your best players on that side of the ball. Maybe a new quarterback change will help, but they’re going to need answers soon. Houston’s offense can score in a hurry, and Tulsa’s defense might have a hard time producing stops.
It’s quite simple for both teams. Houston’s defense needs to be better, and Ed Oliver needs to be put in better positions to be effective. Tulsa’s offense needs to find rhythm in order to keep this game close. Weirder things have happened, but it seems that this one is stacked in Houston’s favor.
Houston 42 Tulsa 20