Date: Thursday, November 15th
Time: 7:00pm CT
Location: TDECU Stadium (Houston, TX)
Line: Houston -10
How did we get here? Bad defense. How do we get out of here? Competent defense. Houston’s been getting worked all year by opposing offenses, and it simply comes down to their play on defense. No one can fault the offense at all for scoring, because that’s what they’re supposed to do.
Ed Oliver’s status has certainly hurt the Cougars defense, but he can’t mask all of the deficiencies. Not having Jerard Carter and Isaiah Chambers certainly is noticeable, but there’s nothing this team can do about that. Players need to step up, and we’ve yet to see that so far. Deontay Anderson, Gleson Sprewell, and Isaiah Johnson are Top 5 in tackles for Houston this year, and that’s a problem. Throw in Alexander Myers at seventh, and you have four defensive backs in the Top 7 in tackles. It’s good to see that these guys can make plays, but it’s happening too frequently. First contact is happening when they get to the ball carrier, and that needs to be fixed.
Would slowing things down on offense help? Maybe, but it remains to be seen if this offense can thrive in that kind of setting. Kendal Briles’ offense relies on deep shots and a fast pace, and part of what makes them great is they never let their foot off the gas. D’Eriq King continues to torch opposing defenses, and it would be ridiculous to limit the number of times he gets to make an impact. Keep going all out, and let the defense either sink or swim.
Yes, this Tulane team is tied with the Cougars in the AAC West. At one point considered a dark horse team to win the West, it wasn’t looking pretty for a while. Suddenly, the Green Wave find themselves in position to win the division. So maybe they were a dark horse, but even more than anyone realized.
It seems like Tulane has relied on two players at each skill position offensively to get the job done. Jonathan Banks and Justin McMillan have gone back and forth running the offense at quarterback. Darius Bradwell and Corey Dauphine have looked great at times this year running the ball, but it’s the receivers that have really taken off this year. It’s no surprise that Darnell Mooney and Terren Encalade have seen so much success this year. We at Underdog Dynasty thought they’d be two players to watch after being efficient receivers in 2017. Houston should be aware of these two, as Encalade torched the Cougars last year and Houston possesses the worst pass defense in the country.
The fact that this game has so much importance means that both teams will be taking this one seriously. Houston’s season was going so well, but now their backs are against the wall. It all comes down to what the Cougars defense can do. Tulane’s offense is scary, and it’s a big test for a group that can’t seem to put it together. The question will be if the Green Wave can outscore Houston.
Houston 42 Tulane 28