A promising season quickly took a turn for the worse thanks to injuries and a porous defense. Houston was the favorite to win the AAC West for most of the year, but stumbled late. Army then destroyed them in the Armed Forces Bowl to end the year. With the season concluded, we take a look at how each position graded out for the year. Today, we start with the offense. Take a look at how each position did for the entire year.
D’Eriq King the superstar. King made Houston’s offense impossible to stop single-handedly, and the Cougars possessed one of the best offenses in the country. He passed for 2,982 yards with 36 touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for 674 yards and 14 more touchdowns. Houston endured the loss of their superstar late in the season when King tore his meniscus against Tulane. Clayton Tune stepped in, but didn’t have the same effect. King’s absence continued to be noticeable as the offense never looked the same after his injury, but the position still deserved a high grade.
If you compared this group to last year, you could argue they deserved better than this grade for their improvement. If not for King’s injury, Patrick Carr would have eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark. It never felt like this group was due to break a big run anytime soon, but Carr, Terence Williams, and Mulbah Car were reliable this year. With teams focusing on King, the backs received more chances to get the ball, but never emerged as a threat.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
If not for this group, we wouldn’t be talking about King as highly as we do. King had a great year, but this group also helped him out tremendously. Marquez Stevenson, Keith Corbin, and Courtney Lark gave the Cougars one of the best receiving groups in the country. Corbin and Lark tortured defenses deep, and Stevenson was utilized in both the run and pass games. King never shied away from finding any of these three deep downfield, and Houston called a ton of passes this year because of it. Bryson Smith was also utilized in multiple ways, and Kendal Briles found unique ways to use him in the offense. Tight end Romello Brooker gave King a big body downfield, and the senior had a career year. The biggest issue this group had? Drops plagued this group at times, and sometimes came at key moments in games. Luckily, all but Brooker return next year, giving them time to correct their flaws.
D’Eriq King covers up a lot of the issues Houston had up front. His ability to escape pressure allowed the Cougars offense to avoid disaster and extend drives. Overall, this wasn’t an awful group, but they also struggled at times. King was forced to escape the pocket because of a lack of protection. Inconsistencies troubled the line most of the season, and they were only magnified when King wasn’t playing. Army sacked Clayton Tune 10 times in the bowl game to end the year.
This offense vastly improved from last year because of two people. D’Eriq King’s athletic ability made life for the Cougars easy. Kendal Briles playcalling put King in a position to be successful, and the offense thrived. Issues with blocking up front and drops by the receivers proved problematic. Losing King derailed any momentum this group had, and the Cougars AAC West title hopes evaporated as a result. Overall, Houston’s offense was phenomenal, and they could do so again in 2019.