It’s almost as if Houston enters a new era again. Major Applewhite may be in his second year as a head coach, but is already on his second offensive coordinator. Reactions have been mixed to adding Kendal Briles to the staff, but his reputation calling plays should provide excitement. He’s promised to take more shots downfield, but needs to find a go-to target for his quarterback. Improvement in the running game will also be helpful. Briles inherits a talented group that has the potential to be extremely explosive, and these five players will have an impact on the offense’s success.
Josh Jones, Tackle
Will Noble may get most of the attention on the offensive line, Jones also deserves recognition. As D’Eriq King’s blindside protector, Jones has been as steady as anyone. He started all 10 games that he played in the regular season with the two games he missed being because of injuries. With 23 games of experience heading into his junior season, this could be the year that he gets onto the All-Conference team.
D’Eriq King, Quarterback
The offense was completely different with King running the show, and now he starts the season as the unquestioned starter. Tennessee transfer Quinten Dormady will push him, and should give Briles a solid backup option if needed. King was a star for the Cougars last year, but his stats didn’t reflect that since he didn’t play quarterback until late in the season. With a full year ahead of him, his stats should prove how talented he is running the Cougars offense.
Will Noble, Center
Making the Rimington Trophy Watch List for the third year in a row is no joke, and Noble gives Houston a leader on the line. His final year at center could be his best, and he shouldn’t have to worry about working with multiple quarterbacks again this season. The senior has 32 starts and has made the aforementioned Watch List, but his new goal should be improving his postseason awards. He has yet to make the All-Conference First Team, but that could change if the Cougars offense is what it’s being hyped up to be.
Terence Williams, Running back
Mulah Car should still see time, but Williams is clearly the more talented of the two. At 6’2”, 222 pounds, he is the biggest back on the team. Houston will benefit from his aggressive running style as well as his ability to break big runs at any time. He also has the speed to pull away from defenders, and safeties usually don’t want much to do with him. With Noble and Jones returning, along with various other experienced players on the line, Williams could make the Cougars running game lethal.
Courtney Lark, Wide Receiver
With Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar moving on to professional football, the Cougars suddenly need a go-to receiver. Lark certainly had some chemistry with King late in the season, and will look to continue that this year. Keith Corbin and Utah transfer Raelon Singleton could also breakout for Houston as well. Potential isn’t lacking in this group, but someone needs to step up. If Houston is going to, in fact, take more downfield shots, they’re going to need a consistent threat. Lark is the most likely, and his success will open up the rest of the field for players like Corbin and Singleton.