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Run it (Bro)back- Houston Film Breakdown - Offense vs. SMU

Stevenson and Car balled, but there’s still work to do.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 24 SMU at Houston Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Houston came close, but couldn’t quite pull off the upset against SMU on Thursday night. Their offense looked good, producing 510 yards against the Mustangs and giving fans hope for the future. Dana Holgorsen should feel much better after this week, but there are still inconsistencies to address.

An inconsistent group

We start with the negative and turn positive. Houston’s offense is still the definition of hit or miss. Despite their four scoring drives (the defense scored the other touchdown), the Cougars didn’t move the ball well. When Houston was successful, they scored. Their scoring drives accounted for 33 plays and 237 yards. When they struggled, there wasn’t much progress (36 plays for just 75 yards). Two of the drives ended with fumbles by Bryson Smith and Clayton Tune. Both tried to make passes, but the ball slipped out of their hands. Even if the Cougars don’t score, they need to find ways to move the ball on those drives.

Stevenson’s a dude

Every Houston Cougars fan knew Marquez Stevenson had great speed, but we were waiting for him to have a breakout game. Thursday night was his night. His five catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns were team highs for the game, and we got to see his speed in action twice. The first touchdown was a simple hitch route, followed by some poor angles by SMU and that gave Stevenson the room he needed to break away.

The second touchdown came with Houston backed into their own territory. Stevenson runs a slant, and the rest is history. He looked even faster in this one, which shows how much work he’s done on his conditioning. When others get tired, he keeps playing at a high level.

Car had a game

While everyone was gushing over Stevenson (and rightfully so), Mulbah Car remind us why he’s going to give AAC defenses problems next year (assuming he redshirts). Car rushed for 136 yards Thursday night, and a number of runs were him doing most of the work. He didn’t wait long to break out a big run against SMU, and we were reminded his underrated speed.

Quick notes

  • Car made a number of tough runs for just a handful of yards. While he did have a good game, it was still a reminder of how inexperienced the offensive line remains.
  • The two turnovers by Tune and Smith really hurt. Even punts would have been better. With the Cougars only losing by three points, those plays made a big impact.
  • Christian Trahan showed us what he’s capable of doing when given opportunities to catch the football. His three catches produced 71 yards (a career high), and gives fans another downfield threat to get excited about in 2020.
  • Trahan and Jeremy Singleton have benefited the most from Keith Corbin sitting out. Trahan’s been targeted more, and Singleton’s game has evolved in Corbin’s absence.


Quarterback- B: Tune threw for 407 yards and Smith rushed for a touchdown, but both committed costly turnovers.

Running back- A-: Car was good (7.6 ypc), but he was really the only highlight outside of Donavan Mutin’s 12 yard run on a fake punt.

Wide Receiver- A: Stevenson exploded, Trahan produced a career high, and Singleton flashed his evolving potential.

Offensive Line- C: Car covered for their mistakes plenty, but they still didn’t do enough to dominate. Josh Jones is an NFL talent, but that’s about it still.


I’ll keep remind everyone that this is a group that’s learning how to work with new pieces at various positions. We’ve seen potential in guys like Trahan and Singleton, but guys like center Jack Freeman go unnoticed at times too. Inconsistent play remains the biggest issue for this group, but that changes with time. The experience that a few of these players are getting will yield huge dividends next year.