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Houston Cougars Postseason Position Reviews: Quarterback

The first part in the series takes a look at a polarizing position.

NCAA Football: Houston at Central Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback became a polarizing topic of conversation for the Houston Cougars in 2019, but there weren’t many answers provided. A redshirt, a coach’s son, and a wildcat all headlined the season, but none of the options provided much consistent play. This year was about building for the future, even if it meant saving players for later.

Season Review

D’Eriq King’s decision to sit out after a 1-3 start to preserve his redshirt status produced strong reactions from the college football world. Quitting was brought up often, but King provided college football with a new way to look at the redshirt rule. Originally pegged to benefit underclassmen, King showed that upperclassmen can also utilize the rule. Whether you liked King’s decision to sit out this year for 2020 or you didn’t, you won’t complain when he’s balling next year. Unfortunately, his absence left a huge hole at a key position, and it was only the beginning of the issues.

Once King’s season was over, a new starter needed to emerge. Clayton Tune took that role for most of the season, but Dana Holgorsen switched things up as well. Logan Holgorsen and Bryson Smith took reps as well with various levels of success.

We didn’t get to see what Tune could do with his potential, and most of the frustrations stemmed from inconsistent offensive line play. He was either passing for under 200 yards in a game or nearly 400. Even the latter games were filled with inconsistencies. Against Navy, he threw for 393 yards with four touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions. One thing we didn’t realize is Tune can run the ball too. While King’s known for his electric runs, Tune pulled off some of his own. Now that the season’s over, he can fully recover from his hamstring injury and prepare for a quarterback competition next year.

Holgorsen gave us a glimpse of what he can do, but ultimately his dad limited him to the allowed four games to redshirt. He’ll be in the mix next year as well. Smith was used as the wildcat quarterback, but showed us he can sling the rock too. His 50-yard touchdown pass against Cincinnati was a thing of beauty, but we didn’t get many opportunities to see his arm.

Season grade: C+

Questions Going Forward

  • Will King improve as a passer with another of learning Dana Holgorsen’s system?
  • Can Tune become more consistent with better blocking?
  • Is Holgorsen actually in the mix next year?
  • Can Dana develop one of these guys to be a threat as a passer consistently?


Consistency remains the biggest question for this group. Even when King was playing, his deep passes missed the mark frequently. We know Tune and King can be threats in the passing game, but the inconsistent ball placement needs to stop. Both showed they can move the ball with their legs, but the offense won’t run well if they can’t pass.