In case you’re new to the Houston Cougars, the offense will be explosive. Multiple starters return, including a dynamic quarterback and an elite group of receivers. Only a few new faces will emerge this year as starters, but the returners will get them up to speed quickly. While the defense learns a new scheme and finds new starters, the offense will have to start fast. Who should you watch? We’ve got you covered.
If you’re not watching D’Eriq King this year, you’re not watching the right players. King’s the most dynamic quarterback in the country. A knee injury cut his season short last year, but he’s back and better than ever. Dana Holgorsen’s staff wants to limit the number of designed runs he takes this year, so King will be more of a passer.
He’s one of three quarterbacks from last year to account for 50 touchdowns, and the only one returning to do so. If he replicates or exceeds those numbers this year, a Heisman Trophy’s in his future. In his final season as a Houston Cougar, King will put on a show that many will enjoy.
An injury kept him out of a few games last year, but he’ll thrive in Dana Holgorsen’s system. At West Virginia, David Sills V and Gary Jennings combined for 1,903 yards and 28 touchdowns. Lark is most like both of those players in Houston’s offense. His frame is similar to both Mountaineers receivers at 6’2”, 200 pounds. His route running is arguably the best on the team, and a healthy year should produce big numbers. Marquez Stevenson and Keith Corbin drew the attention last year in the passing game, but this could be the year Lark breaks out.
The Texas transfer will compete for the starting running back job with Patrick Carr. That competition should elevate both players to play at a high level. With D’Eriq King running the ball less, the running backs receive more carries this year. Porter gets a chance to prove why he had a chance to start with the Longhorns. Even if he doesn’t win the starting job this year, he’ll be the top choice to be the man next year. If he can learn how to be a threat in the passing game, he’ll get more touches as well.
Justin Murphy/Gio Pancotti
Houston will have one of the tallest offensive lines in the country next year. With Braylon Jones moving to center, both guard positions were open. Holgorsen’s staff brough Murphy (6’6”) from UCLA and Pancotti (6’6”) from Texas Tech to fill the voids. Jones stands at 6’4”, and tackles Josh Jones and Jarrid Williams both are 6’7”. Murphy and Pancotti won the starting jobs already, and promote competition on a line that was decent last year.
Will Noble’s graduation left a big hole at center. After being a starter for multiple years, this position appeared the most difficult to fill. Jones slides in from guard to fill his shoes, and has already looked comfortable with the move. He’ll work with D’Eriq King to make sure protections are called correctly, and now becomes a leader on the line as well. Protecting one of the best quarterbacks in the country is his top priority, but Jones is an experienced leader ready for the new challenge.