Houston’s loss to BYU was frustrating for sure, but there are many things they can fix across the board. The coaching staff will need to fix some things of their own, but this team’s on the rise despite the loss. It’s a young season, but we are learning a ton each week about the Houston Cougars, and most of them are positive for both sides of the ball.
D’Anthony Jones knows how to time the snaps
It felt like every time BYU was in a passing down, my eyes automatically went to 44 on the field. Not only does he act like a receiver before the snap by checking with the official to make sure he’s not lined up offsides, but his explosiveness rivals a wide out release off the line. Jones figured out BYU’s snap count early in the game, and he force Zach Wilson to escape the pocket numerous times on Friday. Even though he didn’t record a stat, it was evident that he was making an impact. Houston’s defensive line already took massive strides forward, and Jones is one of the guys leading the charge.
The confidence/energy isn’t lacking, discipline is
One thing that’s clearly evident is the energy level is on a different level than it was last year. Guys are flying around the field and excited on the sideline. Even guys like backup quarterback Logan Holgorsen are animated and vocal to support their teammates. The offense is hyping up the defense and vice versa. You name it, this team’s playing for each other and not afraid to make a play. There are some fallbacks to that, however.
Stupid mistakes continued into Week 2 after the last game, and it’s something that Dana Holgorsen must address. Patrick Paul is a guy that can be one of the best on the team, and a future All-Conference tackle, but it all depends on his cool head. Paul made a number of pancakes Friday night (as did others on the line), but he took it too far on at least one play when he drew a flag. He also added a few holding penalties that killed drives. There was a headbutt by Kyle Porter that somehow didn’t get him ejected, but the cornerback that hit him was called for targeting was disqualified. There was also a potential spitting incident with Keith Corbin. And an onside kick that changed the game that the Cougars weren’t ready for at a crucial point in the game. This team can be great, we’ve seen that already, but they can’t keep getting in their own way.
Houston’s defense can make stops
If you’ve watched the Houston defense over the last couple years, any short distance play the Cougars faced would result in a first down for the other team. While this group still has a little ways to go to becoming a good defense, we saw that they’re capable of making big stops in key situations. In the first half, BYU had a fourth down on the goal line, and handed it off to Masen Wake who was stuffed by Grant Stuard. Houston got the ball back, but also took a penalty after the play (see point #2 about that). Still, Stuard stopping a guy 25 pounds heavier than him was impressive, and it was the start of the excitement. Houston also saw Donavan Mutin stuff another BYU run on the first drive of the second half. This group has a different mentality in 2020, and it’s finally fun to watch this group play even with things that must be addressed.