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What Keith Corbin’s return means for Houston’s offense

It’s just one guy, but Corbin opens up opportunities for everyone around him.

D’Eriq King and Keith Corbin made headlines during the 2019 season by sitting out after the loss to Tulane. It started a big debate about if that should be allowed and if it was good for college football, but has since settled a little. King decided to transfer, but Corbin stayed at Houston for his final season, giving Houston something it needs desperately last year. The Cougars offense couldn’t find a consistent deep threat, which is a role the Corbin fills perfectly. With Marquez Stevenson and a handful of other receivers back, the Cougars senior deep threat brings a familiar style of play to the offense, and everyone should benefit from his return.

Clayton Tune to Keith Corbin

How do Corbin and Clayton Tune work together? While Tune was the quarterback for most of the season, he didn’t get a chance to hit Corbin consistently downfield. How these two gel together plays a big role in the success of the offense, but Tune’s new weapon makes life easy on any quarterback.

Yes there are concerns on the offensive line, but a player like Corbin gives someone like Tune extra room for error with his athleticism. He’s a naturally bouncy player who extends his catch radius by snatching balls outside of his frame, so his quarterback doesn’t have to be the most accurate. Tune’s shown that he can throw the ball with good accuracy, but Corbin gives him more wiggle room. Throwing the ball up on a prayer won’t please the coaching staff (nor does Tune do that often), but there’s less risk of a turnover with Corbin competing for the catch.

The above clips are just two examples of Corbin’s abilities. No one on the Houston roster provides what he does, and it’s that unique skillset that elevates the offense to a new level. As long as Tune has time to deliver the football, this offense will be explosive. Corbin’s return helps his quarterback, but it also opens the door for other players on the roster from the running backs to the receivers.

A big year for the Coogs

Even in Dana Holgorsen’s scheme, Corbin fits in well. It seems like he’ll be used like David Sills and Gary Jennings were used when Holgorsen was at West Virginia: a deep threat that stretches the defense vertically. He’s a good complement for a guy like Marquez Stevenson, who dominates in the short to intermediate game. Houston's star receiver last year nearly eclipsed 1,000 yards, but was wildly inconsistent in terms of production (mostly to no fault of his own). Stevenson has the speed to beat a man deep, but that’s not where he thrives. When teams drew their attention towards him, there was less room for him to run and he wasn’t the most comfortable competing for 50/50 balls deep. Corbin opens things up for Stevenson, and they’ll give others a chance to show what they can do too.

Tre’Von Bradley showed some promise with 20.4 yards per catch but only caught 16 passes. Jeremy Singleton also has potential, but only caught 26 passes. Corbin helps all of them by demanding extra attention deep, which opens of the short to intermediate passing game for the other receivers (even opens up the deep passing game on the other side of the field). Stevenson getting more room to operate means that his speed has a greater affect on the defense. Stopping both Corbin and Stevenson opens up the field even more for other guys to step up, and that puts a ton of stress on a defense.

There’s something to be said about Holgorsen’s effect on an offense. While last year was a struggle for everyone, it seems some stability is headed the Cougars’ way. Offensive line will be the focus this year, but don’t underestimate how much Corbin brings back to the offense. If all goes to plan, there’s no reason why Stevenson and he both break 1,000 yards receiving, and people talk about Houston as one of the best offenses in college football again.

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