As the dust settles on the Houston Cougars comeback against the Memphis Tigers, Cougar quarterback Kyle Postma has settled back into the backup role that he has served in over the past two months.
Postma was thrust into starting duty Saturday evening after starter Greg Ward went down with an ankle injury after being ineffective for most of the first half. The Cougars rallied to an improbable victory despite being down by 20 points with less than a quarter to play while Postma played the leading role in the comeback.
Postma finished his night with 236 yards through the air and 49 more on the ground and a pair of game-changing touchdowns. How was he able to outplay Ward? Or maybe I should ask how another Tom Herman backup QB outplayed his starter/Heisman candidate?
Was it Memphis?
The Memphis defense was in attack mode through the first half sacking Ward five times but failed to get Postma a single time.
Why was that?
One change was Cougar tackle Carter Wall (which is a top 10 last name for a lineman of any type) returned from a first-half suspension to solidify the offensive line. That wasn’t the only tweak though.
Schematically, the Tigers played more single-man-high coverage against Ward, which left an extra man to rush the passer or spy Ward. Once Postma came in, Memphis still had a few exotic blitzes but they switched their base coverage to more cover-2 man which left the quarterback scramble unaccounted for. Someone on the Cougars either noticed or Postma’s instincts took over as he narrowly escaped on several occasions but every time he did, he made the Tigers pay.
Oh yeah, Demarcus Ayers made some incredible catches too.
Was it the Cougar defense?
The offense did their part to keep the Cougars in the black in turnover margin but the defense wasn’t able to take it away in the first half. That changed after halftime as the Third Ward Defense produced two takeaways on the Tiger side of the field to give Houston great field position.
Even though the turnovers only resulted in seven points, the Cougars D left their
finger paw prints on the game as they took time off the clock and possessions away from Memphis.
Was it Postma?
Yes and no.
The Cougar coaches made adjustments at halftime for the team and for Postma that played to his strengths: Quick reads and rollouts then improvise. He made the plays he needed to make, but some of the biggest ones were unscripted. It didn’t hurt that the running game also got on track which was more about the O-Line that it was about the passing game.
It’s a cop-out but it's a team game and it truly was a combination of all three. Postma was able to pick the right times to run, the defense stepped up and the offensive line was solidified after Wall returned from his first half suspension. The trick is that quarterbacks get more blame and credit than they should so the game ball goes to OC Major Applewhite (once a quarterback, always a quarterback!). He, along with Herman, had two quarterbacks ready to go; enough so to beat a top 25 team for the first time all year.
After the game, Herman was quick to point out that there is no quarterback controversy brewing on Cullen Boulevard as he will dance with the girl who brought him, his latest protégé, Greg Ward.
So while Postma saved the Cougars season, one game does not a QB make.
After all, it would be ludicrous to move a receiver to QB in the middle of the season, right?