Major Applewhite's first season was...disappointing. For a Cougar program that's been the best in the state for the past five years, 7-5 shouldn't cut it. Let's take a look at Houston 2017 season.
Conference Record: 5-3
Scoring Offense 28.3 (66th out of 130) Scoring Defense 23.8 (43rd out of 130)
Points Per Play .338 (60th out of 130) Points Allowed Per Play .296 (24th out of 130)
Turnover Margin -2
It took a while to find a QB
It's a little disconcerting that the best choice at quarterback was the third choice of the coaching staff but better late than never. D'Eriq King missed spring ball with an injury but this was Kyle Allen's job from the start, and when he struggled with ball security Applewhite turned to Kyle Postma. Postma performed admirably, but once King came in the Cougar offense took off. King didn't play significant minutes until the sixth game of the season but led the Cougars in passing yards, yards per attempt, and touchdown passes. He also limited his interceptions to just two, four less than Postma and two less than Allen. We wish we could have seen King in more than five games.
This season looks a lot different if Houston somehow beats a two-win Tulsa and a five-win Tulane. Until someone fully invests in the flux capacitor, we only have the 2017 results to ponder. The Tulsa loss was inexcusable. The Golden Hurricanes used the 45-17 blowout as a springboard to five straight losses to end the year.
The Cougars were driving for the go-ahead score when a 4th and one pass, at the Green Wave 32, fell incomplete. Good teams don't give up 45 to a bad Tulsa team, and they don't toy with Tulane and fiddle themselves into a loss.
Pieces in Place
We like D'Eriq King at quarterback; he provides the quarterback run game to augment Houston's conventional rushing attack. If he can stay healthy, he could be a Greg Ward Jr. starter kit.
What can you say about Outland winner Ed Oliver? He's the most dominant interior player in college football since Ndamukong Suh, but he's not a dick.
3/5 of the Houston offensive line returns including Will Noble, Josh Jones, and Braylon Jones. Noble should be one of the best centers in the country in 2018, and Josh Jones continues to develop into a steady edge protector.
Garrett Davis and Jeremy Winchester return in the secondary, giving the Cougars players to build around at corner and safety.
Replacing Linell Bonner and Steven Dunbar won't be easy. The dynamic duo leaves as two of the most decorated receivers in Cougar history; both finished in the top 10 in career receptions. They'll be missed, and depth will be an issue as four of the Cougar's top six receivers are seniors.
We're assuming Kyle Allen will use the graduate transfer rules and find a new home for 2018, and with Kyle Postma, a senior, the Cougars quarterback depth is non-existent. Bryson Smith is a redshirt freshman from Tyler, and Julon Williams just signed last week out of Converse Judson.
Matthew Adams, D'Juan Hines, and Khalil Williams are all departing after stellar careers, leaving the Cougars inexperienced at linebacker.
Terrell Williams graduates as well after a solid senior season at safety.
The Cougars could do for another running back that's game ready as well. You can never have enough these days, and the past two seasons Houston's been running on fumes in November.
Help on the Way
Houston took advantage of the early signing period and brought in 21 recruits for 2018 class.
|Julon Williams||ATH||Converse, TX||5'8"||185||✔️||⭑⭑⭑||5.6|
|Tahj Brown||DE||Donaldsonville, LA||6'4"||240||✔️||⭑⭑⭑||5.6|
|Bo Alexander||OL||Yuma, AZ||6'4"||290||✔️||⭑⭑⭑||5.5|
|Christian Trahan||TE||Sulphur, LA||6'3"||238||✔️||⭑⭑⭑||5.5|
|Zaire Taylor||DB||Helotes, TX||6'1"||187||✔️||⭑⭑⭑||5.5|
|Gleson Sprewell||DB||Mesa, AZ||6'2"||180||✔️||⭑⭑||5.4|
|Peyton Sawyer||WR||League City, TX||5'11"||170||✔️||⭑⭑||5.4|
|Henry Thomas||WR||Missouri City||6'2"||175||✔️||⭑⭑||5.4|
|Zamar Kirven||ATH||Mart, TX||6'3"||205||✔️||⭑⭑||5.4|
|Jack Freeman||OL||Midlothian, TX||6'4"||255||✔️||⭑⭑||5.4|
Julon Williams signs with Houston after a stellar career with powerhouse Converse Judson.
Dekalen Goodsen continues the Tyler to Houston pipeline.
If Logan Hall can put some meat on his 6-6 frame, he can be a dominant edge presence down the road.
The 2018 Slate
The Cougars travel across town to Mike Bloomgren's new look Rice Owls to open the 2018 season, then welcome Rich Rod and Arizona to TDECU. A trip to Lubbock won't be easy, but the Coogs end their out of conference slate with Texas Southern at home.