Major Applewhite's first spring as Houston Cougar ended on Saturday with a scrimmage at TDECU Stadium. Applewhite had two objectives, 1) Don't get anyone hurt and 2) Seriously, Don't get anyone hurt. Hence why All-Amercian freshman Ed Oliver played just a handful of snaps. Houston is already missing key depth chart contributors Will Noble, D'Eriq King, Kyle Postman, Linell Bonner, and Marquez Stevenson due to injury.
For those that played, there were highs and lows. Kyle Allen threw an interception on his first pass, but settled down, well, after throwing a second pick. Allen went 12 for 18 for 62 yards, which didn't exactly set the world on fire, but he's the default starter so it's not like he was under the gun.
The bigger and better news was that Colorado transfer Patrick Carr looked the part at running back with 122 yards on 15 carries and a score. Houston has emphasized a more conventional running back based rush attack with the graduation of Greg Ward Jr. Allen isn't the pocket breaking threat that Ward Jr. was, so Carr, Duke Catalon and Dillon Birden will need to step up in 2017. The Cougars took a rather large step backward in rushing the football in 2016, averaging 3.41 yards per carry, a full yard plus less than their 2015 numbers.
Houston is fast becoming DBU, the Cougars lost Howard Wilson and Brandon Wilson after last season, but the cupboard isn't bare with safeties Khalil Williams and Garrett Davis joining Jeremy Winchester in the backfield. Winchester played nickel in 2016 and has nine career starts. He picked off Kyle Allen on Saturday. Javian Smith and Isaiah Johnson also had interceptions in the spring game. Johnson appears to have made a smooth transition from receiver to corner. His 6'4 frame and ball skills gives the Cougars an interesting option at corner.
Now the Cougars finish out the school year and head into summer workouts. Priority one is to get healthy. The Cougars still have the talent to compete in the AAC.