(Photo by Darla Tamulitis-La Vita Loco Photography, Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved)
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2010 TexSport Publications
HOUSTON, TEXAS (November 14, 2010) The Houston Cougars (5-5, 4-3 C-USA) could not catch a break on Saturday night as they dropped their next-to-last conference game of the season 28-25 to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-3, 4-2 C-USA).
I guess “catch a break” may not be the right phrase. When you give up 413 yards and 28 points on defense, you should not expect anyone to give you a break.
Defense, or a lack of it on Houston’s part, was the determining factor in the game. Many have said it in the past and continue to say it to this day.
A team cannot win game after game by trying to simply outscore their opponents. Defense must be a key to their game plan.
Before Case Keenum went down in the UCLA game, Houston could usually muscle enough yards and points on offense to win.
That cannot be and is not the plan that needs to be followed when a team has experienced the setbacks the Cougars have in 2010.
If Cotton Turner had not also again down in the UCLA game, would Houston have won a few more games this season? Possibly!
No one can really know for certain. What I do know is that freshman quarterback David Piland has done a remarkable job so far this season, only being six months out of high school.
Defense is where the Cougars are lacking and when this season is over and done, Cougar fans will have their own opinions of what went wrong.
Head Coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff will come up with their own ideas of what went wrong and will set out to fix it for the 2011 season.
But no matter what any of the fans or naysayers postulate, a sub-par defense was the reason for Houston’s fall from grace.
Defense is needed in every football game, no matter what level. The one team that lives by that rule is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steel Curtain defense, along with a potent offense attack propelled Pittsburgh to six Super Bowl titles. They would not have been so successful with a lack of skill on either side of the line.
The Cougars have that skill (at their playing level) on the offensive side of the ball. However they are serious lacking on the defensive side.
Houston needs to shore up their defensive line and deep secondary in their recruiting for 2011. They have the offensive punch to score touchdowns but they must, and I repeat that word, MUST focus on their defense if they want to return to the success of the past years and possibly move to the next level of college football.
Next Saturday, the Cougars will play Mississippi State in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It will be their final Conference USA of the 2010 season.
A win would give them a 6-5 record going into their last regular season game against Texas Tech on Nov. 27.
The Cougars need six wins to become bowl eligible. With the loss to Tulsa, the Cougars may have virtually eliminated themselves from the bowl picture.
Yes, with wins over Mississippi State and Texas Tech, they would have a chance to be selected to a bowl game. The question is “Who wants to invite a team to a bowl game if they played like the Cougars did this season?
The honest truth is that no I or anyone else I know can answer that question. The bowls election committees will make that determination.
I would like to see the Cougars in their sixth straight bowl game. The fans would also like to see it. The players and coaches would love to experience it.
The sad thing is I just do not see it happening.
Either way, the Cougars will be back in 2011, with our without Case Keenum at quarterback.
That story (Case Keenum’s appeal for a 6th year of college football) will be the basis of a story in the near future.