5 observations from the Houston loss to Kansas

The Houston Cougars defense struggled to contain Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels all game long on Sept. 17 inside of TDECU Stadium. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

5 observations from the Houston loss to Kansas

The Houston Cougars lost to Kansas behind Jayhawks quarterback Jalon Daniels and the high-powered offense. The Houston loss to Kansas ended in a 48-30 rout:

Houston Cougars get crushed by Kansas

The Cougars got a rude awakening by an up-and-coming Kansas team. For the third consecutive week, Houston was left searching for answers, albeit this time after getting a 14-0 lead first.

From 28 unanswered points by the Jayhawks to six straight touchdown drives by the Jayhawks and to a sideline skirmish among its own team, the Cougars (1-2) look like a team in desperate need of an identity.

Houston’s defense could not stop Kansas for much of the night. UH’s offense had costly penalties for the third straight week, and on Saturday, they also suffered from the turnover bug. The Cougars committed two turnovers in the loss. With UH set to join the Big 12 on July 1, 2023, head coach Dana Holgorsen is now 0-4 against the conference’s opponents with Houston.

Houston Cougars defense struggles against Kansas

Houston’s defense came out and forced the Jayhawks into two three-and-outs to start the game, which led to 14 points by the Cougars’ offense. Then the defense allowed a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that was the beginning of the end of UH’s strong start.

After an interception by the Kansas defense, the Jayhawks were set up at Houston’s eight-yard line. Kansas scored a touchdown on one play, and then it scored another touchdown, and another one, and another and another one. Kansas had six straight drives end in a touchdown.

The streak mercifully came to an end in the fourth quarter when Houston stopped Kansas on a third-and-goal from the three-yard line and the Jayhawks opted to kick the field goal. Kansas rushed for 280 yards total. Daniels finished 14-of-23 for 158 passing yards and three touchdowns. Daniels torched Houston on the ground. He rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston scores its first 1st quarter touchdown

The Cougars’ first-quarter offensive woes were non-existent against Kansas. Then they popped up for the rest of the game. UH drove down the field on its first drive of the game and capped off the 82-yard drive with a 34-yard touchdown on a screen to running back Ta’Zhawn Henry.

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune was sharp on the first drive, completing all three of his passes to three different receivers, including Nathaniel Dell and Matthew Golden. The touchdown was the first one in the first quarter of a game by UH during the 2022 season.

UH then scored another touchdown in its second drive off a 40-yard rush from running back Brandon Campbell. Tune finished 22-of-31 passing for 272 yards, a touchdown pass and an interception. He also rushed for a touchdown, 63 yards and a fumble lost.

Running back Ta’Zhawn Henry puts strong performance

In the midst of the tough loss to Kansas, Henry put together a strong game against the Jayhawks. The Lamar High School product rushed 15 times for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Henry also had a strong game through the air as he caught four passes for 107 yards and another touchdown in the Houston loss to Kansas.

Lapses hurt Houston

After jumping out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Houston’s strong start quickly evaporated. Kansas responded to the early hole with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 12-yard rushing touchdown from Daniels.

Following the scoring drive, Tune was intercepted on a 3rd-and-9 pass intended for receiver Kesean Carter. On top of the pick, Houston was then flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct that set Kansas up at the Cougars’ eight-yard line. It took only one play for the Jayhawks to capitalize and turn the turnover into seven points on a rush by running back Daniel Hishaw.

A 69-minute weather delay was not enough to help Houston stop the Jayhawks from scoring its third touchdown of the first half. Daniels connected with receiver Luke Grimm for a five-yard score, which was a part of 21 unanswered points by the Jayhawks.

The bleeding only continued for Houston as it gave up another touchdown at the end of the second quarter. This time Kansas scored a 60-yard touchdown, after being pinned at its own three-yard line. Daniels hit receiver Torry Locklin for the score. Houston will finish its nonconference schedule on Sept. 24 against Rice.

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