Houston Cougars receiver Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell catches a pass in a game against Kansas during the 2022 season. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)
The Houston Cougars football team is looking to make some ideological changes ahead of its game against Memphis, head coach Dana Holgorsen said.
Whatever changes the Houston Cougars make, however, have to be done within the structure of what the team is doing, Holgorsen said during one of his weekly radio shows on Wednesday.
“There is certainly going to be some changes with some philosophy on how we play offensively, how we play defensively,” said Holgorsen on Wednesday. “At this point in time, you don’t play to lose, that is for dang sure. If you got to get a little bit more aggressive and take more chances then that is certainly an option.”
Holgorsen’s response was a change in tone from what he said this past Monday. The Houston head coach said he probably did not give a good answer to a similar question he was asked during his weekly news conference on Monday.
“Yeah we are good,” said Holgorsen on Monday when asked if he planned on making any changes. “We’re 2-3 and lost a couple of really close games. We’ve been in five battles. We’ll get another one Friday night. Memphis is a good football team. 4-1. Play good defense. They are hard to beat at their place. Got to be ready for a four-quarter battle.”
Leading up to the team’s game against Tulane, Holgorsen said passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Shannon Dawson has the play-calling duty for Houston. It is something that began towards the end of UH’s 2021 season and allows the head coach to oversee more, especially in practice, Holgorsen said.
Dawson and Holgorsen work together leading up to the games in putting together each playbook and plan for how they will attack opposing defenses, Holgorsen said on Sept. 26. Dawson’s responsibility is to call them on game days, he added.
“I could go back to calling it right now if I wanted to,” Holgorsen said. “I just don’t feel like that is necessary right now.”
The Houston Cougars have scored 21 points in the first quarter of their first five games. Take out the Kansas game and the Cougars have only scored seven points in the first quarter of four games. UH’s opponents have scored 17 points in the first quarter of those five games.
The issue for Houston has been in the second quarter of games as the team has been outscored 63-20 in those periods this season. The Cougars have outscored opponents 54-22 in the fourth quarter.
Following the loss to Tulane, running back Brandon Campbell said he felt like the team has been in a recurring theme of coming out stronger in the second half of games. He could not pinpoint why that has been the case.
“I think maybe it is a part of the adjustments,” Campbell said. “Part of it is, just shoot, honestly I can’t tell you. I just feel like, second half when our backs are against the wall, we play better.”
Houston has been focusing on execution, consistency and starting and finishing games all week, Holgorsen said on the radio show. The Cougars have been unable to reach their full potential on offense, receiver Nathaniel ‘Tank’ Dell told reporters on Wednesday.
“Starting slow, or sometimes when we do start (fast) like I remember the Kansas game, we started fast but we didn’t end well, I just feel like we haven’t put all our pieces together, which we are still doing,” Dell said. “I feel like we are more comfortable right now, but we just got to work on that. Starting fast and finishing fast.”
Holgorsen expects his players to be ready to compete hard against Memphis, he said. The team is coming off multiple good practices leading up to the matchup with the Tigers, he added. For Dell, the goal is simple. He just wants to win, he said.
“My main thing right now is winning,” Dell said. “I like winning. I hate losing, so my main thing, I’m not even focused on myself right now, I’m focused on winning. Helping the team come together and win.”