Another overtime loss leaves the Houston Cougars football team at a crossroads

The Houston Cougars football team lost to Tulane in the team’s American Athletic Conference opener on Friday, Sept. 30, at TDECU Stadium. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

Another overtime loss leaves the Houston Cougars football team at a crossroads

The Houston Cougars football team’s 27-24 loss against Tulane followed a similar script as it has for much of the season.

After a lackluster first half, and in the game against the Green Wave a flat first three quarters, the UH offense was able to catch lightning in a bottle to do just enough to rally from a deficit and find itself in a position to win the game.

“I feel like this is a recurring theme,” UH running back Brandon Campbell said. “Second half I feel like we come out a little bit stronger. I hate that it has to be that way, but I feel like (in the) second half, we usually play a lot better.”

When Campbell was asked if he could attribute why Houston has struggled in the first half of games and played better in the second, the running back said he honestly couldn’t give a reason why.

“I just feel like, second half when our backs are against the wall, we play better,” Campbell said. “And shoot, we just need to do a better job at starting fast so we don’t have to put ourselves in those situations.”

Defensive late-game issues

After taking a 21-14 lead late, it was the Houston Cougars’ defense’s turn. Following a Tulane three-and-out in the previous possession that set up UH’s go-ahead drive, which ended in a 14-yard Nathaniel Dell touchdown, the UH defense had a chance to seal the game if it could hold off the Green Wave one more time.

“In those situations, it is technique time,” Houston linebacker Donavan Mutin said. “You don’t really need any heroes at that moment. You don’t need somebody trying to do somebody else’s job. It is technique time.”

Tulane had 3:04 left in regulation. The Green Wave were led by third-string quarterback Kai Horton. And like it was the case against UTSA with 23 seconds left, Texas Tech with 37 seconds left, or Rice with 24 seconds left, Tulane drove down the field and managed to get into scoring position to tie the game.

The Roadrunners and Red Raiders managed to score to force overtime. The Owls did not. For the Green Wave, while it was not a two-minute drill offense, head coach Dana Holgorsen said, Tulane was able to march down the field and score the touchdown.

Tulane managed to drive 75 yards down the field on 11 plays to tie the game at 21. Tulane then capped off the game in overtime by holding UH to a field goal and scoring a 10-yard touchdown on a Horton to running back Tyjae Spears connection to secure the win. The loss drops Houston to 2-3 for the season and 0-1 against the American Athletic Conference.

“It falls on me,” Holgorsen said. “Coaches got to coach better. It starts with me. Players got to play better, that’s on me too. It’s the third overtime game in five weeks. I’ve never seen anything like it, and you know, it’s not like the other two (games) weren’t close too, so tough, very tough.”

At a crossroads

Houston finished with 110 more total yards of offense than Tulane. The Cougars ran 27 more plays than the Green Wave. The turnover battle was even as both teams coughed up the ball on fumbles. However, it was Tulane that was victorious and not Houston.

Despite accumulating yardage, Houston was held to only seven points for three quarters of the game. The Houston Cougars even had a 15-play, 45-yard drive that ended in zero points in the third because of a missed field goal.

Now Houston finds its season at another pivotal point. When asked about what the Houston locker room was like by a reporter, Mutin answered by asking him what he thought the locker room was like.

The reporter responded by saying it is probably one filled with guys that aren’t satisfied, disappointed and looking for answers. Mutin agreed.

“You hit it right on the head,” the linebacker said. “It is that but worse. It is that but worse. Not a good feeling right now. Not a good place to be right now. But it can get better or worse, and we have the ability to choose that.”

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *