Dana Holgorsen says 2022 Houston Cougars not that different from 2021 team

Houston Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen walks out with his team prior to the game against the Tulane Green Wave on Sept. 30 at TDECU Stadium. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

Dana Holgorsen says 2022 Houston Cougars not that different from 2021 team

Houston Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen said his team is a few breaks away from being at 4-1 just like a year ago.

The Cougars’ coach on Monday said his team is not a lot different from last year’s football team other than the ball not bouncing their way, injuries and close losses as opposed to wins.

“I don’t think we are a whole lot different,” Holgorsen said. “Two plays and we are 4-1 just like last year. It’s just true. But it didn’t happen and we are 2-3 and everybody’s mad, including me.”

Houston is coming off a disappointing loss against Tulane, in which the Green Wave played much of the outing with third-string quarterback Kai Horton. As it has been for four out of Houston’s five games, the contest came down to the final possession.

What Holgorsen said is true, a stop against Texas Tech on fourth-and-20 and Houston wins that game. If UH could have marched down the field with 32 seconds and three timeouts at the end of the fourth quarter against Tulane, they could have won that game.

But the same argument can be said for the UTSA game. If the Roadrunners could have marched down the field and scored a touchdown in the first overtime after holding the Cougars to a field goal they could have beat Houston.

If Rice quarterback TJ McMahon connected with receiver Luke McCaffrey on the final play of regulation to score a touchdown, the Owls could have won that game.

As the cliché goes—should have, would have, could have—applies a lot to the 2022 Houston Cougars. The reality is yes, UH could be 4-1, but with the same argument, they could also be 0-5 if a few plays resulted differently against UTSA and Rice.

“Ball is not really bouncing our way,” Holgorsen said. “We are not catching breaks like we did last year, but it is our job to create breaks. And it is our job to expect good things to happen. Every year is different. Every team is different, but at the end of the day, we got to go out there and do a better job.”

Every year is different. For Houston, 2022 is one with a lot of adversity, Holgorsen said. The Cougars’ first five opponents are a combined 18-7 through Week 5 in college football. A season ago, Houston was 4-1 through five games. The Cougars’ first five opponents were a combined 10-15 through Week 5 in college football, including Grambling, which is an FCS school.

“We just got to keep plugging along,” Holgorsen said. “We got to keep working. We’ve been in these games. A play here, a play there, we’re 4-1 and everybody is all happy. Everybody’s all giddy.”

As Houston turns its attention to Memphis, who is 4-1, Holgorsen said his team needs to continue pushing through the adversity to get out of its current hole.

“We are in a tough spot right now but the only way you get out of it is you fight,” Holgorsen said. “There is adversity all around us, and it’s our job to make adversity go away. The only way it goes away, it ain’t by talking about it, it’s by going out and practicing hard.”

Around the American

East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers was named the American Athletic Conference offensive player of the week. Ahlers went 31-of-41 for 465 yards and six touchdowns in the ECU (3-2, 1-1 AAC) win over South Florida. The Pirates won 48-28.

Tulane (4-1, 1-0 AAC ) senior linebacker Nick Anderson was named the conference’s defensive player of the week. He had a career-high 14 tackles in the Green Wave’s 27-24 win over Houston. Anderson forced UH quarterback Clayton Tune to fumble in the third quarter, which was scooped up by the Green Wave for a touchdown.

The fumble was an example of a play not bouncing Houston’s way, Holgorsen said on Monday, as the ball was jarred loose just a second before Tune could be ruled down.

Across the rest of the conference, Navy (1-3, 1-1 AAC) fell to Air Force 13-10. Memphis (4-1, 2-0 AAC) defeated Temple (2-3, 0-1 AAC), 24-3. Cincinnati (4-1, 1-0 AAC) was victorious in its conference opener, beating Tulsa (2-3, 0-1 AAC), 31-21. SMU (2-2) and UCF (3-1) will play each other on Wednesday after the game was postponed due to Hurricane Ian.

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