2019 Houston Football Season Preview
Will Dana Holgorsen be able to take Houston football to the promised land? Or at least the top of the American Athletic Conference? The 2019 roster is filled with talent and expectations so anything is possible, right?
2018 Record: 8-5 overall, 5-3 in AAC
Head Coach: Dana Holgorsen, 1st year
The passing game is going to be legit–something not difficult to do under Holgorsen. However, the passing game was fantastic under Applewhite, too–they were ninth in the nation in passing efficiency leading to the team averaging 44 points per contest.
At quarterback as long as D’Eriq King is healthy, they will be alright. Especially with the wideouts they have returning–10 of the 12 will be available for the 2019 offense. Junior Marquez Stevenson is back after leading the team with 75 catches for 1,019 yards and nine scores, and senior Keith Corbin is back after averaging over 17 yards per catch with ten touchdown on his 40 grabs.
The running game will feature King a lot, but Patrick Carr is the starter and ran for 868 yards and five touchdown’s a season ago.
The good news– there’s decent size and enough depth to at least come up with a few position battles, but the tackles are set, guard Braylon Jones will likely move to center and they will need to figure out the OG’s next to Jones on a weekly basis. Their No.1 job–keep King upright and on the field.
The defense will be a shred of its former-self, and it wasn’t as good as it should’ve been last season, allowing 37 points and 497 yards per game. Ed Oliver is off to the NFL along with five of the top seven tacklers not returning.
The defensive line has talent on paper but will it translate to the field? Aymiel Fleming is experienced and will play where Oliver did–but he hasn’t generated any production. JUCO transfer Olivier Charles-Pierre is tipping the scales at 350-pounds and will play nose tackle, but will he produce?
The linebacking core has to replace Austin Robinson and Roman Brown who accumulated 241 tackles last season. The Cougars do have an elite recruit, Nathan Ceaser, hitting campus–but will he play a lot as a true freshman? That’s up-in-the-air.
Safety is the strong suit for Houston with Colin Samuel transferring from UCLA, and Kelvin Clemmons transferring from Minnesota. However, the Cougars need the junior safety tandem of Gleson Sprewell and Deontay Anderson–the team’s two leading returning tacklers–to be the lifeblood of the unit.
The Cougars have the best skill players among the Group of Five programs, with King back from his knee injury, all the top receivers returning, and with a three-deep running back corps that can all carry the mail.
The defense isn’t going to be special, but it won’t have to be. Losing Ed Oliver is never going to be a positive, but the team is bringing in a haul of transfers who can play right away. If they are on par with where they were a season ago, this team will be legit in the AAC.
The schedule isn’t favorable non-conference-wise with an opening week tilt against Oklahoma and a matchup against a solid Washington State team. They also play UCF on the road and going to Tulane will be dangerous, and Memphis, SMU, Cincinnati and Navy at home won’t be easy, but this is a nine-win team that’s good enough to win the AAC title – or at least play for it.