Season Report Card: Houston
Losing four of their final five games, the Cougars are limping into the offseason—but their record isn’t reflective of just how competitive they were against quality opponents.
Coach Tony Levine’s squad took out an impressive Rice team in the Bayou Bucket Classic and obliterated Rutgers, all while losing to BYU, Central Florida, Louisville and Cincinnati by a combined 20 points (ouch).
That said, here’s a season report card for Houston’s 2013 campaign.
Given the fact that the Houston offense was led by a freshman quarterback, I’d say it had an exceptional year. John O’Korn threw for 3,117 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, including a five-touchdown performance at Rutgers. The Cougars had trouble converting when it was put into third down situations and never found a rhythm running the ball, but averaged 33.2 points per game and put up 46 against a stout BYU defense.
This might have been the epitome of a bend-don’t-break defense. Houston was 79th in total defense (415.8 yards allowed per game) and 103rd overall in first downs allowed, but got much-needed stops on third down and was extremely efficient in the red zone (No. 18 in the country), giving up just nine passing touchdowns in 49 total attempts. Opponents scored over 20 points just six times in 13 games.
Special Teams: B+
It’s a two-sided story with Houston’s special teams unit. It was one of the best in the country in finding gaps through kick return coverage teams, averaging 25.3 yards per return (No. 5 overall), but failed to get more than 3.7 yards per punt return in 20 tries. The Cougars’ coverage units were up to par and Richie Leonie was top 3 in net punt yards.
Levine had his troops ready for the transition from Conference USA to the AAC, rebounding from a five-win season in 2012 to finish fourth place in the conference and make an appearance in the Compass Bowl. In my opinion, he did an excellent job managing his team’s talent and was very good in preparation for the better teams on Houston’s schedule.
Nothing wrong with straight B’s and there’s plenty of reason to believe Houston can make honor roll in 2014 as a possible candidate to win the AAC.
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