#93 Houston Football 2015 Preview

Houston Cougars

Overall Rank: #93
#7 American

Houston Team Page#93 Houston Football 2015 PreviewBuy Houston Football Tickets

Houston opted to go a different direction and boost their program prestige with a big hire. It is hard to argue against what former coach Tony Levine did the last couple of years, but the Cougars want bigger and better things and they hope former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman can take them to the next level. Coach Herman is a big hire and he has put together a pretty nice staff too. The recruits will come, but for now developing the players they have and getting the new system in place is the priority.

2014 Record: 8-5, 5-3
2014 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl vs. Pittsburgh (W 35-34)
Coach: Tom Herman (0-0 at Houston, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Major Applewhite
Defensive Coordinator: Todd Orlando, Craig Naivar

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kenneth Farrow, RB, 1,037 yards
Passing: Greg Ward, Jr., QB, 2,010 yards
Receiving: Demarcus Ayers, WR, 335 yards
Tackles: Steven Taylor, LB, 76
Sacks: Steven Taylor, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: Adrian McDonald, S, 5

Other Key Returnees: RB Ryan Jackson, K Kyle Bullard, S Trevon Stewart, CB William Jackson

Key Losses: WR Deontay Greenberry, WR Markeith Ambles, LB Efrem Oliphant, DL Gavin Stansbury, LB Derrick Mathews, OL Rowdy Harper, DL Joey Mbu, OL Bryce Redman

The Houston defense was very impressive last season. Despite not getting to the quarterback too often, the unit intercepted 19 passes and most of those players are back. Safeties Adrian McDonald and Trevon Stewart are ball hawks in the secondary and both will continue to make big plays. Cornerbacks Lee Hightower, William Jackson and Howard Wilson have plenty of experience to make this one of the best defensive back units in the American Athletic Conference. Linebacker Steven Taylor is the team’s top returning tackler and will be the leader of the front seven. But it is on the line where Houston could have problems. With a few key departures, the front three is going to have to step up. Most of the pressure will be on end B.J. Singleton to get to the quarterback.

Houston’s offense will look quite a bit different under Coach Herman and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. And that is not a bad thing considering the passing game was ineffective at best. Quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. showed plenty of promise, throwing for 2,010 yards and a dozen touchdowns and the hope is the new coaching staff can balance out the offense. However, the offense is still going to work through running backs Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson. Farrow rushed for 1,037 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Jackson added 610 yards and five scores. The key for the offense will be developing toughness on the offensive line.

The Bottom Line:
Houston could go either way this season. The talent is there to compete for an AAC West title, but it may take some time for everything to come together under the new staff. The schedule is not particularly kind either. Non-conference games against Louisville and Vanderbilt won’t leave Houston with much margin for error when it comes to reaching bowl eligibility. Getting both Cincinnati and Navy at home could prove to be a problem. They may lose those games anyway and road trips to Tulsa, Tulane, UCF and Connecticut mean there are not many easy games on the schedule. But by the end of the campaign, this should be a team that can win enough to reach another bowl.

Projected Bowl: AutoNation Cure Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 183.8 (42nd in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 230.2 (64, 6)
Total Offense: 414.1 (55, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.8 (57, 4)
Rushing Defense: 143.3 (37, 4)
Pass Defense: 200.1 (27, 3)
Total Defense: 343.4 (20, 2)
Scoring Defense: 20.6 (15, 4)
Turnover Margin: 0.62 (22, 2)
Sacks: 2.08 (68, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.62 (98, 10)


See All College Sports Madness Top 104 Football Previews