Coogs Roll Easily, Still Have Title Shot

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Photo courtesy UH
According to Houston Cougars head coach Kevin Sumlin, his team has yet to play a perfect game. Saturday, the Cougars defeated the Memphis Tigers 55-14 in what was easily their most dominating performance of the season.

So, coach, was this game perfect?

"Now looking at it, it probably is as good an effort as we've had all year," Sumlin said.

Yes, there were some mistakes. Sumlin admitted that he took too long getting the first play into the game, and he had to take a timeout because the ball had gotten too wet. The Cougars got hit with nine penalties for 68 yards, and Sumlin doesn't like penalties. The offense actually failed to score three times. Matt Hogan missed an extra point.

But damn, if this game played on a wet, soggy, chilly Saturday wasn't perfection, then it was close. And even if it wasn't perfection, it was a fun game to watch, starting from the opening kickoff which Tyron Carrier returned 40 yards to the Cougar 49-yard line.

The only thing that stopped the Cougars on that opening drive was Sumlin and the timeout, because eight plays and 2:16 later the Cougars were in the end zone after Keenum hit L.J. Castile with a 7-yard TD pass.

The score was 21-0 Houston with 6:50 still left in the first, and Keenum was already 9-for-13 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Memphis would turn to a running game featuring Curtis Steele that was able to churn up some yards and get some points. But it didn't matter, and by the end of the first half, the score was 42-14.

"We knew we had to come out from the start and really focus up and just do what we do from the start to the finish," Keenum said. "It was nice to be able to execute like that on all sides of the ball. Things came together there. Guys stepped up and made plays. We kept it rolling. We had the momentum, and kind of kept the momentum throughout the game, which was nice."

The offense operated at full speed despite missing the injured Bryce Beall and James Cleveland. Sumlin took mercy on Memphis midway through the third and sent in the back-ups, including Keenum's backup, Cotton Turner, who made his play for some prime playing time by completing 13 of 16 passes for 173 yards and a TD.

"Cotton played really well," Keenum said. "I was proud of him. Probably the best post I've ever seen [Turner hit E.J. Smith on a post pattern for 47 yards]. Better than both of my posts today that I threw. E.J. made a heck of a catch on that one. And Cotton did a great job with a good read and a good throw on that play."

But for Steele, the Cougars defense shut down the Memphis offense, forcing Memphis into three-and-outs on multiple occasions throughout the game. It was a pretty dominating performance by a defense that has, at times, been disappointing this season.

"Our coaches, they put together a great game plan," cornerback Brandon Brinkley said. "We wanted to stress staying focused. We've been up a few games and we lost focus and teams were able to come back. We wanted to stay focus and put it away this game."

And stay focused and put away the game the Cougars did.

So, Case, what do you say about that perfect game? "We felt that we haven't played our best football game, yet," he said. "And honestly, I'd say that we're still striving for that."

This might not have been that perfect game for which the Cougars have been striving. But this was the game, the performance, the fans have been looking for all season. It was a dominating performance by the offense and defense and special teams from the kickoff to the end of the game. And if the Cougars ever do get that perfect game, then it's going to be a beautiful thing to behold.

SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES: Seeing as the how the AP dropped the Cougars to 25 after this win, and seeing as how Colt McCoy moved up in Heisman talk because Mack Brown let him pad his stats against Kansas, it's obvious that the only way the Cougars and Case Keenum can get any respect is to also let Keenum pad his stats against mediocre competition. Sure McCoy hasn't shown that he can actually perform in the clutch like Keenum, but it's obvious that padding stats is more important than performing in the clutch -- see this Richard Justice slobber fest for proof...The Coaches Poll and the BCS rewarded the Cougars, however. The Coaches poll moved them up to 20 and the BCS moved them up to 23.


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