Cougars Overcome Fear of Red Zone to Defeat Temple
It wasn't easy. It wasn't pretty. But the Houston Cougars defeated the Temple Owls 22-13 Saturday afternoon to go 2-0 on the season. They overcame a 13-9 halftime deficit and scored a touchdown at the end of the game to put away the win. The positives were easy to see: the offense has discovered the importance of a good running game; the defense put together another good game; John O'Korn continued to dispel any notions that he shouldn't be the team's quarterback.
Coogs go to 2-0 on the season
There were issues, though. Lots of issues. The offense reached the red zone eight times, getting only four field goals and one touchdown as a result. David Piland looked like the David Piland of last season. Penalties cost the team a touchdown and one defensive player was ejected for targeting.
But the team won. The Cougars will now go down in the record books as the victor of the first ever conference game of the American Athletic Conference. And after last season's 0-3 UH start, no win is too ugly.
The offense continued to churn up the yards on the field, this time gaining a total of 524 yards with 219 of those yards coming from the running game. Running back Ryan Jackson proved that last week was no fluke. He rushed 22 times for 109 yards and scored the team's lone touchdown. Kenneth Farrow rushed for 78 yards before suffering an injury in the first half - he was wearing a walking book as the game ended.
Freshman John O'Korn replaced the struggling David Piland at the start of the second period. O'Korn threw the ball 31 times, connecting on 23 of the attempts, for 233 yards. The offense was efficient under O'Korn, moving up and down the field seemingly with ease - until reaching the red zone. He really seemed to be clicking with the receivers, and he played with a poise that makes him seem more than just a freshman.
It was another strong game for a defensive unit which is looking much improved from last season's unit, and which seems to be really responding to new defensive coordinator David Gibbs. They gave up 13 first half points, but throttled Temple for the rest of the game. Temple amassed only 300 yards on offense and never really got into a rhythm in the second half. The defense forced three turnovers. The defense has surrendered just 26 points in these first two games, which is the fewest points allowed by a UH defense in the first two games to open a season since 1989.
Kicker/punter Richie Leone was the conference's special teams player of the week after the Southern game. He should be in line for that award again, seeing as how he was responsible for 16 of Houston's 22 points, going five for six in field goal attempts and making his lone PAT attempt.