Cougars Throttle Southern, Wipe Away Some Memories of Last Season
The Houston Cougars got the 2013 football season off to a nice start on Friday night, defeating Southern 62-13 before 26,205 inside Reliant Stadium. It's hard to really tell much about a team after a game like this -- teams like Southern are brought in for the guaranteed win, after all. But after UH was upset by Texas State in last year's opening game, it's easy to know this much: This season is already off to a much better start for the Cougars. With that said, a few things were learned from this game.
University of Houston Athletics Department Ryan Jackson breaks off a large gain on Friday night
4. WHO IS THIS CHARLES SIMS GUY?
The Cougars supposedly took a major hit to the program when running back Charles Sims departed for West Virginia. But it was hard to tell the team was damaged on Friday as the running game looked the best it has looked since the Jack Pardee era. The Cougars had 627 yards of total offense against Southern, and 372 of those yards were generated by the running game. Sophomore Kenneth Farrow got the start, and he ran the ball 20 times for 101 yards. But the breakout star of the game was sophomore back Ryan Jackson, who carried the ball ten times for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Both were impressive, with Jackson providing a few jaw-dropping runs and Farrow powering the ball.
Head coach Tony Levine said after the game that each play the team runs is designed as a run and a pass with the defense that's being played dictating which option the quarterback will choose. And with Southern daring UH to run the ball, the Cougars did.
"It's all about execution," Jackson said. "We practice so much. We work so hard. The whole thing was just a blessing. We came out with an attitude that we wanted to execute our offense, and that's what I felt like I did, felt like we did that as a team."
3. WATCH OUT FOR THE PENALTIES
The win was a seemingly easy one for the Cougars, but despite the ease of the win, it was still a sloppy affair with way too many penalties. The Cougars were penalized 14 times for a total of 126 yards, and Levine called that disappointing, noting that they had numerous big offensive gains knocked out by a penalty. He noted that the squad has worked on execution and limiting penalties throughout camp, going so far as to call in officials to monitor workouts and scrimmages and call the penalties they see.
"That's unacceptable," he said. "That's something we have been emphasizing. We've had officials at practice quite often."
And while he was displeased with the number of penalties, he thought that much of it might have resulted from opening-game jitters and the large number of substitutes playing as the game progressed and the score got out of hand. It's a problem the team will work on, but it's something that should be easily fixable.