2009 Houston Cougars Football Preview
2008 Record: (8-5, 6-2)
2008 Bowl: Armed Forces Bowl vs. Air Force (W 34-28)
Coach: Kevin Sumlin (8-5 at Houston, 8-5 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dana Holgorsen and Jason Phillips
Defensive Coordinator: John Skladany
Rushing: Bryce Beall, RB, 1,272 yards
Passing: Case Keenum, QB, 5,020 yards
Receiving: Tyron Carrier, WR, 1,026 yards
Tackles: Marcus McGraw, LB, 103
Sacks: Tyrell Graham, DE, 1.5
Interceptions: Brandon Brinkley, CB, 4; Loyce Means, CB, 4
Other Key Returnees: K Ben Bell, LB C.J. Cavness, WR Patrick Edwards, RB Andre Kohn, LB Matt Nicholson, WR Chaz Rodriguez, P Chase Turner
Key Losses: DT Ell Ash, S Kenneth Fontenette, WR Mark Hafner, DE Phillip Hunt, LB Cody Lubojasky, S Ernest Miller, OT SirVincent Rogers, OT Sebastian Vollmer
It sure did not take Coach Kevin Sumlin long to get his offense rolling. In his first year at the helm, Coach Sumlin saw his team rank second in the nation in passing offense and total offense. With all the skill players returning, year two could be even more impressive. Watch out Texas Tech.
Quarterback Case Keenum threw for an incredible 5,020 yards and 44 touchdowns as a sophomore. With nearly all of his receiving targets back, the passing attack will be extremely impressive. Tyron Carrier caught 80 passes for 1,026 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman. Those are some great numbers for a freshman even in this pass heavy offense. Patrick Edwards and Chaz Rodriguez are more than capable of filling in for the departed Mark Hafner. Add Chris Gilbert, L.J. Castille and Kierrie Johnson to the mix and Keenum can spread the ball all over the field. What makes the Houston offense so special is Bryce Beall. As a freshman the 5-11 back rushed for 1,247 yards and 13 touchdowns and even caught 34 passes for 496 yards and four touchdowns. The fact that the Cougars can be dangerous in the air and on the ground makes them one of the most dynamic offenses in the nation.
However, the offensive line pretty much has to rebuild from scratch. There are some big bodies that have some experience who should be ready to fill in, but nobody is going to replace tackles SirVincent Rogers and Sebastian Vollmer very easily. Yet, it is the defense that is the largest problem. The unit only returns four starters and replacing end Phillip Hunt, who tallied 14.0 sacks and 18.5 tackles-for-loss will be impossible. The front four has to find a new rusher or the defense will be worse than it was last year. Cornerback Brandon Brinkley has to become a leader in the secondary while safeties Kenneth Fontenette and Ernest Miller are replaced. Most of the experience on defense is at the linebacker position. Marcus McGraw had a superb freshman campaign and led the team in tackles, but some other youngsters have to step up and fill in all the holes on that side of the ball.
The Bottom Line for the Cougars:
Houston will win plenty of games by outscoring their opponents. But they have to be able to stop somebody if they want to compete for a C-USA championship. Keenum and company averaged over 40 points per game last year and that number could be more impressive this time around. However the defense gave up nearly 31 points per game in 2008 and that number could actually go up even higher. Either way, the Cougars will be fun to watch if you like offense.
By Joel Welser
Check out all of the 2009 college football previews online through College Sports Fans.
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.