A new era at the University of Houston. Major Applewhite is gone and reports suggest that he was done in by an outsized ego and undersized accomplishments. The Cougars landed a major upgrade for the head coaching spot bringing in former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. He’s making a ton of money but he has deep roots to the area and his presence alone should make for significant improvements this season.
Holgorsen is installing his ‘Air Raid’ offense and he could have been lured to Houston by the personnel on hand. It would be hard to find a better fit at quarterback than preseason 1st team AAC D’Eriq King. King has a ton of weapons around him including 1st team AAC wide receiver Marquez Stevenson and running back Patrick Carr. They’ll be a handful for any defense and particularly a porous one such as Oklahoma’s–more about that in a moment.
Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts is the new quarterback at Oklahoma and he faces the daunting task of replacing Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. Houston is switching to an ultra aggressive 4-2-5 defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen who comes from Arkansas State. His defense there was a veritable ‘sack factory’ getting 146 in his four year tenure. That will put even more pressure on a Sooners’ offensive line that lost four starters to the NFL.
A bigger issue for the Sooners is their defense which last year was, in a word, awful. They finished ranked #124 in total defense and #96 in scoring defense giving up 32.4 PPG. They were also #129 out of 130 FBS teams in passing defense allowing 291.4 yards per game. The already woeful pass coverage took another blow when cornerback Tre Norwood was lost for the season. The Cougars would have presented a challenge for even a competent defense to stop. They could make things extremely miserable for the Sooners much maligned stop unit.
The big question here–why are the Sooners 22 point favorites with their rebuilt offense and porous defense? Think the name on the uniform has something to do with it? Houston might not be able to pull off the outright win but they’re more than able to stay within three touchdowns.