Football Schedule First Look: Houston Cougars

Scott Halleran

The Bearcats will head to Houston for the first time in over a decade to play the Cougars and second year head coach, and renowned prankster, Tony Levine.

The Basics

Name University of Houston
Location Houston, TX
Head Coach Tony Levine
Career Record 6-7
Last Year 5-7

2012 In Four Sentences Or less

Its never a good thing to lose the first game of the season to a team that is new to FBS football, but that is what Houston did falling to Texas State in the home and season opener. That performance led to the resignation of then offensive coordinator Mike Nessbit, the change was followed with losses to Louisian Tech* and UCLA. The Cougars won three of four against Rice, North Texas and UTEP before the defensive bottom fell out down the stretch. The cougars allowed 38 points per game in Novemeber with the only win coming against lowly Tulane to finish 5-7.

Who Is Coming Back?

The majority of the offense will come back. Dave Piland produced what most whould consider to be a good season, 3,000 yards with 60 per cent completion percentage and a positive TD/INT ratio. But Houston is not most places, and there is a real posability that Piland could be out as starter. Whoever gets the job will get to work behind a solid line returning four starters from last year, and one more with at least 10 career starts. The receiving core is intact as well, but all purpose beast Charles Sims has left the program.

The defense is resetting. Just four starters return, and just two of them in the front 7. That could be a big problem in the AAC which posesses far fewer teams that like to spread and shred, and more that want to grind out offense. There is talent, but the depth is lacking.

What Will They Run?

All Air Raid all the time. Tony Levine was an assistant for both Kevin Sumlin and Dana Holgorsen when both were at Houston. So his offense will include all the elements that have made the Air Raid such a lasting system, but with a twist, particularly their emphasis on Charles Sims as an all purpose weapon. Sims is gone, but his role will remain.

The defense will be headed by David Gibbs a guy who has primarily worked in the NFL of late. He will probably keep the Cougars in a 4-3 base. Most of Sumlin's stay in Houston the Cougars played a hybrid 3-4. Levine switched to a 4-3 in his first year, and the lack of depth showed down the stretch. The biggest problem with switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 isn't finding starters, its finding guys who can play beyond the starters. It should be better in year two, with a new approach.

Can You Wrap This Up? I Have Things To Do

The Houston game is a classic trap game for the Bearcats. Sandwhiched between crucial dates with Rutgers and Lousiville to close the season. Houston will almost certainly be improved this season. But there are still questions, particularly along the defensive front which will see more run in their season in the AAC than they saw in Conference USA. The offense shouldn't have a problem getting traction in the new conference. I fully expect to see Houston at or near the top of the passing charts this year, but the defense will be a big question mark all year long.

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