College Football Preview: The 2015 Houston Cougars
Houston Cougars Preview
2014 Record: 8-5 (3rd in the AAC) Won Armed Forces Bowl against Pitt 35-34
Odds to Win National Championship: +400000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Houston Cougars have reached a bowl game in seven of their last 10 seasons and racked up 21 wins in three seasons under head coach Tony Levine. Now Tom Herman will get his chance to keep the ball rolling. Houston has won 16 games in the two seasons since transferring from the C-USA, and now the Cougars hope to take yet another step forward and win double-digit games for the first time since 2011.
Offense: Houston’s offense will be led by running back Kenneth Farrow who topped 1,000 rushing yards last season and led the AAC with 15 touchdowns. Farrow and Ryan Jackson from one of the better running back duos in the country. At quarterback, the Cougars return Greg Ward Jr. but also have the option of Utah transfer Adam Schulz. Ward Jr. wasn’t much of a difference maker last year, throwing 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions on 263 pass attempts. Wide receiver took a hit with Deontay Greenberry leaving for the NFL, as Demarcus Ayers and Steven Dunbar will be forced to grow up quickly. The offensive line is also an area of concern with only two starters returning from a unit that allowed 34 sacks.
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Defense: Houston is set to have one of its better defenses of recent memory with many key guys returning from a unit that was top-20 last season. Steven Taylor is an underrated linebacker who makes plays all over the field and Tyus Bowser is an athletic player due for a breakout season. The Cougars secondary is downright scary with Adrian McDonald, Trevon Stewart and Howard Wilson returning, a trio that produced 11 of the team's 19 interceptions. Houston's defensive line takes a hit with losses of Trevor Harris and Jeremiah Farley. Still, Houston has a few guys on the defensive side of the ball who will get looks from the NFL, and after seeing what this unit did last year, there’s no reason why the Cougars won’t once again have one of the best defenses in the country.
Special Teams: Kyle Bullard returns at kicker after making 72.7 percent of his field goals on 20 attempts. Logan Piper returns at punter after averaging 39.3 yards per kick on 43 attempts.
Overall: It’s always tough to figure out a team with a new head coach. However, Houston has a great defense in place and a running back who can shoulder the load offensively. The Cougars main concern is a revamped offensive line that will either make or break them. Still, I see Houston making a bowl game for the third straight season.