Houston Cougars 2013 College Football Preview
2012 Overall: 5-7
The Houston Cougars enter American Athletic Conference play coming off a disappointing 5-7 season. The Cougars welcome a new offensive coordinator this year but their potent offensive attack should be business as usual and the Cougars hope a more experienced defensive unit can redeem themselves after a dreadful final half of the 2012 season.
OFFENSE: Houston welcomes long time Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Doug Meachem this season and expect him to hit the ground running with a unit that returns all but one starter this season. The Cougars return likely all conference running back Charles Sims who racked up over 1,200 yards last season despite missing nearly 4 total games. Sims will find four of the five offensive lineman he ran behind last year back and quarterback David Piland should be poised for a strong year after a solid debut last season. Pilard threw for over 2,900 yards on the season and added 16 touchdowns as well. Houston returns a very strong WR unit that features Xavier Maxwell and Dewayne Peace. Though in a back up role last season, the Cougars expect big things from conference USA all-freshman team wideout Deontay Greenberry.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
DEFENSE: The Houston defense will be the key to the season for the Cougars and unfortunately the outlook is bleak at this point. Houston gave up 35 points or more in 5 straight games around the middle of last season and in a new conference where there will be even more offensive firepower, that is a recipe for disaster. The Cougars do welcome new coordinator Dave Gibbs to town but his decision to implement a new 3-4 scheme all but guarantees a rough year ahead. The Cougars return just four starters on D and most all of them are in the secondary. Zach McMillan anchors the secondary and racked up 5 interceptions last season - leading Conference USA. The player to watch on D for the Cougars is freshman all-american safety Trevon Stewart who came on strong getting the starting nod in the final 10 games of the season. In those 10 games, Stewart racked up just over 120 tackles and a pick.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Cougars will hold auditions for kicker this summer but expect Kyle Bullard to be the guy. Houston also returns Richie Leone at punter and his mammoth 45.5 yards per punt average from last year.
OUTLOOK: Things are in place for a bright future in the AAC at Houston. Their offensive skill alone should keep them in most games and if some young players can step up, the Cougars could be the surprise team of this league. I expect a massive season for Charlie Sims and David Piland but expect the youth and scheme adjustment on D to keep the Cougars just shy of a winning record this year.