Coogs Look Good To Open The Season
With 2:22 left in the first quarter on Saturday night, the Houston Cougars were already leading the Northwestern State Demons 28-0. The Cougars had possessed the football four times, and they had scored each time. They scored in 59 seconds, in 1:12, again in 59 seconds, and then an endless drive of 2:22.
Quarterback Case Keenum had completed 11 of 13 passes for two touchdowns to seven different receivers. By the time the carnage finally ended, the Cougars had won the season's first game by the score of 55-7 before a Robertson Stadium crowd of 22,043.
To this, after the game, head coach Kevin Sumlin stated: "I thought we came out and started fast. I don't know how many it was -- four or five straight possessions that we scored."
It was five as the Cougars also scored on their first possession of the second quarter.
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The breakout star of the game was freshman running back Charles Sims.
Sims only finished with three yards rushing on three attempts, but he caught six passes out of the backfield for 128 yards -- including a pretty 23-yard TD scamper on a screen pass from Keenum -- and he rushed for another.
Sophomore running back Bryce Beall, the game's starter, finished with 58 yards on nine rushes (over six yards per rush) and a TD while also catching a TD pass from Keenum.
"We have two backs who are able to catch the ball out of the backfield and run with it. Which puts pressure on the defense." Sumlin said of the duo. "We've got a bunch of weapons and we need them because it's a long season,"
And pressure the defense the Coogs did throughout the game. Keenum was pulled early in the third quarter after his fourth TD pass of the game, this one to L.J. Castile, put the Cougars up 48-7. He finished the game 23-for-30 for 359 yards. He also rushed for another touchdown, and if there was a player on the Cougars eligible to catch a pass, then Keenum got him the football.
"Usually the plan is to throw it to the open guy, and we had some guys who got open tonight," Keenum said. "A lot of different plays, a lot of different players, and they did some good things working up the field after they caught the ball. The offensive line did a good job of getting me some time, and those guys got open."
And the pace of the game didn't really get to the Cougars. Not according to senior starting center Carl Barnett: "We practice that type of flow every day at practice," he said. "Today, it was a lot easier even than at practice. We came out there and executed plays....we do this every day. It was normal to us....if we play like that, we'll win."
With Northwestern State out of the way, the Cougars now turn their attention to next week's game against the highly ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys. And Barnett's already preparing for that game.
"You've got to get ready fast," he said. "They're a good team. We played them last year. There are opportunities that we didn't make last year, so this week has to go by fast. We've got to get on the film real early and start learning our opponent."
As for this 55-7 win, Barnett summed up it best: "Today was a good win, but we expected this win....Now we've got to move on and get ready for Oklahoma State."
SOME MISCELLANEOUS GAME NOTES: Along with Charles Sims, freshman receiving phenom A.J. Dugat, who was recently cleared by the NCAA to practice and play with the team, debuted. His first reception went for 34 yards as he made several nice moves to elude tacklers....Sophomore Patrick Edwards also got in some game action for the first time since his injury against Marshall last season. He was the team's second leading receiver, catching four passes for 52 yards....Bryce Beall said he enjoyed splitting action with Sims, stating that this made them both better. He also said they were having a competition on who would score the most in the game -- they tied with two TDs each.....Despite the final score, and the win, the defense was not pleased that it allowed a touchdown. Defensive lineman Tyrell Graham was not happy that they let up on Northwestern State. "I wanted them to have a good egg on the board," he said. Coach Sumlin was also not totally pleased. "We did not sustain it," he said of the team's strong start, both offensively and defensively. But he also thought this had a lot to do with playing a large number of freshmen as the game went on.
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