The Houston Cougars don't want to start off another game like they did last week. A start where the opposition, a clearly lesser school, jumps off to a lead. A start that finds the team struggling to find an offensive rhythm. A start finding the Cougars with only a 20-17 halftime lead over North Texas at the half with an unhappy team. The Cougars were a different team in the second half last week, rolling up 21 third-quarter points as they stormed out to the 48-23 win.
"Everybody was a little frustrated," head coach Kevin Sumlin said on Tuesday afternoon. "It is a little bit different offensively and defensively. Offensively, we were just a little off. I think we dropped the ball on the ground and we missed some touchdowns. They weren't just missed first downs, they were big plays on the field. Defensively, we had bad field position."
The Cougars (2-0) are taking on Louisiana Tech (1-1) tomorrow night, and Sumlin doesn't want to see a repeat performance. Sumlin doesn't want to rely on halftime speeches to get his players charged up for victory. He wants them in the game from the start.
As with North Texas last week, the Cougars shouldn't have to play a perfect game to defeat Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs lost to Southern Miss in opening week, and they struggled to get the overtime victory over Central Arkansas last week. The Bulldogs bring one of the top special teams in the country into the game. Louisiana Tech is the top-ranked punt return team in the nation, but the Cougars balance that out by being the nation's number one team in punts.
There's a lot of familiarity between the coaching staffs, as Sumlin and Bulldog head coach Sonny Dykes both served on the Texas Tech offensive staff at the same time, and Dykes was an offensive assistant coach with the Red Raiders when Kliff Kingsbury, the team's co-offensive coordinator, was the Texas Tech quarterback. But Sumlin says not to expect the two teams to be running the same offenses.
The Bulldog offense is led by senior running back Lennon Creer, who, back in his high school days, made UH running back Bryce Beall play defensive back because he couldn't beat out Creer.
"They have good athletes and are well coached," Sumlin said of the Bulldogs. "After last weekend, what we talked about is how to handle situations and how to prepare for a game. We talked about the three things to prepare for a game, which is physically, mentally and emotionally. One and two is what us coaches will prepare you to do. Emotionally, you have to be ready to play on Saturday."
And while Sumlin worries about getting the team prepared to start the game, Dykes is keeping his focus on Keenum and the UH offense.
"The thing that he can do is, he does a great job of taking the easy throws, completing passes, moving them down the field and then taking shots down the field as well," Dykes said. "They have explosive players, explosive running backs, explosive wide receivers and they will kind of nickel and dime you, and all of the sudden a 65-yard touchdown. That's kind of what they do. They execute it well."
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The game, being played on the road at Louisiana Tech, is due to kick off at 6 p.m., and you can once again find the video at ESPN3.com. Tom Franklin and crew will once again be handling the radio duties on 790 AM.
ALSO THIS WEEKEND IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL The Rice Owls are off this weekend. So if you needed some additional games to watch for your college football fix, there are, for week three of the season, some surprisingly good games being played this weekend.
The best game, and the game in prime time, is Oklahoma going up against Florida State. The Longhorns return to the Rose Bowl, but instead of playing for the national title, they're facing a bad UCLA team. Tennessee and Florida should be a good SEC match-up -- this is your future, A&M. The Aggies, meanwhile, are playing the powerhouse that is known as Idaho. Notre Dame and head coach Brian Kelly seek their first victory of the year when they host undefeated Michigan State. Watching Kelly melt down on the sidelines once again should make this game worth watching.
The awfulness of C-USA football will once again be revealed as Tulsa should be demolished by Oklahoma State, and you should really pray to whatever entity you believe in that the UAB-Tulane game is not being televised.