Why They’re Here: In addition to throwing machine QB Case Keenum, the Cougars are bringing back a total of nine starters on offense. Keenum is obviously the key, but only losing two guys from a unit that routinely put up 400 yards a game will get you a long way. There are questions about the defense, but overall this could be the year a team from Conference-USA challenges for a shot at the national championship.
The Good: Case Keenum is back. He’s got his receivers back and a running back corps that could be one of the deepest in the nation. Unlike some college coaches who like to pretend they care about running the ball, coach Kevin Sumlin is content to air it out all day, every day. Keenum is obviously in the conversation for this year’s Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, but will it be enough? The Cougars are bringing back three all-conference receivers to help Keenum out, so it just might be. Andre Ware better watch himself.
The Bad: The defense is awful. It’s atrocious. It’s abominable. Jim Brown could put on his pads right now and probably run for a buck fifty on these guys. If Steven A. Smith covered college football, he would call these guys a group of bonafide scrubs. They only return five starters, and if the guys behind the six who aren’t coming back couldn’t get on the field last year…man. The D ranked 112th in the nation last year and were dead last in C-USA, a conference not really known for its defense. Thankfully, they don’t play any rushing juggernauts, but trips to UCLA and Southern Miss could prove to be too much for Houston’s defense to tackle (literally and figuratively).
The Last Word: This is a team that lives and dies by scoring points. Their game against Air Force in last year’s Armed Forces Bowl exposed their total ineptitude at stopping the run, which is why they lost. They won’t see the triple option or anything like it this year, but any back with talent and some size will be trouble. As long as the defense can create turnovers and the offense can score 40 a game, the dubs (Ws) will keep going up. But it’s tough to win consistently when those are the requirements.
Final Record: 10-3