Oklahoma will kickoff its 2019 college football season under the lights against the Houston Cougars. The decision to move the game to Sunday September 1st was met with near sweeping support from Sooner Nation, and the fact that Dana Holgorsen is coming to town with the richest non-power conference contract ever was enough to get ABC involved for broadcasting.
Coming off an 8-5 season in 2019, the Cougars are returning a load of talent and now have one of the more ingenious offensive minds in the game. That doesn’t mean Houston isn’t without questions though.
Will Holgorsen Finally Focus On Defense?
The knock on Holgorsen has always been on the defensive side of the ball. The man is as close to an offensive genius as they come but getting defensive results at West Virginia was never really a reality.
Now he inherits a Houston defense that was possibly the worst in school history a year ago. The Cougars set new school records for points allowed (483), total yards (6,454) and rushing touchdowns (42) in 2018 and turned to another offensive minded coach, in Holgorsen, to take the helm in the off-season.
To complicate matters even worse, new defensive coordinator Joe Cauthen will start rebuilding on that side of the ball without three-time All-American (2016, 2017, 2018) Ed Oliver and 2018 leading tacklers top tacklers Austin Robinson and Roman Brown.
Holgorsen has made a name for himself on the offensive side of the ball but with a $20 million dollar contract comes high expectations. His longevity at Houston will depend on how quickly the defensive side improves. As a stopgap move, the Cougars have brought in a load of JUCO defensive talent.
Can Kyle Porter Take Over As The No. 1 Running Back?
Averaging 5.7 yards per carry in 2018, Patrick Carr led Houston in rushing yards with 868 and scored five rushing touchdowns. He’s anything but a shoo-in to be the top running back in 2019 though as former Texas Longhorn Kyle Porter in now in the picture.
After seeing his production dwindle to practically nothing in 2018 (1 carry for 2 yards after recording 83 carries in 2017), Porter sought greener pastures closer to home. The Katy, Texas native has two years of eligibility remaining, as a graduate transfer, and brings 27 games of experience to Dana Holgorsen’s offense.
It’s uncertain that Porter will reach RB #1 status at Houston but what he will do is add quality depth to a backfield that already featured Carr and quarterback D’Eriq King.
Just How Dangerous Will Houston’s Offense Be?
New Oklahoma defensive coordinator Alex Grinch won’t have time to ease into the season as Holgorsen may have the best offense he’s ever brought to Norman.
Before missing the final two and a half games with a torn meniscus in his right knee, quarterback D’Eriq King was eighteen yards shy of a 3,000 yard passing season, had rushed for 674 yards and was responsible for an FBS best 50 touchdowns.
Led by Marquez Stevenson, King’s top three targets are all back in 2019. Stevenson recorded a career-high 75 catches for 1,019 yards and nine touchdowns last season and paces a talented trio that also includes Keith Corbin and Courtney Lark.
Among the top 10 nationally in scoring (43.9 ppg) and total offense (512.5 ypg) in 2018, Houston is returning most of its skill players in 2019. With Dana Holgorsen calling the plays for this group you can absolutely expect things to get a bit uneasy in Norman on September 1st.