Five Questions About Houston at UCLA

In anticipation of this weekend's UCLA - Houston match up at the Rose Bowl, Coogfans.com's Jimmy Schoefield answers a few questions about what the Bruins can expect...

Q. How are the Cougars adjusting to the resignation of offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt?

A: They are adjusting very well, though it's only been one game since his resignation. The team had 693 total yards (including 580 passing) in a 56-49 loss against a Louisiana Tech team that "experts" say could be this year's BCS Buster.

Redshirt sophomore QB David Piland completed 53 of 77 passes with 4 touchdowns, and had at least 10 drops by his receivers. This comes just one week after he played very poorly (as the entire team did) in completing only 17 of 44 passes for 211 yards in a 30-13 loss to Texas State, a team making the transition from the FCS to the FBS level. He looked shell-shocked (as did the entire team), since it was his first start since November 2010. In the game against Tech, the offense was able to get their quick passing game on rhythm early on. The only thing that seemed to stop them was themselves, with drops, penalties and turnovers.

Q: How will the team rebound after starting off the season 0-2?

A: Hopefully, well. The team's first goal was to win the conference in their final season in Conference-USA (before joining the Big East next season) and they can still accomplish that and go to a nice bowl game. They're still the most talented team in the conference, but that's just on paper. If this team continues its sloppy play as far as penalties, dropped receptions, and turnovers and the defense doesn't learn how to tackle – well, I'll just say it will be a long season on Cullen Boulevard.

Q: What areas have you seen the most improvement from week 1 to week 2?

A: The offense – it flowed well when the passing game got on rhythm. New coordinator Travis Bush called a nice game in keeping Louisiana Tech off balance. The Cougars' offensive scheme is based off the Mike Leach ‘Air Raid,' but uses a lot of misdirection to confuse opposing defenses (much like the Bruins are doing this season). They also employ a no-huddle fast tempo look to try and wear out opponents.

Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the Cougars in facing UCLA?

A: Probably the Bruins' running game. Through two games, the defense is giving up about 245 yards on the ground and they have traditionally struggled with running QBs. Brett Hundley's sprained ankle may be the only way for this defense to stop him in the Bruins' zone read option game. They still have to handle running back Johnathan Franklin, though, and Houston's defense just doesn't have the personnel to stop power rushing teams.

Having said that, the secondary isn't great at covering receivers, either, because the front four aren't getting any pressure on the quarterbacks. On top of everything else, when the Cougars' defenders get close enough, they seem unable to tackle properly. This is something that new defensive coordinator Jamie Bryant and his staff will have to fix during practice each week. This lack of properly being able to wrap up will most definitely be a concern against an athletic yet physical Bruins' offense.

Q: One of the biggest surprises of National Signing Day 2012 was the commitment of top receiver Deontay Greenberry to Houston. What have you seen and what do you expect from this true freshman?

A: Thus far, Cougar fans haven't seen too much, but it's only two games in. He was shut out in the first game against Texas State, as Piland either under or over threw him a few times. Against Tech, he had 5 catches for 34 yards, including his first touchdown – a 13 yarder for the Cougars last score. At 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, he already has the physical tools. Now, he just has to learn route running and how to separate from defensive backs trying to jam him on the LOS – something every other true freshman has to learn. It's a little unrealistic that so many expectations were placed on him so early on, but that's what the "star rating system" does, unfortunately.

Jimmy Schoenfield is a reporter and editor-in-chief of Coogfans.com, FOX Sports NEXT's Houston Cougars site.

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