In front of its second sellout in a row and a national television audience, the Houston Cougars used a balanced offense and an improving defense to defeat the UTEP Miners 54-24 at Robertson Stadium Friday night or should I say Saturday morning as the game did not end until well past midnight.
The Cougars' (2-0, 1-0 in conference) ground game was magnificent as Bryce Beall ran for 195 yards on 10 carries and newcomer Michael Hayes ran for 77 yards on 17 carries. All together, the Cougars rushed for 308 yards and six TDs in the game.
Beall gave praise to the OL for his success saying, "They (the OL) went out there and gave me the holes to run through."
Coach Sumlin summarized the OL's performance by repeating what he had said in Tuesday's pre-game press conference, "I said earlier in the week that the most physical team, the team that was going to be able to run the ball and could stop the run, would win the game. I think the offensive line took it as a challenge."
Case Keenum, while exiting in the third quarter due to an injury that occurred as he tried to tackle UTEP's Travaun Nixon after he was intercepted, passed for 279 yards completing 15 of his 24 attempts.
Coach Sumlin, when asked in the post-game press conference about Keenum's status, said, "I just talked to him; he was smiling in the locker room. So we'll evaluate it and see where he is. Additionally, he said, "The situation was such at that point of the game, the way Cotton was playing, there was no need to do anything. We'll see where it is."
In relief, QB cotton Turner passed for 69 yards and a TD on completing 9 of 10 passing attempts.
On his being prepared to come in as QB, Turner said, "You take mental reps when you are not in and see yourself out there doing what Case does and when you get out there, hopefully, just respond, make the plays."
Patrick Edwards led all receivers with 6 receptions for 118 yards as the Cougars opened up the offense by going downfield more than they had done versus Texas State last week. RB Michael Hayes contributed to his great running performance by catching 4 passes for 75 yards and James Cleveland contributed 66 yards on 6 catches.
Overall, the Cougars amassed 656 yards for the game on 76 plays from scrimmage averaging 8.6 yards per play.
Of the game, Sumlin said, "I'm pleased with the effort. I think our guys are playing hard, making plays. All things considered, it's still a good win."
Defensive Coordinator Coach Brian Stewart said, "We didn't want them to run the ball on us and I think we did a good job of stopping that. Outside the quarterback's 24 yard run, I thought we did a good job of containing the run. I think we need to work on coverage and get better on third down, for the most part I think we improved."
All-in-all the game was never in doubt.
Next, the Cougars travel to take on the UCLA Bruins in the Rose Bowl, Saturday, October 18 at 9:30pm CT.