Houston finds ways to win

Whether it be the usual pass-happy approach or with the powerful legs of Beall, all Sumlin wants from his team is to find a way to win.


   The end result was all that really mattered, and in that regard, the Houston Cougars started their post-Keenum life just fine.

   With true freshman quarterback Terrance Broadway running the offense, the Cougars (3-1, 2-0 Conference USA) survived a scare to knock off Tulane 42-23 on Saturday in Houston. Tulane had cut the lead to 28-23 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game.

   Broadway didn't put up the passing numbers Houston was accustomed to under former starter Case Keenum. Instead, the rest of the Cougars, running back Bryce Beall in particular, stepped up their production.

   The weight of responsibility, as head coach Kevin Sumlin preached since Keenum went down last week with a torn ACL, was going to shift for the Cougars.

   "You lose people, guys get hurt, which happened to be the situation that happened to us," Sumlin said. "The weight shifted, it can shift during the game and the season. One person is not going to fill Case Keenum's shoes, but as a team, you can do that. And today was a really good team victory."

   Broadway certainly wasn't bad. In his first start, he completed 19 of 28 passes for 174 yards and an interception while also being sacked five times. The dual-threat quarterback also had 21 on 11 carries.

   Beall, on the other hand, looked the part of potential breakout star for the Cougars. While he's had great games in the past, the Cougars will need to get more consistent production from the junior, who responded Saturday with 123 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns.

   Whether it be the usual pass-happy approach or with the powerful legs of Beall, all Sumlin wants from his team is to find a way to win.

   "I want the perception to be that University of Houston is a winning school," Sumlin said. "Running, passing, kicking field goals, intercepting balls, whatever it takes to win football games. That is the perception we are trying to create."


   --While the Houston offense tries to figure out how to live life after the loss of star QB Case Keenum, the defense is still leaning heavily on unheralded star LB Marcus McGraw.

   "I tell people all the time, the best player on the team is Marcus McGraw," Houston receiver Tyron Carrier said in the Houston Chronicle. "Some plays I see him make, I say, 'Wow.' If you see the ball, (McGraw) is going to be around it. That's just the way it is."

   McGraw, a junior who has started all 31 games of his college career, had a team-high 10 tackles in the Cougars' win Saturday over Tulane, including getting credited for half a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. He has 33 tackles on the season and has recovered two fumbles.

   --With QB Case Keenum done for the year after tearing his ACL on Sept. 18, Saturday marked the first time since Nov. 24, 2007, vs. Texas Southern that someone other than Keenum started at quarterback for the Cougars. Keenum's streak of 43 consecutive starts ended last week at UCLA.

   --Houston's win over Tulane extended to 17 its home winning streak at Robertson Stadium, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation among FBS schools.

   GAME BALL GOES TO: CB Loyce Means -- Beall may have carried the load for the offense, but it was Means who stepped up to close the door on Tulane. After Tulane cut the lead to 28-23 with less than 10 minutes left Saturday, it was the senior Means who picked off a pair of passes in the final six minutes to seal the victory. His 42-yard interception return for a touchdown with 2:50 left in the game closed the scoring at 42-23.

   KEEP AN EYE ON: RB Bryce Beall -- Beall is far from an unknown in the Cougars' offense, but with QBs Case Keenum and Cotton Turner both done for the year, it would be foolish for Houston not to up the workload of its junior running back star. In the first game after Keenum's season-ending injury, Beall rushed for 123 yards and four TDs and could end up being one of the statistical leaders among C-USA running backs by season's end.

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "That spoke volumes about who we are right now. I couldn't be prouder of how they responded in that situation." -- Houston coach Kevin Sumlin about how well his defense and special teams played in a win Saturday over Tulane.


   LOOKING GOOD: The Houston run game looked solid Saturday led by junior Bryce Beall rumbling for 123 yards and four rushing touchdowns. He'll need to continue that for Houston's offense to continue producing points now that a true freshman is running the show at quarterback. The Cougars' defense also rose to the occasion Saturday in the closing moments as senior CB Loyce Means picked off a pair of passes -- Nos. 2 and 3 of his career -- in the final six minutes to help push a five-point cushion to a 42-23 victory. Junior LB Marcus McGraw had his usual workmanlike outing with a team-high 10 tackles.

   STILL NEEDS WORK: Nobody is expecting Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin to open up the passing playbook for true freshman QB Terrance Broadway quite like he did for senior starter Case Keenum or junior backup Cotton Turner. But now that both of those players are lost for the season due to injury, it appears there might be a long road ahead to get Broadway ready from a purely passing standpoint to have the Cougars' offense approach the type of pass-dominated scheme it has become known for. Broadway, who was sacked five times Saturday, loves to tuck the ball and run, but that's not the way the Cougars have run its offense for years. Getting Broadway on the same page with his receivers and the rest of the offense is certainly a work in progress, even if overall he didn't look all that bad vs. Tulane.


   --QB Terrance Broadway started Saturday against Tulane and was the first person not named Case Keenum to start for Houston since Nov. 24, 2007. He was also the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Houston since Kevin Kolb started against Rice on Aug. 30, 2003.

   --K Matt Hogan missed a 47-yard field goal with 11:41 remaining in the third quarter Saturday vs. Tulane. It was the first miss by the sophomore, snapping a school record of 16 consecutive field goals made to start a career.


Cougar Digest Top Stories