1. What is the biggest question mark for Houston heading on the road for the first time?
The biggest question mark would be quite honestly everything. I'm not trying to avoid the question but the Coogs still really don't know much about their team considering they defeated an average FCS team with a first year head coach and coordinators making their debuts with new systems. But if I had to pin down two areas I would say establishing an interior run game (team captain Kenneth Farrow only rushed for 49 yards), and pass defense. Busted assignments in an experienced secondary allowed Tennessee Tech to pass for 312 yards, including 264 by one receiver alone.
2.What do you feel like the team strength will be this year?
I'm contradicting myself from question number one but I feel the strength will be the run game, by the time the season ends anyway. Coach Tom Herman and offensive coordinator Major Applewhite will get the interior run game going and QB Greg Ward Jr. will continue having great games rushing just based off of his athleticism alone. Like your dynamic QB, Ward can turn a bad play into a great play in a matter of seconds with his feet.
3.What newcomers will have a big impact on Saturday?
Wide receivers Chance Allen, Kyle Postma and Tyreik Gray. Allen is a transfer from Oregon who while catching only 3 passes for 56 yards against Tennessee Tech, has the speed to burn opposing secondaries deep on play-action posts. Ward barely overthrew Allen on what would have been two sure long TDs, by inches. Postma was running third string QB until last week when Herman decided to give the 6-foot-3 inch, 205 pound athlete a shot at receiver. Herman said he should have made the switch sooner as Postma "has a 10-foot broad dunk and he's seen him do some crazy windmill dunks." Gray is jut a freak athlete, though he's still just a true freshman who doesn't know what he's doing on the field. With time Gray has the speed to burn corners deep as he was also moved to receiver from running back just to get him on the field. At Houston's Lamar HS the 4-star prospect had over 3,800 all-purpose yards with 65 TDs and was named the 13th best RB in the state by Scout.
4.Who is the player the opponent better keep a close eye on in game one?
Greg Ward is literally the answer. If Louisville linebackers, safeties or corners take their eyes off Ward (when in man coverage), he can and will burn them running the ball. Todd Grantham's best course of action is to play a lot of zone to keep Ward in front of them, making the Houston QB beat them with his arm. Defensively I would have to say defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. He's going to have the same problem as Grantham in trying to keep Lamar Jackson under wraps. This could be a difficult proposition as Orlando loves blitzing almost as much as Grantham from his base 3-4 scheme.
5.What is the key to victory for Houston?
The key to victory will be not allowing themselves to get psyched out mentally as this is their first road game under Herman. He always preaches that a team will have to overcome adversity to win. We'll find out Saturday. This game will probably come down to what it always does; who establishes their will on the line of scrimmage. The team who runs better and has fewer turnovers wins.