We are less than two months away from Oklahoma kicking off its 2016 season at NRG Stadium in Houston. The Cougars, fresh off a 13-1 season and a win vs. Florida State in the Peach Bowl, are not going to just be a walkover.
So what should fans expect? Cougar Digest publisher Rob Sellers is here to break it all down. We’ll do another installment of “five questions” with Sellers the week leading up to the game, but here’s the feeling in Houston heading into camp.
Coming off such a sensational season in 2015, where do you see the biggest difference right now with quarterback Greg Ward heading into this year?
For him, another year of confidence and another year of them being able to squeeze another few pounds of muscle on him should be seen as positives. He has also continued to work on his pocket presence and his ability to let things develop another second or two before taking off.
Houston was among the darlings of college football in 2015. But nobody underestimates the Cougars heading into 2016. How is the team handling the increased level of expectations?
Thus far, they have continued the same mentality that Herman instilled in his first season, which is a business-like approach. As camp opens, I expect there to be noticeable jump in attention from the media with such a big game on tap to open the season, we’ll get a better look then on how everyone is handling it.
How is Houston viewing this OU game? Is this a statement game for the Cougars or just another contest? OU fans, for the most part, have circled Sept. 17 vs. Ohio State, are Houston fans doing the same thing except with OU being circled?
Of course the team will likely stick with the party line of “it is the most important game because it is the next game” but for the fans, they are riding high off of last season’s success and have definitely circled the Oklahoma game as their “next chance to size themselves up to a highly respected program.” They know if they win the opener, the race could be on to another New Year’s Six bowl with only a couple of major obstacles remaining along the way.
Everybody likes to talk about the Houston high-powered offense, but the Cougars will need to stop the Sooners offense as well. Who is that defensive leader for Houston?
Houston did lose a ton of experience on the defensive side of the ball. They lost players on the defense that had been long term starters and big producers. Coming into camp a few names worth keeping an eye on will be LB Steven Taylor (entering 4th year starting), DL B.J. Singleton (entering 3rd year starting), OLB Tyus Bowser (one of their best pass rushers) and DB Brandon Wilson (also entering 3rd year starting and the most versatile athlete for UH, he also returns kicks and played a standout game a RB due to injuries last season).
Tom Herman became the toast of the town in college football with what he did last season at Houston. Besides wins and losses, what is one or two of the biggest things Herman has brought to the Cougars to transform this program?
More than anything else he has this team 100 percent bought into his leadership, direction and vision for the program. There were some growing pains early on but once the team bought in, it became evident they were confident in any situation they were put in. He has brought a change in culture that honestly hasn’t been seen around this beat since I began in early 2009. The team oozes confidence but not cockiness, similar to Herman.