2016 AAC Football Team Preview: Houston Cougars

Hatts previews SMU's AAC rival Houston in the latest Pony Stampede AAC Team Preview.

Houston’s Tom Herman took the AAC by storm last season winning 13 games in a season for just the second time in school history. Coming off the 13-1 season last year capped off by a 38-24 victory over Florida State, Houston will will look to return to the BCS picture this season with a couple key contributors back.

Herman’s high powered offense has high hopes for another big season with a couple big games including opening their season against Oklahoma at NRG stadium and a date with Louisville later in the year. 

Offense 

Houston’s offense was lethal both on the ground and through the air last season as they averaged just under 485 yards per game while putting up just over 40 points per game. Only twice last season was Houston held under 30 points and four times they put up over 50. Their high powered offense is lead once again by senior quarterback Greg Ward who lead the team last season in rushing with 1,114 yards while still throwing for close to 3,000 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Ward’s not the only weapon however as Houston also welcomes back Steven Dunbar and Chance Allen. Allen is coming off a very good year where he shared the team lead in touchdown receptions with 6 while also racking up 752 yards on 56 catches. He will lead a receiving group this year that lost their top receiver Demarcus Ayers who lead the team last season with 97 catches for 1,221 yards. Along with Dunbar, Houston will look for increased production from Allen, Linell Bonner and Isaiah Johnson who had three touchdowns and 190 yards in Houston’s spring game.

Robert Sellers

At the running back spot, Houston will also be looking to replace their top three running backs from last season who accounted for over 1,600 yards on the ground for the Cougars last season. Not helping matters is Javin Webb, who figured to be the man to replace Farrow, was dismissed from the team in February for a violation of team rules. Duke Catalon (above) and Mulbah Car figure to carry the load for Houston this season however neither has had a carry for Houston yet as Catalon sat out last season after transferring from Texas. 

Defense 

Certainly not as prolific as Houston’s offense but still certainly solid, Houston’s defense is also looking to replace a couple of key contributors from last season. Only 5 starters return from last season with three of their top four tacklers along with William Jackson gone from last year. The biggest of those losses are Elandon Roberts who had 142 tackles, as well as, William Jackson who had 5 interceptions last season.

Steven Taylor is back for the Cougars after a 10 sack campaign last year. Joining him in the linebacker group will likely be Tyus Bowser and Matthew Adams who finished with 7.5 sacks combined last season.

Robert Sellers

Ed Oliver (above) is another guy who figures to give Houston’s defense a boost right away with his athleticism. It remains to be seen how much he will contribute freshman year but is certainly a player an offense will have to be aware of. 

Bottom Line 

With a couple of Houston’s biggest contributors returning, Houston figures to back up last season with another very solid campaign. Whether they can match last seasons performance will hinge on how well the defense plays.

Houston’s defense had very much a bend but don’t break mentality last season, and a lot of teams were playing with the pressure of trying to keep up with Houston’s offense. SMU was able to keep up with Houston in the first half last season when they squared off, but a couple turnovers right before half time simply gave Houston the opening they needed to run away with the game.

Playing a turnover free game will be imperative for SMU when they match up next season and figures to be the biggest game of the season for SMU. 


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