20 Houston - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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20 Houston

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

I show video of defensive tackle Ed Oliver to my players and shame them for not playing like him. I'm kidding, because nobody has his talent. But I want them to see how he never gives up on a play. There could be a toss play on the other side and five guys have it covered, but he still attacks the ball like if he doesn't make the play, no one else is going to.... You have to double-team Oliver, and that leaves everyone up front free to make plays. Outside LB Leroy Godfrey was really good last year even though he wasn't a full-time starter [8½ tackles for loss, second on the team to Oliver's 16½]. The D-line, led by JERARD CARTER, could be dominant with the addition of TCU transfer Isaiah Chambers.... D'Eriq King is not the best passer in the world, but he's a phenomenal athlete. Now that the Cougars are running the old Baylor offense, there's plenty of room for King to run, but he'll also get a lot of one-on-ones in the passing game. They'll want it to be a vertical attack, but they lost two reliable receivers, so someone like Terry Mark is going to have to emerge as a playmaker.... RB Terence Williams is a transfer from Baylor, so he should know that offense really well.

BY THE NUMBERS

4

Losses by six points or fewer for the Cougars last season.

28.3

Points scored per game by Houston in 2017, its lowest mark since '05.

5-YEAR TREND

WINS

Since rising to No. 6 in 2016, Houston has gone 11--9. It'll reverse that downturn with a revamped offense and Ed Oliver anchoring the D.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

15

12

9

6

3

8-5

13-1 (AAC CHAMPS)

9-4

7-5

10-2

YEAR

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018*

*SI PROJECTION

X-FACTOR

D'ERIQ KING bounced between receiver and quarterback until last season, when he took over for QB Kyle Postma at South Florida and led Houston to a win. In his four starts as a sophomore King completed 65.8% of his passes and averaged 9.4 yards per attempt while rushing for eight TDs. He looked like a faster version of Greg Ward Jr., the former Cougars QB whom King revered as a teen at Manvel (Texas) High. King spent the offseason learning new coordinator Kendal Briles's scheme, which doesn't require that the QB be a great runner ... but if he is it's tough to stop. The last QB as athletic as King to lead an offense—Baylor's Robert Griffin III—won the Heisman.

2018 SCHEDULE

SEPT. 1

@ RICE

SEPT. 8

ARIZONA (19) [BIGGEST GAME][SI RANKINGS]

SEPT. 15

@ TEXAS TECH

SEPT. 22

TEXAS SOUTHERN

OCT. 4

TULSA

OCT. 13

@ EAST CAROLINA

OCT. 20

@ NAVY

OCT. 27

SOUTHERN FLORIDA

NOV. 3

@ SMU

NOV. 10

TEMPLE

THURS., NOV. 15

TULANE

NOV. 24

@ MEMPHIS [KEY MATCHUP]

KEY MATCHUP

BIGGEST GAME

SI RANKINGS