For the Houston Cougars, there is nowhere to go but down, sadly. 13-1, 8-0 in conference, a destruction of Penn State in their bowl game (destroying Pedophilia State mere weeks after the Jerry Sandusky scandal first came to light, no doubt gave UH some “America’s Team” type feel last winter), just a slip up versus Southern Miss in the C-USA title game kept them from BCS glory.
Quarterback Case Keenum set the NCAA passing record and left school as the most decorated signal caller (at least statistically) in college football history. But he’s gone now, as are all the main receivers and the entire coaching staff. Enter a rebuilding year.
2011 was: almost perfect, quite possibly the greatest year in school history; producing one of the most exciting to watch offenses of all time. It also helped Coach Kevin Sumlin upgrade his stock enough to leave Houston for Texas A&M, using Illinois for leverage to get that job along the way.
2012 will go smoothly if: The defense handles the transition to a 4-3, from a base 3-4 under new coordinator Jamie Bryant. Even more important will be how new starting qb David Piland steps in for Keenum and runs the offense. He did a good job filling in for an injured Keenum for 8 games in 2010. The air raid offense will ironically center around a RB, as Charles Sims, a receiving and rushing threat is now the best player on the team.
2012 will be rough if: Even though they’re breaking in a ton of new starters on offense, I still think they’ll score. It’s the defense I’m not too keen on, even though it returns 8 starters. Special teams should be solid too. However, everything went UH’s way last year, and it’s difficult to expect a repeat of that under a new quarterback and coaching staff.
BMOCs: Piland, Sims, CB D.J. Hayden, WR Dewayne Peace and Deontay Greenberry, who shocked Notre Dame on signing day by backing out of his verbal commitment, LB Derrick Mathews, PK Matt Hogan holds the record for consecutive PATs made in a season.
All-name team: Among the strongest in the nation at this area. You’ve got plenty in the OL unit alone with RT Rowdy Harper (“ll my rowdy friends are coming over tonight!”) backup LG Emeka Okafor (multi-talented, UConn Huskies, Charlotte Bobcats and Houston Cougars football) and LT Jacolby Ashworth, who given his name must also hang out with Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan and Nick Carraway on he East Egg. There’s also WRs Peace and Greenberry. And on the defensive side of the ball is tackle Radermon Scypion, who sounds like a guest rapper on a Shabba Ranks or Shaggy single.
Bottom Line: There are too many question marks on both sides of the ball for this team to come even remotely close to duplicate last year’s success. They’ll probably finish in the 5-7 to 7-5 range as a weak Conference USA helps them out quite a bit in padding their record.
Rankings: Athlon- 70 Lindy’s- 67
All the 77s
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too