Well Tech fans, Week 1 was fun, right? We got a glimpse of what the future of Red Raider football could look like under Joey McGuire and boy did it deliver.
But now it’s time to move on to some real competition.
The Houston Cougars are coming to town coming off of a 37-35 3 OT win over UTSA in San Antonio.
That score seems like it should be much more lopsided, but do not be mistaken, UTSA is a very good team and so is Houston.
Lets get to breaking down this Cougars squad.
The Cougs are led by Head Coach Dana Holgorsen, who is entering his 4th year with Houston. Last season the Cougars had a great 12-2 record, including an 8-0 conference slate.
Their 1 loss in the regular season? Texas Tech.
Now it is great that Tech managed to hand Houston their 1 regular season loss last season, but this is a much different Cougars squad. Quarterback Clayton Tune is much improved from his 4 INT game against the Red Raiders last season and was one of the best QBs in the American conference last season. He threw for 39 Touchdowns last season to only 10 picks, and also completed 68% of his passes.
On top of that, Tune was also a very effective runner when he needed to be. Going into his 5th season, Tune is looking to have his best season to date with Houston, and that started with a decent showing against UTSA, with some really impressive plays while improvising under pressure.
Every good QB needs his top target, right? In comes Nathaniel Dell. Dell caught 90 passes last season for over 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was downright one of the best receivers in the nation and looks to build off of a downright phenomenal year.
To close out the offensive side of the ball, let's talk about a couple of former Tech players, shall we?
We’ll start with former Tech receiver KeSean Carter. Carter only played in 9 games last season but was able to rack up 26 catches for 331 yards and a touchdown. While those numbers aren’t crazy, he’s still a very good receiver and a focal point of the Cougar offense. I expect him to get more targets this season, even after a shaky start against UTSA. Carter is a super quick receiver who can kill you if you give him space. Tech will look to avoid letting Carter loose in his return to Lubbock.
The other Tech transfer is none other than RB Ta’Zhawn Henry. Henry left the UTSA game early but is expected to be back for the game against Tech, and I’m sure he is very ready for his return to Lubbock. Henry took 111 carries last season and turned them into 513 yards and 7 touchdowns, while also hauling in 20 catches for 105 yards. He is a very versatile back that can really move if he gets to the second level. He averaged 4.6 yards a carry last season and is now in a starting role due to Alton McCaskill suffering a torn ACL in the offseason.
The Houston defense is really the biggest strength of this team, specifically the defensive line. While the Cougars did lose star Logan Hall, they retain All-AAC defensive end Derek Parish and senior lineman D’Anthony Jones.
They’ll rotate tackles throughout the game, but that pass rush is just as deadly as it was last season. It’ll be interesting to see how the offensive line holds up against the Cougs defensive front.
The Houston secondary is a very solid group, led by Gervarrius Owens who made First Team All-AAC last season, he’s a beast in that secondary and flies all over the field. He will make life very difficult for Tech’s receivers, especially on deep balls.
This Houston squad is ranked for a reason and will give Tech a really good early season challenge. This game is even more interesting because as early as next year, this will be a new conference rivalry with way bigger stakes. Houston definitely remembers what Tech did to them last year, and this game will not be easy by any means.