Returning Starters – Offense: 6 Defense: 7
Preview: Houston started to figure things out during the second half of last season as they went on to go 8-5 overall with a 35-34 bowl win coming against Pittsburgh. Former promising young QB O’Korn decided to transfer to Michigan, but O’Korn lost his starting job fairly early on for Houston in 2014. The Cougars bring in new head coach Tom Herman who was successful in his previous stop as OC of Ohio State. This team returns the talent needed to compete for the conference crown, but it’ll be a tough battle this season in the AAC.
The QB position is still open with Ward and Schulz battling it out and this position will look to work itself out in the coming months. It’s a surprise that Greg Ward Jr. hasn’t already earned the spot given his versatility as a dual threat along with the fact that Ward went 6-2 as a starter in 2015 including a bowl win. Whoever wins the job will be put behind a relatively weak O-line so athleticism from the QB spot is a must. RB is a position of strength with returning players Farrow and Jackson leading the way. The WR position is young and inexperienced and the team is looking for more production out of Ayers and Dunbar along with the immediate help from Oregon transfer Allen.
The defense brings in DC Todd Orlando who’ll make the switch over to the 3-4 defense to bring in varying pressure from the front seven. The strength of the defense is the secondary which brings back all 4 starters including William Jackson who’s an NFL caliber talent. Only one guy returns on the D-line and this unit will be headlined by Singleton and Thurman. LB will be led by Taylor who looks to be next great player on Houston’s defense. Taylor will be joined by Bowser who’ll be a hybrid DE and LB.
Prediction: Reaching a bowl game has to be the goal for this team despite bringing in a new coaching staff including implementing new terminology and schemes. The team returns enough talent to be a threat in the AAC, but the Cougars are likely just short of competing given their lack of quality depth.
Projected Record: 8-4 (6-2)