Trask Talk: Houston is the Real Deal
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The Oklahoma Sooners open the year as favorites to win the Big 12 and were popular picks to find themselves in the new and thrilling four team College Football Playoff. They return star quarterback Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine is one of the best running backs in the nation. They had the 16th best recruiting class and brought in one five star recruit and ten more four star guys. The University of Houston is 25 spots lower and they reeled in two four star recruits to join the one five star recruit they also got. Houston beat the number three ranked Sooners 33-23 on Saturday.
The Houston Cougars have one of the most electric and exciting teams in the nation and will be slept on all year because they don’t play in a power five conference. They have a high powered offense backed by a strong and fast defensive unit. Don’t forget about special teams either because they came to play on Saturday against mighty Oklahoma.
Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. led the offense with a monster showing throwing for 321 yards, two touchdowns and a 83.1 QB rating. Ward also put together one of the most thrilling plays of the weekend as he scrambled and stiff armed a Sonner defender before throwing a dart to his receiver as he fell out of bounds. The scary thing is this isn’t even close to the Ward’s ceiling. He completed 57.5% of his passes on Saturday but completed a whopping 67.2% of his passes last year. His QBR last year was 78.1 which was only 7 points behind the number one overall pick in the NFL draft, Jared Goff. His 78.1 was good for 15th in the country and was 3.2 points higher than the reigning Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos’ first pick in the draft Paxton Lynch. Ward’s size will be what hurts him when it comes to NFL scouts, as he is 5’11 and 185 pounds, which is four inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than Deshaun Watson. Although he is undersized, Greg Ward Jr. will have a monster season and will lead the Cougars to at least a top ten finish this season.
Ward’s partner in crime in the backfield is sophomore running back Duke Catalon who ran for 88 yards against Oklahoma. He also added 29 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown to his stat line. The Houston native blends his speed with power and uses all 210 pounds of him to his advantage. Catalon will serve a major role this year as the Cougars look to really make a name for themselves.
The top receiver for Houston was junior Steven Dunbar. At 6’3”, Dunbar brings plenty of matchup problems to opposing defenses. Dunbar and Ward Jr. were like Mike and Ike on Saturday vs. the Sooners. Dunbar also found himself in the right places at the right times as five of his catches for 98 yards were on third downs. Dunbar will see a plethora of targets from Greg Ward Jr. and big numbers are in the near future for the junior.
On the defensive side of the ball, Houston shined. They limited the duo of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to only 71 yards combined and they also forced two turnovers. Baker Mayfield was faced with constant pressure and looked hurried. The Cougars special teams unit also provided possibly the play of the week. Brandon Williams caught a missed field goal as far back in the endzone and proceeded to show off his speed and athleticism on his way to a 109 yard touchdown. Williams burned multiple Sooners and hurdled his own man en route to the endzone.
As the year proceeds, Houston will continue to win games and be overlooked by various analysts because of their strength of schedule. They won’t be tested very much this season but they just faced a national championship favorite and they got an A+ on national television. Don’t let this very talented and explosive AAC team sneak up on you as a College Football Playoff favorite team.