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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Sims’

ElViento: Howdy everybody. For reasons that I can’t go into now, but which I will fully explain in the next week or two, I’m not going to be going into much depth on stuff for the time being. I ask for a little patience, and promise that very soon, my coverage of the Coogs will actually be better than ever. I’m very excited, and you should be, too. Until such time as I can fully discuss everything to the extent that I want, I will continue to at least mention the top stories of the day, and allow for discussion. Along those lines…

Charles Sims was ruled ineligible for the 2010 football season on Tuesday. Obviously, this isn’t a good thing, but there is talent at the running back position. I think it’s worse than the Castile, Dugat, Dean and Tatum losses, but still well short of catostrophic.

Also, Cougar play-by-play guy Tom Franklin announced on Tuesday via CoogFans.com that he is being retained by ISP to be the Voice of the Cougars in 2010. I’m a huge fan of TF, and I’m glad to hear that ISP listened to the fans, when they spoke up and said they wanted Tom back.

That’s all for me for now. Looking forward to sharing the good news with everybody soon.

Go Coogs!

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ElViento: I have mixed reactions about the SMU game from Saturday, but I choose to be encouraged by the way the Cougars performed.

On one hand, it was Houston’s least-impressive offensive performance in a while. They failed to hit a lot of the now-expected benchmarks. The Cougars did not reach 500 yards of total offense for the first time this year, and Case Keenum failed to throw for 300 yards for the first time in a regular season game under Kevin Sumlin.

On the other hand, SMU’s defense is improved, and you have to give them some credit. Houston’s 38 points were just one shy of the highest total allowed by SMU in a game this year. And we have been somewhat spoiled by the Sumlin-Dana Holgorsen era. We should probably be more in awe that the 300-500 plateau is an expectation than we should be upset that the Cougars missed it once.

The Cougars earned a 3-0 advantage in turnovers against an SMU team in the top 25 in the country in turnover margin, and jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead. After Tyron Carrier’s 92-yard kick return for a TD to open the second half, the game was over. The Cougars ended up running the ball a bunch from there on out, and just kind of cruised to a 38-15 victory. It was only the second decisive loss suffered by the Mustangs on the year. The first was a 39-14 loss at the hands of TCU, but the Horned Frogs didn’t truly put that one away until the fourth quarter.

What this game truly reminded me of was the Coogs’ Armed Forces Bowl victory over Air Force last year. The Cougar offense played less than its best ball, but didn’t make any big mistakes. The passing game didn’t click the way it usually does, with much credit given to the opposing defense, but the run game stepped up big. So did the defense, stopping the opposition from doing what it wanted to. (In this case, throwing the ball, as opposed to dominating with the option run.)

At the end of the day, it may have not been the most entertaining Cougar victory you’ll see this year, but it was a 23-point win over an upset-capable opponent. And you have to be happy about those.

Some other game notes:

  • SMU’s players were paying a lot of attention to the UH student section and Coog Crew before the game. The talented wide receiver duo of Aldrick Robinson and Emmanuel Sanders seemed particularly intent on talking smack with Coog Crew prior to kickoff. Predictably, this ended early, and the students were more than happy to let both know about their drops over the course of the game. Neither receiver eclipsed 50 yards on the game, and Sanders’ total of 47 yards receiving was a season-low.
  • It’s always a frightening proposition to call out opposing players on faking injuries, given the possibility that the injury is legit. But this is the second year in a row that SMU has unquestionably faked some injuries to slow down the Cougar momentum. I’m so tired of seeing Mustang players fall down, grab a hamstring, and be back in the game at full speed two plays later. I would like to see the NCAA crack down on this before college football turns into soccer. If a player has to stop the game for an injury, he should have to sit out at least five or six plays.
  • That said, best wishes to Bo Levi Mitchell, who obviously wasn’t faking his injury.
  • Major props to the Houston defense, which racked up five sacks, and held SMU to an incredible 0-12 on combined third- and fourth-down conversions. The Coogs were 9-16 on converting third down attempts. Along with the turnovers, that’s the difference in the game, right there.
  • Would you believe both Houston and SMU had more runs than pass attempts on Saturday? ‘Tis true.
  • A big salute to Charles Sims. The true freshman running back has proven to be a huge asset catching passes out of the backfield thus far this year, but had a breakout game actually taking handoffs on Saturday. His 105 yards rushing were nearly double his previous high on the year. And all of this came on the heels of a Tulane game in which Sims got just two touches. I’m very impressed the youngster kept his head in the game, and turned in such an impressive performance.
  • Keenum didn’t break 300 yards, but he did throw a TD pass for the 23rd straight game. This puts him just 12 games shy of the all-time Division 1-A record, held by Ty Detmer of BYU. The all-time NCAA record, held by Jimmy Terwilliger of D-II East Stroudsberg, is 39. I’m going to try and put up something about other NCAA records within Keenum’s reach sometime this week.
  • The Cougars are now bowl-eligible with six wins. If the Cougars receive a bowl berth this year (which seems like a shoo-in at this point), it will be the fifth-straight season Houston has competed in the post-season, a first in school history.
  • There is a four-way tie for first-place in Conference USA West, but UTEP remains the only school entirely in control of its own destiny, and their remaining schedule shapes up pretty nicely. I think you can pencil in the Tulane and Rice games as wins for the Miners, which leaves vs. UAB (this weekend), @ SMU (11/14) and vs. Marshall (11/28) as the potential roadblocks. While wins over Houston and Tulane prove that UTEP is a talented team, losses to Buffalo and Memphis show that the Miners are capable of slip-ups. Knock on wood, but I see them losing at least one more game.

Next up for the Cougars, Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles have outscored C-USA weak sisters Memphis and Tulane by a combined score of 79-22 the past two weeks, despite having lost starting QB Austin Davis for the season due to injury. More on the Golden Eagles, and (hopefully, finally, God-willing) some men’s hoops coverage coming this week.

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A Scott & Holman editorial

Kevin Sumlin, I have some bad news. You know how nobody really wants to schedule Houston in football? How Cougar fans always think everybody’s too scared to play us?

Yeah, that probably just got worse.

To put Houston’s 45-35 victory over #5 Oklahoma State into perspective, let’s appreciate some of the things that were not true about this game:

-Oklahoma State was not overrated. The Cowboys scored a dominating victory over Georgia in their season-opener, following up a fantastic season last year. (The Cowboys’ only regular season losses a year ago came against top 3 teams.) OSU features arguably the best QB-RB-WR combo in the nation in Zac RobinsonKendall HunterDez Bryant. Oklahoma State is a damn good team, make no mistake.

-This was not a miracle upset. The Cougars outgained OSU 512-434, and won despite their own mistakes, not because of Oklahoma State’s. Yes, incredibly, Houston played far from perfect football. Despite a great game, Case Keenum missed some open receivers, Charles Sims had an early fumble, and the Cougar kicking was an adventure all day. Chase Turner failed to pin the Pokes deep twice, with the plays resulting in touchbacks instead. Bryant returned another punt for a touchdown. Cougar kickoffs were frightening. Although the Coogs took advantage of a kickoff error by OSU late in the second quarter, they were so afraid of kicking it deep that their short kicks generally resulted in short fields for OSU anyway. Despite not playing its best game, UH thoroughly dominated the Cowboys for three quarters. (Take away a near-disastrous third quarter, and Houston outscored their opponent 45-14.) Not only did Houston look like the more talented team, they looked like the more disciplined team, with OSU picking up five more penalties for 41 more yards.

The last sentence is perhaps the most encouraging sign of the Sumlin era at UH. Since Art Briles did Houston a favor and left for Baylor, penalties are down, and tackling is far, far crisper. (Maybe this is a symptom of actually allowing players to hit each other in practice? Maybe?)

After such an impressive win, it’s hard not to be optimistic to the point of giddiness. Consider the following:

  • Houston outplayed the #5 team in the nation on the road, and remained injury-free at game’s end.
  • The Cougars are arguably still a year away from reaching their full potential. Keenum is just a junior, RB tandem Bryce Beall and Sims are a sophomore and freshman, respectively, and out of an immensely deep, talented receiving corps, the sole main contributor that graduates this year is Chaz Rodriguez. Most of the defense is underclassmen as well, with noticeable exceptions in Matt Nicholson, C.J. Cavness and Brandon Brinkley.
  • Part of what makes the running back duo of Beall and Sims so good is that they always seem to fall forward when hit. It was one of Beall’s most impressive characteristics last year, but Sims, who can only be described as “slippery”, showed the same trait on Saturday.
  • The offensive line proved its mettle on Saturday, as the run game regularly had holes to work with, and Keenum had adequate protection against a Big XII defensive line. Everybody knew it was a deep group, but the overall talent level was conclusively proven.
  • The secondary is good, too. After Bryant went off for 200+ yards in last year’s matchup, Jamal Robinson and company held him to just 85 yards on Saturday. Most of the big plays through the air for OSU came when the Cougar D-line left the secondary out to dry. The big test for the secondary is coming up in Texas Tech, but so far, so good.
  • Perhaps most importantly, the team was not scared by an impressive crowd of 50,875 for Oklahoma State, and they did not give up when things took a turn for the worse. After taking a 24-7 halftime lead, Houston surrendered a 21-0 third quarter to an invigorated Cowboy squad. But the Cougars responded to every gut check, and emerged victorious.
  • Finally, the concept of the moral victory has been eliminated once and for all. Oklahoma State is the most talented team on the Cougars’ schedule, and Houston beat them decisively on the road. I’m not saying Houston has to go undefeated, but they should expect to beat everybody else.

Even though the euphoria has yet to fade from the game, one can’t help but look to the future for Houston. What’s next?

  • I don’t mean this to take anything away from the victory, but how OSU fares the rest of the year will determine a lot about how much this win means. For Houston to move up in the top 25, they need the Pokes to stay there, too.
  • Houston had Oklahoma State circled on the calendar. After the win, everybody else on the schedule for the rest of the year will have us circled. Houston needs to relish that role. We cannot afford to take any games off. We are going to get everybody’s A-game, and we need to be ready every week.
  • Hopefully Jim Jeffcoat went home tonight and told his son to watch SportsCenter (which UH led off). In all seriousness, it’s wins like this that will help convince the top-tier Houston-area kids to consider staying home and signing with the Coogs.

Finally, on behalf of everyone we traveled with, we want to extend a huge thank you from the Cougar faithful to the Cowboy fans. Walking around before the game in the OSU tailgate area, we heard nothing but kind words. Lots of “good luck”s and more than one offer for free food and drink. After the game, an obviously tremendously disappointing loss for the Cowboys, the Oklahoma State fans seemed even more bound and determined to make us feel welcome in Stillwater. We were constantly stopped on our way out of the stadium and congratulated by OSU fans. It was a tremendous display of class and sportsmanship, and one that made our trip even more worthwhile. I know many of us have had bad experiences this week with message board OSU fans, but believe us when we say that they are a small minority who represent only a minor black eye on a tremendous fan base.

It was a historic win, Cougars. Enjoy it.

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The Scott & Holman writers weigh in on the Cougars’ season-opening 55-7 win over Northwestern State:

ElViento:

  • Yes, it’s a win over a 1-AA school, but don’t take that entirely for granted. Ask Virginia, Duke or Temple (all of whom lost) how much you can simply bank on wins over opponents from lower divisions. Heck, ask Marshall, East Carolina or Iowa, all of whom barely snuck by.

charles simsCharles Sims

  • He’s a true freshman, and as such, he probably bound to make a few rookie mistakes this year, but good heavens is Charles Sims ever talented. When people started whispering that Sims was even pushing incumbent Bryce Beall for playing time at running back, they weren’t joking.
  • Chase Turner looked like an NFL-ready player. He had four punts on the day. Three ended up inside the 20-yard line, the other was a sparkling 52-yard boomer with no return.
  • The defensive line played well enough to beat Northwestern State, but all of the questions about that group were less than emphatically answered. The Houston D-line recorded just one sack, allowed 3.9 yards per carry, and generally looked it was playing on the same level of the Demon O-line.
  • The rest of the defense looked very good, however. The linebacking corps showed that depth might not be an issue after all, with big games off the bench by Phillip Steward and Kris Johnston. The secondary was the most impressive unit, completely smothering any attempt by NW State to throw down field. The Demons completed 22 passes for just 106 yards, and had just two completions go for more than 10 yards.
  • The Houston offense, well, it had 28 points on the board in the first quarter before Northwestern State recorded it’s first first down. After that, the Cougars mixed things up, ran deep enough to see fourteen different players catch a pass, took Case Keenum out early in the third quarter, and probably could have scored 100 if they had the mind to.
  • For as much sloppy football as we’ve seen around the country this year, Houston’s execution – while not perfect – was admirable. The Cougars fumbled the ball just once, did not throw any interceptions, and committed just one penalty. The defense had a few missed arm tackles, but the hitting was solid for the most part.
  • It was good to see highly-touted freshman wide receiver A.J. Dugat get out on the field, after the last-second okay from the NCAA clearinghouse. Dugat had some first-game jitters and dropped a couple of passes, but also broke off an electric 34-yard catch-and-run, showing everybody why his future is so bright.
  • Finally, it was good to see Patrick Edwards back on the field. If he’s anything less than 100%, it wasn’t obvious.

Bobb-O:

  • I was fairly impressed with the Cougar secondary. They may not have had any INTs but it seemed the coverage was there all night. The secondary only gave up 106 yards. I understand its a D-1AA team but no matter the opponent it is solid.
  • As ElViento said AJ Dugat had a few drops but his first college reception was a work of art.
  • Simply put Charles Sims= AMAZING
  • It seemed all night that all the Cougars were doing all night was playing catch. The way the Cougars played was fantastic. Everything they did seemed so simple. Quick Scores, 3 and outs,and Solid special teams all lead to an easy Cougar win.
  • O Fortuna….. need I say more.
  • My final observation is attendance. The Students brought numbers. It was amazing to look behind my front row seat and see the sea of red. Also the “alumni” side of the stadium was packed as well. Way to go Cougar fans. Spread the Red!

SarCoog

  • I’m pretty sure it’s been said before, but super frosh RB Charles Sims looked damn near impossible when the Coogs used him for passes out of the backfield. Sims ended up with 6 receptions for 128 yards and one those went for a TD. On a similar note, fellow freshman WR A.J. Dugat got plenty of reps and had an impressive first catch… but dropped at least 3 catchable balls.
  • Case Keenum was essentially just practicing out there last night and still made the Northwestern State defense look absolutely silly. Keenum ran well when the situation called for it, but really showed improved accuracy and pocket presence last night. Now the real test will be whether he can do this against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech… Methinks Case has it in him.

patrick edwardsPatrick Edwards

  • If the performances in practice and scrimmages didn’t convince you, receiver Patrick Edwards is 100% better from the horrific injury last year. He didn’t look tenative and afraid out there under the bright lights of Robertson Stadium… which is worth more to me than a meaningless victory over a directional Louisiana school.
  • I can’t make too many statements on the defense, considering they were facing a 1-AA offense in its first year with a new coordinator. But I will say the Cougar defensive backs generally impressed me last night. New starting CB Jamal Robinson went step for step with an NWSU receiver, broke up the pass and didn’t interfere as well. Nick Saenz also looked superb in run support from his strong safety position.
  • The offensive line needs some work and more time to jel out there. I didn’t expect things to be perfect with guys like redshirt frosh Jacolby Ashworth and JC transfer Jarve Dean getting their first ever collegiate snaps at the tackle positions and they didn’t embarrass themselves. These guys better grow up quick before the trip to Stillwater next weekend though.
  • I like the linebacking corps of Matt Nicholson, C.J. Cavness and Marcus McGraw and they could anchor a (hopefully) improved defense… but the front seven and defense generally had way too hard of a time defending the screen passes that NW State kept throwing at them. Things will be 1000 times harder next week in Stillwater… as I’ve said earlier.
  • Oh and Larry Gatlin absolutely sucked at both the National Anthem and in the halftime show. I’ve never seen a student crowd more disinterested in a halftime show. If UH wants Gatlin to come back I’ll start a collection to pay him not to perform.
  • Finally, this has nothing to do with a game but I’ll reiterate what Bobb-O said about the student crowd: it was a great crowd… especially for a game against a no-name I-AA opponent. The Texas Tech game should be unreal, although I hope the true fans aren’t overwhelmed by the “attend one game a year” students.

Okay those were our thoughts, what’d you see yeseterday Cougar fans?

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ElViento: The Cougar receiving corps is loaded this year. That much is certain. However, if one was inclined to look for a reason to be concerned about that position for the Cougars, one could consider the impact of the loss of Mark Hafner.

My lasting impression of Hafner is that he always seemed to come up with the first down catch in third down situations. Those clutch catches, it seemed to me, always kept key offensive drives moving. If the Cougars are missing anything this year from the receiving corps, maybe it’ll be that ability to make the clutch 3rd down catch for a first down.

Well, I decided to see just how much of that first down-earning production the Cougars are, in fact, losing. On the way, I took a look at some other interesting facts about how Cougars picked up first downs in 2008.

A huge thank you to SarCoog and Scott & Holman ally DeesNuts for help with the research on this.

(Two things to keep in mind concerning the following data: They do not include touchdowns, although those are technically first downs. Also, they do not include first downs thrown, only caught or carried. So Case Keenum, for example, gets credit for running for a first down, but not passing for one.)

  • The Cougars made 304 first downs in 2008, of which they lost 77 (25%) to graduation, injuries, and other attrition. They lost 29% of receiving first downs, and 22% of rushing first downs.
  • First down-making players lost: Hafner (41), Andre Kohn (29), Blake Joseph (5), Jackie Hinton, Jr. (2).
  • Top returning first down makers: Bryce Beall (63), Tyron Carrier (44), Patrick Edwards (25), Keenum (20), Chaz Rodriguez (16), L.J. Castile (12), Kierrie Johnson (10).
  • In 2008, the Cougars earned 61% of their first downs on passes, 33% on rushes, and 6% on penalties.
  • The Cougars got most first downs on second down plays (113), followed by first down plays (107), third down plays (77) and fourth down plays (7).
  • Hafner did catch the most passes for a first down, with 41, followed closely by Carrier with 38, and Edwards with 23.
  • So let’s get down to brass tacks. Our original idea was to check how much Hafner meant for earning first downs through the air on third down: Hafner caught 11 first down passes on third down, Kohn caught 3. In total, Houston picked up a first down through the air on third down 50 times, so 28% of that was lost. Since they lost 29% of their overall receiving first down production…the Hafner clutch first down catching on third down thing was probably just an illusion. Hafner was just a great receiver for us all-around, but one I think the Cougars can replace with newcomers like James Cleveland, A.J. Dugat, and general improvement from all the returners. (As well as, hopefully, an entire year of health for Edwards.)
  • The thing that surprised me the most about this whole process was the first down-making prowess of Kohn. Despite losing his starting job to Beall early in the year, Kohn was still responsible for the fourth-most team first downs, proof that the back-up halfback is very important, even in a spread offense like Houston’s. So don’t discount the possible impact true freshman Charles Sims could have on the offense this year.

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