Houston Cougars Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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Houston Cougars Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Houston season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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Houston Cougars Preview
Head Coach: Dana Holgorsen, 4th year at Houston, 19-15
12th year overall, 80-56, 2021 Preview
2021 Record: Overall: 12-2, Conference: 8-0
Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Houston Top 10 Players | Houston Schedule

Houston Cougars Preview 2022

It took a while to get here, but it finally happened.

Yeah, it would’ve been nice – and right – if Houston was included in the Big 12 fun along with Oklahoma and Texas. And yeah, it’s going to be one more year before the program can finally get a seat at the Power Five table. In the meantime …

Maybe Houston can be this year’s Cincinnati.

Houston positioned itself for the Big 12. It paid to get a Big 12 head coach in Dana Holgorsen, it went along with the redshirt year of 2019 when the team went young after a rough start – proving that it was about the bigger picture on not simply going to a bowl game – and then came the breakthrough needed in 2021.

This year’s team is loaded with talent, the coaching staff appears to have everything in place, and the schedule works out nicely. So yeah, while everyone will be jacked about what’s coming, the right now might work out very, very well.

Houston Cougars Preview 2022: Offense

It wasn’t always smooth, and let’s be honest here – there was a LOT of production happening against a LOT of bad teams – but the offense did its job.

It only finished sixth in the American Athletic Conference, and the running game didn’t always work, but there weren’t a log of mistakes, the chains kept moving, the team was sixth in the nation in time of possession, and it’s all just getting started.

The offense has the quarterback in Clayton Tune. The 6-3, 215-pound senior threw 39 touchdowns with ten picks, was in total command at times, hit 68% of his passes, and and he ran well when needed.

Okay, so he needs to cut down on the interceptions, but he’s in his fifth season in the mix and should be ready to take his game up a few notches with an even better receiving corps.

Nathaniel Dell is the 90-catch, 12 touchdown star who busted out, but he’s not alone. Former Texas Tech Red Raider KeSean Carter should do a whole lot more in his second year with the Cougars. Cody Jackson was a big get from Oklahoma, and excellent recruit Mathew Golden should be a factor right out of the gate.

The running backs are about to be fantastic, too, even with a huge loss. Alton McCaskill ran for 961 yards and 16 scores, but he suffered a torn ACL this offseason. There are other options, though – former Texas Tech back Ta’Zhawn Henry was second on the team last year with 513 yards and seven scores for the Cougars, and USC transfer Brandon Campbell should fit right into the rotation.

The line wasn’t all that great at keeping defenses out of the backfield, but at least it returns experienced. Three starters are expected back around First Team All-AAC left tackle Patrick Paul, but the real star might be Tyler Johnson, a big-time get from Texas through the transfer portal.

Houston Cougars Preview 2022: Defense

Defensive coordinator Doug Belk has a little work to do, but he’s got a great group to work around from the nation’s sixth-best defense – and No. 1 in the ACC – that lead college football in third down stops, was amazing against the run, and lived in the backfield. It all starts with …

The pass rush loses interior star Logan Hall, but All-AAC end Derek Parish and senior D’Anthony Jones know how to get behind the line. It’ll take a rotation at tackle – there isn’t another Hall – but it’ll be more than fine.

The secondary should be among the best in the AAC. Gervarrius Owens was a First Team All-AAC performer – he’s all over the field and a big play veteran – along with rising star Hasaan Hypolite. The corners, though, lose Marcus Jones and Damarion Williams. Former transfers will help in a decent rotation.

The two in the 4-2-5 get back 230-pound man in the middle Donavan Mutin – he led the team with 77 stops – and Malik Robinson is ready for a bigger role.

Keys To The Season | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Houston Top 10 Players | Houston Schedule

Houston Cougars: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

Houston Cougars: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

Houston Cougars: Key To The 2022 Offense

The offensive line needs to be stronger.

There’s not much of an excuse to not be better for the ground game and stronger in pass protection. If Texas transfer Tyler Johnson really is the main man at right tackle to go along with Patrick Paul on the other side, the tackles might be the strongest in the AAC. The interior is full of veterans and will be strong, too.

Now the ground attack has to hit four yards per carry on a regular basis.

Houston ran for 77 yards and 2.2 yards per carry in the loss to Texas Tech, and it only averaged 1.8 yards per pop in the loss to Cincinnati.

It could get away with a few other bad running days along the way, but if this is going to be a truly special season, the consistency has to be there, and the line can’t allow 2.8 sacks and 7.2 tackles for loss per game again.

And on the flip side …

Houston Cougars: Key To The 2022 Defense

Don’t get gouged on the ground.

Yeah, Navy ran for 202 yards. It only averaged 3.7 yards per carry in the 28-20 Cougar win. Texas Tech only ran for 145 yards, but it averaged over five yards per carry with three scores – and won.

Cincinnati ran for a UH season-most-allowed 210 rushing yards and 7.5 yards per carry – and won.

Houston allowed fewer than 4.4 yards per carry in all 12 wins, and over that in the two losses. The program is 1-11 in its last 12 games when giving up more than 4.4 yards per pop.

Houston Cougars: Key Player To The 2022 Season

CB Art Green, Sr. 
Go ahead and throw Alex Hogan in there, too.

Both Green and Hogan will be fine at corner, but they’re replacing two big-time producers. Damarion Williams was second on the team in tackles, and new New England Patriot Marcus Jones was a difference-maker in several phases.

The safeties are set and the pass rush will be great. Now the corners have to come up big. Green came up with just 18 tackles with a pick and two broken up passes last year. He’ll be tested.

Houston Cougars: Key Transfer

OT Tyler Johnson, Jr.
It just never worked out at Texas.

The 6-6, 325-pounder was a huge recruit for the Longhorns, but he didn’t see a whole lot of time, and the coaching staff went even bigger on the talent with the latest recruiting class. Johnson, though, has the size and the upside. Now it’s his job to sink or swim on the right side of the Cougar line.

Houston Key Game To The 2022 Season

at Texas Tech, Sept. 10
Let’s just put it out there – this is it.

There’s no Cincinnati or UCF on the slate – those two are the only real challengers to the the Cougars this season. If there’s a loss to anyone in AAC play – like at Memphis or SMU – it’ll be an upset.

Houston started out last season with a loss to Texas Tech and then ripped off 11 straight wins before losing to Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Win this time around against the one team on the slate that’s a real problem, and everything opens up in a big, big way.

Houston Cougars: 2021 Fun Stats

– 1st Quarter Scoring: Houston 147 – Opponents 52
– Fumbles: Opponents 22 (lost 8) – Houston 13 (lost 2)
– Time of Possession: Houston 33:26 – Opponents 26:21

O, D Breakdown | Season Prediction, What Will Happen
Houston Top 10 Players | Houston Schedule

Houston Cougars Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

Houston Cougars Season Prediction, What Will Happen

Is this going to be one of those teams that everyone loves before the season starts – (cough) 2021 Indiana or (wheeze) Iowa State (cough) – and then struggles to play up to the caught-magic-in-a-bottle success of before?

Nah, but it has to avoid that strange clunker of a loss that almost always tripped up the better Cougar teams over the years – except for last season.

Houston has the talent. There’s a great base helped by a whole lot of transfers who now want to be part of the fun, but there isn’t 2021 Cincinnati NFL talent.

What there is, though, is a 2021 Cincinnati light and breezy schedule, only without that one massive Notre Dame-like game to overcome.

Set The Houston Cougars Regular Season Win Total At … 10

Really, who did Houston beat last year? Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl?

It was a losing year for the Tigers – who were still getting their breath back after totally choking away the Alabama game – and it still took too much drama to pull out the 17-13 win.

Really? Beating SMU was a thing? Memphis? East Carolina? Those three were all home games, by the way.

Give the Cougars respect for the Auburn win, but they lost the opener to Texas Tech by 17 and failed to hold up against Cincinnati when the American Athletic Conference Championship was on the line.

Okay, so this Houston team would maybe catch a beating in the SEC West or Big Ten East this year – sound familiar, 2021 Bearcat fans? –  but it’s not in those divisions.

It’s going to be favored in every game but the road trip to Texas Tech, and even that might be debatable.

Maybe going to Memphis will be rough, and maybe SMU finds an extra gear at home, and going to East Carolina will be scary, but come on.

Houston, if it’s time to think big-time the year before going to the Big 12, beat Texas Tech, beat Kansas, and roll through a slate without Cincinnati or UCF.

With this team and this slate, another double-digit win regular season is a must. And with this team and this slate, yeah, go ahead and say it …

Dream of 13-0 and put the heat on the College Football Playoff committee.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
Houston Top 10 Players | Houston Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams

Story originally appeared on College Football News