HOUSTON - It is the start of a new era for the Houston Cougars as they enter their first season in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars return 9 starters on offense, 4 of them on the offensive line.
They have a new offensive coordinator, but schemes aside, the one thing that has to improve the most is quarterback play. David Piland was very prone to making poor decisions last season. That was a point of emphasis during the off-season and he improved enough to that Tony Levine named him the starter, for now.
Freshman John O’Korn is expected to get some playing time in the opener against Southern as well.
The Cougars lost star running back Charles Sims, who left the program for West Virginia. That huge void will have to be filled by a group of backs, led by sophomore Kenneth Farrow.
Wide receiver Deontay Greenberry has been named to several pre-season watch lists and the offensive line should provide enough cover.
The defense is a different story for the Cougars. They lose 7 starters and with the exception of a couple of players, that unit from 2012 wasn’t very good. They gave up 36 points per game and allowed 483 yards per contest.
That’s just not going to get it done.
So, in comes former Houston Texans assistant David Gibbs to be the new defensive coordinator and he has some work to do. They have to replace corner back DJ Hayden and linebacker Phillip Stewart.
Linebackers Derrick Matthews and LSU transfer Trevon Randle will also play a big a part in turning around the defense.
If they can improve just a little, then a bowl is definitely possible, but they have to avoid slow starts and cut down on the turnovers.