Week 3 Preview: Washington State vs Houston
By: Tony Thomas
September 8, 2019
The Houston Cougars welcome into town #20 Washington State for a Friday night game at NRG Stadium. Houston (1-1) is coming off a 37-17 win over Prairie View, while Washington State is fresh off a 59-17 demolishing of Northern Colorado.
Washington State (2-0), coached by Mike Leach, has an offense ranked in the Top Ten in 3 offensive categories: passing offense (#2), scoring offense (#5), and total offense (#7). When rushing the ball, they average 6.4 yards per carry. The Cougars have gained over 1200 yards of total offense in 2 games.
Anthony Gordon leads the Washington State offense. Gordon threw for 464 yards and 4 TD’s against Northern Colorado. For the season, Gordon has passed for 884 yards and 9 TD’s and only 1 INT.
The Washington State defense is stingy, allowing only 12 points per game. They have recorded 3 sacks, 6-5 tackles for loss, 2 INT’s and forced 2 fumbles in 2 games.
The Houston Cougars are coached by Dana Holgersen. This season marks his second stint with Houston, having been the Offensive Coordinator for the Cougars in 2008-2009 under former head coach Kevin Sumlin. Holgersen was also the head coach at West Virginia from 2012-2018.
This game marks a reunion between Holgersen and Leach. Holgersen is part of the Leach coaching tree, having coached under Leach as the OC at Texas Tech in 2007 when Leach was the head coach of the Red Raiders.
Under Holgersen’s tenure as OC, the Red Raiders led the nation in passing yards per game (470 yards/game) and receiving yards per game. Texas Tech was #2 in total offense with 529 yards per game, and they were ranked #7 in scoring at 40 points/game.
So far this season, Houston is a complete 180-degree version of the 2018 team. This year they are averaging 34 points per game (#5 at 43 points per game in 2018), #117 in passing offense with 155 yards per game (#16 at 295 yards per game in 2018), and #75 in total offense with 394 yards per game (#7 at 512 yards per game in 2018).
QB D’Eriq King, an ESPN Top 50 player in the preseason, accounted for 50 touchdowns in 2018. He has thrown for 311 yards and 3 TD’s and 1 interception in 2 games this season and also has rushed for 102 yards and 3 TD’s. Houston has rushed for 477 yards and 5 TD’s, averaging 238 yards per game.
The Houston defense has underachieved so far this season. The Cougars rank near the bottom of FBS schools in rushing defense, allowing 224 yards per game. They allow 33 points per game and are allowing 290 passing yards per game.
Houston will have to pull out all the stops to slow down the Washington State offense, and they will have to transform their offense back into the 2018 version if Houston is to come away with a victory.
My pick: Washington State
Thanks for reading.