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Houston’s AAC Chances Will Come Down To Defensive Improvement

Posted by Blake Frazier on 6/26/2013 7:48:10 PM

The Houston Cougars owned one of the most dangerous offenses in college football a year ago. The fact that they finished the year just 5-7 is testament to how rough of an online sports betting season it was for the defense. The Houston offense is expected to be just as good as it was a year ago, when it averaged 32.4 points and 479.6 yards per game. The real question mark is behind the defense, which will need to be at least marginally better to give the Cougars a chance in the American Athletic Conference. Head coach Tony Levine has a new coordinator on each side of the ball, and it will be interesting to see how things all come together for this program.

OFFENSE

The majority of Houston’s offensive starters will be back in 2013, including perhaps most importantly junior quarterback David Piland, who threw for 2,944 yards last season. Piland must improve his accuracy after completing just 57.1-percent of his passes, and also must cut down on the 12 interceptions he threw in 2012. Piland will have had a full year under his belt with his wide receivers, including top targets senior Dewayne Peace and sophomore Deontay Greenberry. He will also benefit from the addition of Markeith Ambles, a former top recruit for USC that averaged 17.2 yards per catch at Arizona Western College. It will be interesting to see if new offensive coordinator Doug Meachem changes much with an offense that averaged 49.3 pass attempts per game a year ago, which was the third-most in the nation. The ground game was good when it was called upon a year ago, but could be even better with more balance as senior running back Charles Sims returns.

DEFENSE

A stronger rushing presence would also help a defense that allowed an average of 483 yards per sports betting contest a year ago, which led to about 36 points allowed per game. New coordinator David Gibbs will look to keep things much simpler in order to create more read and react situations, with the heart of the defense being linebacker Derrick Matthews. Matthews will move from the weak side to the middle for his junior year, and that could lead to even bigger totals after registering 126 tackles last season. The Cougards don’t have a lot of speed along their four-man front, but they should get some pressure with blitz packages and should be stout against the run. Sophmore safety Trevon Stewart tied Matthews for the team-lead in tackles with 26 a year ago, and the return of senior cornerbacks Thomas Bates and Zach McMillian means this group should only get better.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior punter Richie Leone averaged 45.5 yards per punt and sent 25 kickoffs in to the end zone last online sportsbook season, and that could lead to him getting a look at kicker in place of the departed Matt Hogan. The Cougars have several options in the return game, but need to see better production after a couple of down years.

2013 OUTLOOK

This Houston roster absolutely stacked with talent, with speed and skill all over the board. However, the defense will need to take a major step forward in order to make the offensive production account for anything, and it will be on Gibbs to handle that responsibility. The Cougars’ defense couldn’t possibly be much worse than it was last season, and if they do show improvement then this program should be able to put together a record better than .500.

2013 PREDICTED FINISH: 7-5; 6th in the AAC

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