Though Houston will not be in the running for the College Football Playoffs after a 46-40 loss to Navy Oct. 8, coach Tom Herman said there’s still plenty to accomplish this season.
Houston plays Tulsa at 6 p.m. Oct. 15 on ESPN2.
For starters, the Cougars (5-1, 0-1) can break the record for most wins in a two-year period, which stands at 21. Right now they’re at 18. The seniors can set a new record for the most wins in a four-year period. The record is 36; right now they’re at 34.
“There are a lot of positive things to point to in terms of the state of the program,” Herman said.
The most important lesson the Cougars must understand, he added, is that they’re capable of beating Oklahoma and Florida State but “are also not talented enough, not deep enough, to go on the road and play a C game against a bowl opponent such as Navy or really anyone left on our schedule and come up with a win. I think our guys realize that,” he said.
Herman noted the players were very down before the Oct. 9 practice, so much so that he instructed the position coaches to spend the first 15 minutes talking about anything but football. Those meetings resulted in a very productive practice when they got to the practice field.
Tulsa (4-1, 1-0) is led by quarterback Dane Evans who has completed 95 passes for 1,135 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Running back D’Angelo Brewer has 135 rushes for 706 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Keevan Lucas has 36 carries for 508 yards and five touchdowns.
Since the Golden Hurricanes’ offense is spread to run, Herman said it’s difficult on the safeties to defend because they must be involved in stopping the run.
“But yet they have to cover all of this grass should they decide to pass, to get out there and help our corners and cover guys? Or are we going to leave them out there to help our cover guys and hope we can stop the run with the six guys inside?” he said. “You have to stop the run first. Everything we do revolves around stopping the run. Then, you adjust from there if they’re hurting you in the pass game. You commit in your game plan to stopping the run and go from there.”
And though they lost a game, Herman said Houston’s goals are still in front of it.
“Our goal was not to go undefeated, it was not to just beat Oklahoma, and our goal wasn’t to be ranked in the top 10 or five,” he said. “Our goal is to win our conference. That goal is still out there. Obviously, we are going to need some help from Navy.
“The first order of that business is to beat Tulsa,” he added. “Our guys know that it is still out there, and they’re going to hold out the confidence that it is until someone tells us that is not.”