The 4-2 BYU Cougars head to Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas this Saturday afternoon to take on the undefeated Houston Cougars in what is the first ever meeting between the two schools.
The Houston Cougars, of the American Athletic Conference are 5-0 entering the contest with wins over Southern, Temple, Rice, UTSA and Memphis.
The Cougars are coached by Tony Levine who is in his second season at the Helm after replacing Kevin Sumlin. Levine had been on the staff at Houston for four seasons before being promoted to the head coaching job. Here is what Coach Levine had to say about BYU in his weekly football press conference, "Moving on to the next one with BYU. They are a very, very talented football program. When you look at this team, the first thing that stands out is how physical they are in their play and in their presence. They are big across the board, big at skill positions, at receivers, running backs, defensive backs, they are extremely physical. It will be a great challenge for us. They've got tremendous athletes, they've got great players, certainly their coaching staff we have a lot of respect for, they've been there a long time and they do a great job with that program. We will continue to focus first and foremost on what we've been doing to get to this point and what we have to do, we feel like, to be successful Saturday. We look forward to getting out there this afternoon and installing our game plan for this evening's practice."
Under first year offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, the Houston spread offense is averaging 476.6 yards and just less than 40 points a game so far this year. To this point in the year the Cougars have played two quarterbacks. Junior returning starter David Piland started the first two games before concussions ended his career.
Freshman John O'Korn has started the last three. O'Korn has put up the better numbers of the two. He has completed 59.3 percent of his passes for 1,131 yards and 11 touchdowns with only one interception.
The favorite target of the Houston quarterbacks is sophomore wide receiver Deontay Greenberry. Greenberry leads the team with 39 receptions for 606 yards and three touchdowns. Included in that, were three straight games where Greenberry had at least 145 yards receiving.
Greenberry isn't the only weapon the Cougars have in the passing game however. The have solid options in running back Ryan Jackson as well as wide receivers Xavier Maxwell and Daniel Spencer.
Along with his skills in the running game, Jackson has caught 11 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Xavier Maxwell has chipping in with 16 grabs for 177 yards and two scores while Daniel Spencer has caught 18 balls for 240 yards and a team leading four touchdown receptions.
Here are some of Spencer's thoughts from the Houston weekly football press conference on facing BYU. "They're a great defense and a great team from the offensive side. We still have to go out there and prepare the same way as if we're playing any other team this week."
The running game has also been very effective this season thanks to the skills of a talented offensive line As well as sophomore running backs Ryan Jackson and Kenneth Farrow. The Cougar O-line returned four starters from a season ago and has only allowed five sacks all season.
Although Jackson only ran for seven yards on seven carries in their last game, he leads the team in rushing. Jackson has registered 391 yards and four touchdowns on 76 carries.
Farrow is second on the team with 44 carries for 208 yards and two scores while appearing in only three games this season due to injury.
The defense has been impressive as well, allowing less than 20 points a game so far this season while already tallying 23 tackles for loss, seven sacks and eight interceptions.
The defensive line has been able to get plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year. The true most impressive players of that group have been Tyus Bowser and Trevor Harris. Bowser has already accounted for 3.5 TFL's, three sacks and an interception, while Harris has 27 tackles, 4.5 TFL's, two sacks and a forced fumble.
The line backing core has been very impressive led by Derrick Mathews and Efrem Oliphant. In the five games this year, they have combined for 91 tackles, five TFL's, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a sack.