Sep 18, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars cornerback Marcus Jones (8) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the Grambling State Tigers at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

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Houston looks to ride momentum into clash vs. Navy

Two American Athletic Conference programs that got off to vastly different starts to the season will kick off their conference slates when Houston hosts Navy on Saturday night.

After a season-opening loss to future Big 12 rival Texas Tech, Houston (2-1) demolished its next two opponents, Rice and Grambling, to carry momentum into AAC play. Picked fourth in last month’s AAC preseason poll, Houston still can present a challenge to No. 8 Cincinnati atop the conference.

It wasn’t all positive takeaways from the Cougars’ 45-0 blowout of Grambling on Saturday. Starting quarterback Clayton Tune left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. Coach Dana Holgorsen revealed the junior sustained the injury in the previous week and missed two days of practice because of it.

“I own that. It’s my responsibility to get those guys ready,” Holgorsen said Monday. “When the backup hasn’t taken hardly any snaps in games, you kinda lean towards doing what you gotta do to get your starter out there.”

Ike Ogbogu subbed in for Tune against Grambling and passed for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Tune’s availability against Navy will depend on how he progresses through practice this week.

Houston gets the conference’s first crack at Navy (0-2), owner of arguably the worst offense of the young college football season. No FBS team has averaged fewer points per game than Navy (5.0); its 233 yards per game also ranks fourth-worst in the nation.

It will be Navy’s first game since athletic director Chet Gladchuk fired longtime offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper — then re-hired him to serve as quarterbacks coach after Ken Niumatalolo asked him to reconsider. Niumatalolo will assume full-time play-calling duties; the 14th-year head coach revealed he called Navy’s plays as recently as Week 1 against Marshall.

Niumatalolo said Navy’s open date last week came at a good time, allowing the offense to return to fundamentals at practice.

“I was encouraged by just the leadership of this team,” Niumatalolo said. “Nobody’s quitting. … Our guys continue to keep working. That’s all you can do right now. There’s so much flips and changes in a season.

“With all that we have still to play for, it’s a long season. We’ve got to keep going, got to keep grinding.”

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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