South Florida, Houston battle to end losing streaks
When South Florida opposes Houston on Saturday, one thing is guaranteed: One team will snap a losing streak.
The host Cougars (2-3, 2-2 American Athletic Conference) enter on a two-game losing streak following losses to two of the top teams in the league, UCF and Cincinnati.
After having its season delayed nearly a month due to postponements caused by COVID-19 cases, Houston hopes it is finally getting into a midseason rhythm that will produce more consistent results.
“2020 is on a whole another level,” Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “But you can’t use that as an excuse. I mentioned this to the team that 2020 has made people soft. Gave them excuses not to do specific things. It can’t happen in football. You can’t make excuses in football or else you get beat.”
Houston has been a capable team on offense, averaging 28.6 points per game so far this season. Junior quarterback Clayton Tune has completed 61.3 percent of his passes (106 of 173) for 1,397 yards with eight touchdowns and five interceptions.
However, the Cougars are allowing 35.4 points a game.
“We’re still looking for consistency,” Holgorsen said, “but by no means is any of this stuff not fixable.”
The frustration of losing has lasted longer for South Florida (1-6, 0-5), which is on a six-game skid following a season-opening win over The Citadel.
In his first year as head coach of South Florida, Jeff Scott has preached laying a foundation and establishing a culture in the locker room.
“I’m seeing progress,” Scott said. “It’s obviously frustrating for coaches and players, because we want to see the progress on the scoreboard with the wins at the same time you are making progress in the locker room, but that’s not always the case.
“Right now, we are making a lot more progress off of the field in our locker room with our team than we maybe are on the scoreboard. I do believe that will come.”
The last game was encouraging for South Florida, which nearly upset Memphis on the road before losing 34-33.
As is the case with Houston, South Florida has struggled defensively, giving up 35 points a game.
The Bulls have also struggled to find consistency at quarterback with sophomore Jordan McCloud and graduate transfer Noah Johnson alternating snaps the entire season.
McCloud was named the starter before South Florida’s game against Temple in October, but Johnson might have won the job back with his performance against Memphis, when he went 20-for-29 for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Scott hopes his team can put together a complete performance against Houston.
“Big, fast, strong, explosive and dynamic,” Scott said of the Cougars. “I’m just impressed with the personnel we go up against every single week. I know they haven’t had the success they’ve wanted in a few of the games, but if you turn on the tape, their team speed is impressive. It really stands out.”
–Field Level Media