No. 24 Navy matchup ‘pretty big challenge’ for Houston

Originally Posted on The Daily Cougar via UWIRE

The Cougars' defense was key in their 49-36 win over the Midshipmen in 2018 and again will be crucial against No. 24 Navy on Saturday at TDECU Stadium. | File photo

The Cougars’ defense was key in their 49-36 win over the Midshipmen in 2018 and again will be crucial against No. 24 Navy on Saturday at TDECU Stadium. | File photo

Houston will host No. 24 Navy at 6 p.m. Saturday at TDECU Stadium. It will be the Cougars’ sixth Top 25 matchup in 2019, tying the 1977 team for most ranked opponents faced in a season.

Last week, the Cougars’ rush-defense had their best statistical performance since 1998. Their -1 rushing yards allowed in a 24-14 win over Tulsa was its best performance in 21 years.

Despite showing defensive improvement, don’t expect another similar performance out of UH on Saturday.

A triple-option team, Navy boasts the FBS’ top-ranked rush offense, averaging 352.2 yards per game. Senior quarterback Malcolm Perry leads The American and is fifth nationally in rush yards with 1,354.

Perry leads all FBS quarterbacks and is fourth in the nation in rushing touchdowns (18). He has thrown for 920 yards on a 54.7 percent completion rate.

“They’re really good. They’re as good as a team that we’ve faced all year,” said coach Dana Holgorsen of the Midshipmen. “Obviously the triple-option offense stuff is hard. You can’t prepare against that in six days. It’s hard.”

Navy’s 8-2 record doesn’t come just through the ground game. Their defense may be the toughest that the Cougars will face all year. 

Under first-year defensive coordinator Brian Newberry, the Midshipmen possess the nation’s second-ranked scoring defense (22.5 points per game). They are first in The American and 24th nationally in yards per game, giving 323.9 yards per (216.6 passing, 107.3 rushing). 

Navy is ranked for a reason.

For the Cougars, it’s tough to find favorable matchups. Their suddenly stout defensive line could limit the triple-option, but that’s a task nobody – not even Notre Dame – has been able to accomplish in 2019. Houston allows 154.7 rushing yards per game, 66th in the nation. 

Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune will lead the Cougars. Now fully healthy from a hamstring injury. The Carrollton native has passed for 1,051 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions on a 56.8% clip in 2019. 

Houston has the advantage of trends. They are 4-1 all-time against Navy and 2-0 in Houston.

At TDECU Stadium, they are 5-4 against ranked opponents. With Saturday playing as Senior Night, there could be sentimentality hanging in the Holman Street air. 

Nonetheless, as Holgorsen said on Monday, “It’s going to be a pretty big challenge.”

sports@thedailycougar.com


No. 24 Navy matchup ‘pretty big challenge’ for Houston” was originally posted on The Daily Cougar

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