Houston vs. Memphis Instant Analysis

    Analysis and thoughts on Houston's thrilling win over Memphis.

    November 15, 2015


    1. Who better than Tom Herman to be working with a backup quarterback?

    Herman was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, when Cardale Jones came off the bench to miraculously lead the Buckeyes to the 2014 national title. So, after Greg Ward Jr. rolled his ankle in the first half, Herman had Memphis right where he wanted it.

    That Houston remained unbeaten on a night it trailed 20-0 and played most of the game without its star passer is testament to why Herman is one of the country’s hottest young coaching candidates. The guy who rallied the Cougars all the way back for a stirring 35-34 win? Yeah, that would be Kyle Postma, a JUCO transfer who began the year at wide receiver after losing the backup quarterback job to Adam Schulz.

    Postma was in complete control of the Cougar attack. Polished. Fundamentally sound. Unmoved by the magnitude of the moment. He’s another Herman disciple, so tonight’s sterling performance with the spotlight shining brightly should be a surprise to no one.

    2. Assist to Navy

    Memphis ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. That has a habit of happening the week after teams face the Midshipmen.

    The Tigers kept hitting the pedal down the stretch, yet went nowhere. They were spent, the residual effect of playing Navy a week earlier. The Mids wear teams down like a heavyweight prizefighter, landing body blows with its ground troops and now its underrated defense.

    Memphis started fast and at 34-14 seemingly had this one under control at the start of the fourth quarter. But then legs became heavy, breaths were short and the Tigers were just hanging on for dear life. Navy had a hand in both Memphis losses this year, knocking the Tigers out of division contention and out of the Top 25. The Mids can now turn their attention to the Nov. 27 trip to Houston for a game that’ll decide the West half of the American Athletic Conference.

    3. In the end, the D let down Memphis

    The Tigers didn’t have quite enough defense to continue this magical ride in 2015. And that’s a shame, because it looked for a time as if this program might run the table and even make things difficult on the College Football Playoff committee.

    First-year defensive coordinator Galen Scott has done an underrated job for Justin Fuente this season. It’s important to remember how many key parts Memphis lost to graduation at the end of 2014. But when the Tigers needed to be more than Paxton Lynch & Co., they couldn’t deliver; not last week against Navy and not in the final quarter tonight in Houston.

    It’s been a historically memorable year so far in Memphis, one that might propel the quarterback to the first round of the NFL Draft and the head coach to a huge promotion. But to go the extra mile and seal the deal, the Tigers needed to make timely stops. And that just didn’t happen in Weeks 10 and 11, two crushing losses destined to overshadow just how well this program performed in September and October.

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