Houston seeks bounce-back effort vs. Sam Houston

Field Level Media

September 21, 2023 at 4:06 am.

Houston continues its season-opening run of games against in-state rivals when it plays host to Sam Houston on Saturday.

The Cougars (1-2) are coming off a 36-13 home loss to TCU in the program’s first Big 12 game.

Houston edged UTSA 17-14 at home in the season opener and lost at crosstown rival Rice 43-41 in two overtimes before falling against the Horned Frogs.

Houston quarterback Donovan Smith completed 17 of 35 passes for 225 yards and two interceptions vs. TCU, and the Cougars mustered only 41 rushing yards on 27 carries.

The offensive struggles could lead to personnel changes.

“Our job is to assess the situation, and clearly who is getting the playing time is at the top of that list,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday. “I’m going to challenge our backups to improve. If we had backups right now that were performing at a very high level, it would make those decisions much easier.”

The Cougars allowed 564 yards of total offense overall but held TCU to 16 points in the second half.

Sam Houston, in its first season in Conference USA as it begins the transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision, has lost its first two games. The Bearkats fell 14-0 at BYU in the season opener and 13-3 last week against Air Force in Houston.

The Bearkats rank No. 12 in the nation in total defense (257.5 yards allowed per game) and No. 22 in scoring defense (13.5 points a game).

However, after running 101 plays on offense against BYU and Air Force, Sam Houston has garnered a total of 265 yards.

Against the Falcons, Sam Houston passed for 44 yards and ran for 36 yards. Quarterback Keegan Shoemaker was sacked four times by Air Force, and he completed 8 of 14 passes.

“This team has prepared at a high level. In practice, meetings and walk-throughs have been lights out,” Sam Houston coach K.C. Keeler said. “Now we have to go have success in the win-loss column. I know we lost to two good opponents, but that is what we scheduled, and we are disappointed we didn’t get any wins.”