Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Notes from the Opponent: Houston

Courtesy of Anh Le/The Cougar
Houston Cougars’ Quarterback Donovan Smith

The Daily Texan chatted with Starns Leland, the sports editor for The Cougar, to talk about why this week’s football game is so important for the University of Houston. 

The Daily Texan: This game is sold out, what is the student vibe like around campus and how is everybody feeling about this week’s game?

The Cougar: I think it’s definitely the biggest UH football game and maybe the biggest sporting event we’ve had in some years. Obviously, you can see that because (the game) sold out so quickly and student tickets were sold out I think in like 30 minutes. Everyone at UH wants to beat Texas, everyone at every other Texas school wants to beat Texas. There’s especially a lot of history there with Texas back in the 90’s with the Southwest Conference and Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor joining the Big 12 and Houston not being a part of that. This game represents that they get one shot at Texas to make things right in their mind. 

DT: Houston is coming off of an insane Hail Mary win over West Virginia. How much of a confidence booster is that, especially with the rocky start? 

TC: It seemed that they played well enough to win that game, and then West Virginia came back to score that touchdown with 12 seconds left. And then among fans in the building there was this immense amount of dread because it was three Big 12 games, three really bad losses. When (the Hail Mary) happened, all the (dread and disappointment) went away. They needed a win against West Virginia more than anything, or else (the season) was gonna get ugly. They showed that they could win a big game and that they could play a full big tall game.

DT: Houston’s quarterback Donovan Smith had a good game against West Virginia, what does he need to do well this week to beat Texas?

TC: He’s gonna need to get the ball out quickly against Texas. The left side of the offensive line is solid, but the right side lot line has been tough, and the Texas D-line is usually the toughest challenge that they have faced up to this point and probably will face this year. And so he’s going to need to get the ball out quickly and escape with his legs when he can. The last few games against Texas Tech and West Virginia were his two best games as a Cougar and against West Virginia he finished the game 16-for-16, with the last one of course being a Hail Mary. He’s tough to bring down when they do run him, he can consistently get some yards. He struggled early on but over the last few games, he’s started to play a lot better and with more confidence.

DT: What has the transition to the Big 12 been like competition-wise?

TC: It’s been tough for them and it’s very obvious in the first few games that they just didn’t have the bodies quite yet and the depth to keep up. The biggest challenge has been playing a complete game of complimentary football and just that lack of consistency has been a huge problem.

DT: What does the Houston defense need to do to stop Quinn Ewers and the rest of the Texas offense? 

TC: They need to stop Jonathon Brooks. What teams like TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia have been able to do against Houston is run on them without much resistance. I think you know, shutting down the Texas defense or offense is unrealistic. Houston needs to play good defense in the red zone. They need to force field goals. They need to get off the field and that of course will allow the offense some more breathing room to keep up, and so it’s mostly stopping the run and then playing well.  

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