Opponents enjoy offensive success against UH

James Beltram

LOS ANGELES, Calif. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Texas Terror arena football team was discovered kidnapping UH players and playing in their stead for a second chance at the NFL.

Thus far this season, the Cougars have played with a "hold them under 100 points" mentality (kind of like the Terror).

The Cougars' secondary must be fighting a bout of dizziness after allowing opposing offenses 1,461 passing yards through the first five games.

In all fairness, though, after playing Alabama, California and UCLA, the Cougars can legitimately claim the 1-4 record is because of the tough opposition.

But there is no hiding the fact that UH will be hard-pressed to win another game this season - even in the forgiving Conference USA - if its defensive performance doesn't change.

"Our team needs to improve," said Cougars coach Kim Helton. "The goal is still to go into our conference and win the conference championship."

For the Cougars' sake, I hope the gap in talent levels between non-conference teams and schools in C-USA is astronomical. Otherwise, Helton's hopes for a return trip to Memphis in December seems highly unlikely.

UH strong safety Stedmon Forman said he is not happy with the defensive showing in the Cougars' non-conference schedule, but is confident the season will improve when C-USA competition begins. "You can't blame the losses on the tough teams we've been playing," he said. "We just haven't played up to our capability. The teams in C-USA aren't as tough, and I think our intensity will increase for those games."

When a team has struggled like the Cougars, it is hard to place the blame on a single part of the team. Certainly the secondary is not the only unit at fault for failing to hold the opponent under 35 points the entire season.

The Cougars' offense has turned the ball over on 15 occasions this season, six of them coming against the Bruins. Those mistakes can make any score look worse than it truly is.

But the statistics are difficult to overlook. The defense has allowed an average of 445 total offensive yards a game- which has undeniably led to the majority of the 31 touchdowns scored by the opponents in 1997.

Meanwhile, though, I'm sure Shasta is breathing a sigh of relief, knowing he doesn't have to do push-ups when the other team scores. After all, if UH is letting its bowl chances die, it can't afford to let its mascot do the same.

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