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Volume 71, Issue 11, Tuesday, September 6, 2005


The power of a team's momentum

Sports commentary

Chris Elliot

Football momentum can be defined as a series of effective plays on both sides of the ball that give one team the upper hand on the field. Momentum can shift from team to team during the course of the game. 

Some people (and I used to be one of them) believe there is no such thing as momentum -- a game is determined one down at a time. But after witnessing the collapse of a Houston team that dominated the first 33 minutes of its season opener against Oregon, I am a strong believer in momentum. I know the exact moment it shifted in favor of the Ducks.

After forcing Oregon to attempt its fifth field goal, Houston found itself in a drive in which it attempted two fourth down conversions. The first fourth down was more than successful. Not only did Houston convert on fourth and two, but wide receiver Vincent Marshall managed to break for 17 yards. Add a defensive facemask penalty, and UH ends up with the ball on Oregon's 17-yard line. Five plays and a false start later, it is fourth and three on the 9-yard line.

The slant pass was incomplete. Quarterback Kevin Kolb could not hook up with receiver Donnie Avery. 

One cannot be sure whether it was because of overconfidence in the offense or lack of experience at place kicker. However, it can't be denied that those potential three points were missed on the scoreboard. 

The thought of possibly beating a team that could be ranked in the top 25 almost seemed reasonable while the Cougars were riding a 21-point offensive explosion in the first quarter. A victory over Oregon would have given the Cougars the press and notoriety they had been seeking. 

Though Houston looks to be far from dominating every down, there were some flashes of brilliance when they were clicking as a team in the first quarter.

In the first showcasing of the 3-4 defense, the Cougar's fared well at times, stunting and blitzing to keep pressure on Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens. After the Ducks began picking up and reading the blitzes, Clemens was left with enough time to find his receivers, and that was all he needed.

Playing against a team from the Pac-10 is never easy. In its 24-38 loss to Oregon, Houston held its own until the momentum shifted. Fans only hope the momentum will be in Houston's favor more often than not in the remaining games of the season.

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