After a hot start to the season and seemingly everything going Houston’s way the Cougars couldn’t seem to find their way since the UConn game a month ago. It looked like the “H-Town Collapse” would continue. The Cougars were down 21-3 at the half.
The Cougars went into the half with -12 rushing yard and all the momentum on UCF’s side. Greg Ward Jr.’s struggles continued with three first half interceptions. Pretty much every stat and notable number was in favor of the Knights.
This game was the epitome of tale of two halves, and potentially season saving. Another loss for the Cougars could’ve proved devastating. A loss against the Knights would’ve been three out of four and almost could’ve been four out of four if it wasn’t for a last second goal line stand against Tulsa.
“We grew up, we grew up immensely,” Houston Head Coach Tom Herman said. “In my opinion Mike Tyson had it wrong when he said ‘everyones got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ You don’t walk into a heavyweight fight and think you’re not going to get punched in the mouth. You have to have a plan for when you do get punched in the mouth, and our guys did a great job of going back to that plan at halftime.”
Whatever Herman said at halftime worked, because another team showed up, well the team that was so hot at the beginning of the year showed up.
“There was a ton of confidence and positivity in that locker room at halftime, and we obviously needed that,” Herman said. Herman once again praised his players for buying into the system he and his coaches have put in place. “Our kids buying into the culture and buying into their training on how to respond to adversity, most of it self-inflicted.”
The Cougars outscored the Knights 28-3 in the second half. The Cougars defense came up big and needed to. Even holding the Knights to three points it took awhile for the offense to get going. You could almost see the sputtering and backfiring of the offense. A couple of times the Cougars defense would force a turnover or hold the Knights and the Cougars offense would either go backwards or turn it right back over.
The trend of getting off to slow starts once again almost came back to cost the Cougars. Ever since avenging their lone 2015 season loss to UConn a month ago the Cougars haven’t seemed right. Also around that time the rumors of Herman leaving really ramped up, whether that has something to do with the Cougars play remains unknown and won’t likely be answered anytime soon.
The off week couldn’t come at a better time for Herman and his players. The Cougars must take the momentum they created in the second half of the UCF game and carry it into the off week and into their matchup against the Cardinals, which a few weeks ago was a lot more glamorous than it is right now. The Cougars have been struggling and Louisville narrowly escaped with a win against Virginia.