Greg Ward’s breakout 2014 season highlights

via @clean_graphics

Time for another post on Greg Ward, Jr! As if I needed another reason why “Cardiac Coogs” is the perfect name for this blog, the video below shows how many times Ward nearly gave Cougar fans a cardiac arrest.

Greg Ward working on taking his game to the next level

via Caitlin Hilton/The Cougar

Greg Ward, Jr. started his sophomore year, 2014, at UH playing wide receiver and also saw time on punt return duty. John O’Korn was Houston’s starting quarterback after having an awesome true freshman year in 2013. What a difference a year makes. Houston switched offensive coordinators between 2013 and 2014 and O’Korn hit a sophomore slump under new coordinator Travis Bush. O’Korn would be benched midway through the 2014 season during the UCF and replaced by Ward, who was still returning punts during the UCF game while nearly engineering the Cougars to an epic upset of the defending AAC champs.

Ward would ignite the Cougar offense, helping the team turn things around and finishing a respectable 8-5. Decent, but not good enough for head coach Tony Levine to save his job. Coach Tom Herman was hired in the offseason to help take Ward and the Cougars to the next level.

From a recent article on The Daily Cougar:

“He’s a dynamic dude back there,” Coach Herman said after the spring game. “I’ve coached a few dynamic guys, and I know the defense gets pretty frustrated at times.”

And

“Greg’s issue is that he’s got to study more and learn to be a quarterback. You can’t just be an athlete taking snaps, running and throwing. You have to be a quarterback — you have to study, lead and know the offense and the defense inside and out. You have to be Tom Brady,” [Coach Tom] Herman said.

Herman compared Ward to highly touted Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller of Ohio State, a guy that has “grown up his entire life showing up a few minutes before the game starts, laces the cleats up, goes out on the field and (becomes) the best guy out there.”

Head on over to The Daily Cougar for the full article.

Is Tom Herman the next great coach from the Urban Meyer coaching tree?

via isportsweb.com

Urban Meyer is arguably one of the top 5 coaches in college football, let alone being considered by many people to be in the top two overall… alongside Nick Saban.

Doing some recent reading on the Ohio State head coach, I noticed that Meyer has a very impressive coaching tree, more impressive than I had realized:

  • Steve Addazio (Temple and Boston College)
  • Gary Andersen (Utah State, Wisconsin and Oregon State)
  • Doc Holliday (Marshall)
  • Dan Mullen (Mississippi State)
  • Charlie Strong (Louisville and Texas)
  • Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
  • Dan McCarney (North Texas)
  • Mike Sanford (UNLV and Indiana State)
  • Tim Beckman (Illinois)
  • Gregg Brandon (Bowling Green and Colorado School of Mines)

New UH head coach Tom Herman is the latest addition to this list and hopefully he moves up there with Mullen, Strong, and Andersen to be considered one of the best ones. It’s certainly possible: Herman has the experience and the background to take the underachieving Cougars to the next level.

Read more: Dan Mullen explains why the Urban Meyer coaching tree is so successful.

Joey Mbu NFL Draft profile

via CentralTrack.com

Yesterday we featured UH standout wide receiver Deontay Greenberry for tomorrows’ draft. Today we’re featuring excellent UH defensive tackle Joey Mbu.

17. Joey Mbu, Houston 6-3, 313

– Don’t expect any sort of athleticism or anything in terms of getting into the backfield on a regular basis, but that’s not why you draft him. He’s very big, very strong, and very tough at holding up against the run. He’s what you want in a leader and a defensive tackle – he’ll be the one everyone works around on the field and off.

– Again, forget about getting behind the line. He’s a nose tackle, but he needs to get stronger overall and generate more power. He’s not an NFL anchor, but he needs to be used like one at times.

Click to read more from CollegeFootballNews.com

STRENGTHS: Boasts the prototypical frame for a run-stuffer with broad shoulders, long arms and a massive lower half, including a big butt and tree trunks for thighs. Good upper-body strength to lock out and anchors well, holding up nicely at the point of attack.
Shows good balance and lateral agility to slide down the line and force the action wide. Effective swim move to penetrate as a pass rusher and has enough short-area quickness to close.

Good awareness. Gets his hands up in the passing game (eight career passes broken up, including two interceptions) and recognizes screens quickly, peeling off to locate the potential receiver rather than rushing the quarterback. Voted a team captain as a junior and senior.

WEAKNESSES: Heavy-footed. Struggles to make plays outside of the tackle box and isn’t much of a threat as a rusher (four career sacks). Often among the last off the ball and does not possess the quickness or speed to offer much in pursuit (though he does show good effort in this area).

Pad level rises as he tires and Houston frequently subbed him out, raising concerns about his conditioning. Weight needs to be monitored as he has weighed as much as 350 pounds in the past.

Click to read more from CBS Sports.

Deontay Greenberry NFL Draft profile

via NBC Sports

The annual NFL Draft kicks of in two days on Thursday evening. Two Houston Cougars are possible candidates to be drafted: junior wide receiver Deontay Greenberry and senior defensive tackle Joey Mbu. This post will feature what some scouts are saying about Greenberry.

Partial quote below via CollegeFootballNews.com:

26. Deontay Greenberry, Houston 6-3, 198

– With great size and 4.5 speed, he’s an intriguing target who looks the part. He can get deep and he can get physical – there’s enough to work with to think that he could turn into a nice late round find.

– A bit too inconsistent, he’s not polished and he needs some refining, but when he’s on, he can light it up. It’s just a question of whether or not he can do all the little things right in a camp.

Partial quote below from CBSSports.com:

STRENGTHS: Tall body type with long arms to extend and pluck. Has the frame to add bulk and continue to develop physically. Balanced athlete with good speed off the line of scrimmage and in/out of his breaks.

Physical after the catch with the tough mentality to break tackles, using his stiff arm to never go down easy. Fearless over the middle and did most of his damage at Houston working inside zones. Athletic ballskills to make tough grabs look easy, including a number of one-handed catches or opposite shoulder receptions that most cannot finish.

Natural acceleration after the catch to get up to top speed quickly and look to create as a ballcarrier. Flexible lower body to make sharp cuts and not slow down when changing directions. Lined up inside and outside in Houston’s spread offense, but moved almost exclusively to the slot as a sophomore. Productive college career as a three-year starter with over 200 catches and eight 100-yard receiving performances.

WEAKNESSES: Leaner than ideal right now with skinny arms and little muscle definition. Indecisive and lackluster route-running and needs to show better urgency and movements.

Sluggish in his breaks and doesn’t consistently use burst in his patterns, allowing defenders to dictate his path and not doing enough to fool defenders or create separation. Mostly free release at Houston and rarely challenged at the line of scrimmage – physicality at the line by NFL defenders will be a tough adjustment.

Will make highlight grabs, but drops too many easy ones and his streaky focus is a red flag. Needs to improve his recognition skills to read coverages and help out his quarterback, especially on blitzes and hot routes.

Underwhelming blocker and struggles to sustain with poor technique and awareness, often appearing disinterested in this area. Lack of aggressiveness and intensity shows up too much on tape and in several areas. Durability not a large concern, but did miss a game in 2013 with an ankle injury.

–Dane Brugler

Bonus: The SB Nation blog Underdog Dynasty has also profiled Greenberry here.

SB Nation’s 2015 Houston football preview: Bringing Ohio State’s success to UH

via Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The always excellent SB Nation is in the middle of releasing their annual football preview for the 2015 season. Yesterday they published the Houston Cougars preview, which is full of some interesting nuggets:

A hell of a DC hire

David Gibbs’ defense was excellent at creating turnover opportunities. It was also woefully inefficient. And now it must replace its starting line and two of its three best linebackers.

It wouldn’t be smart to expect too much improvement, but Herman made an inspiring hire in Todd Orlando.

Orlando is still a pretty young guy, but he boasts a decade of coordinator experience, first at UConn, then FIU, then Utah State. His six UConn defenses ranked 51st or better in Def. S&P+ (four in the top 40), his first FIU defense ranked 57th (best ever for FIU), and despite turnover, his two USU defense ranked fifth and 32nd. He usually finds results in his first year, and his aggressive 3-4 scheme fits with the Houston personnel he inherits. While USU made plenty of havoc plays, Orlando’s focus in Year 1 will likely be efficiency, even if it comes at the expense of some TFLs and turnovers.

While Houston’s offense always gets the spotlight, the play of the defense under coach Orlando will be a key part to whether the Coogs’ can bounce back and have another 2011-like season. Click here to read the rest of the article.

UH expected to name Hunter Yuracheck athletic director

via WMBF News

Hunter Yuracheck, the University of Houston’s associate vice president and COO of intercollegiate athletics, is expected to be promoted to athletic director to replace the departing Mack Rhoades. Full coverage from Cougars beatwriter Joseph Duarte over at The Houston Chronicle.

Carl Lewis was the cover story in yesterday’s Chronicle

Carl Lewis obviously needs no introduction. It’s very cool to see him back at the University of Houston, his alma mater, as an assistant coach. The Houston Chronicle had an awesome feature on Lewis in yesterday’s paper. Please click here to read the article.

Cougars pick up four star WR transfer from OK State

Ra’Shaad Samples is transferring from Oklahoma State to the Houston Cougars. Samples was a four star recruit coming out of Dallas Skyline in 2013 and had offers back then from Texas, Ohio State, Texas A&M, USC, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Samples will sit out the 2015 season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Prospects the Coogs may give offers to this spring

KENDRICK ROGERS via Scout.com

Over at Scout.com there’s a good article on three players the Cougars may give offers to for the 2016 recruiting class: Two defensive lineman and a wide receiver. Click here for the article.