AAC Today

AAC notebook: Houston focuses on necessary repairs

SEP 15, 2016:  Houston Cougars head coach Tom Herman looks on during the game against the Houston Cougars and the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire).
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

Situations sometimes change quicker than the snap of a football in a hurry-up offense. The Houston Cougars learned that the hard way last Saturday, when their envious national playoff stature was drastically diminished by a 46-40 loss to Navy.

One day Houston coach Tom Herman was on “The Dan Patrick Show” saying his team had a legitimate shot at the national championship. The next day he watched his team’s eight-game winning streak come to an end. In the process, a lot of Houston’s dreams were thrown into jeopardy.

“I think we’ve got as good a team as anybody in the country for three hours on a Saturday,” Herman said on the Patrick Show.

By Monday, Herman was pointing to turnovers, special teams mistakes, and his team’s failure to stop Navy’s running game as reasons for Houston’s second loss in his tenure.

“What could have went wrong went wrong,” Herman said during his portion of the AAC coaches’ teleconference call. “We’ve got to figure out why.”

With the season-opening win over Oklahoma tucked in their back pocket, the Cougars were 6-0 and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll before the loss. Herman says all of his team’s goals are still in front of them, but now they are 6-1, and it is difficult to imagine a scenario where the Cougars could work their way back into playoff contention.

With Navy 3-0 in the AAC West, Houston is no longer in control of the division. Memphis and Tulsa are both 1-0 and ahead of Houston (2-1).

Herman said the Cougars’ “spirits were a little down” when they gathered for Sunday night’s team meeting. The mood was better Monday. “They’re not crying anymore,” Herman said.

Herman will be urging his staff to get contributions from scholarship players who are not currently starters.

“What do you do for your scholarship? How do you earn your scholarship? You go out and practice? What do you do on game day for us? I made that very clear that it’s imperative moving forward,” Herman said.

08 October, 2016: Navy Midshipmen quarterback Will Worth (15) runs an option play with Navy Midshipmen running back Dishan Romine (28) during an AAC match between Navy and Houston at Navy - Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire)

08 October, 2016: Navy Midshipmen quarterback Will Worth (15) runs an option play with Navy Midshipmen running back Dishan Romine (28) during an AAC match between Navy and Houston at Navy – Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./Icon Sportswire)

Worth The Wait

Navy quarterback Will Worth was named AAC Offensive Player of the Week after his performance against Houston’s rugged defense. Worth was involved in three touchdowns as Navy extended its home winning streak to 13 games.

Worth, who wasn’t even in Navy’s plans heading into the season opener, rushed for 115 yards and one touchdown in 32 carries against a Houston team that led the nation in rushing defense. He also threw two touchdown passes, including a 17-yard TD that started the third quarter and gave Navy the lead for good.

Tago Smith was in line to start this season as the replacement for former Heisman Trophy candidate Keenan Reynolds, but Smith was injured in the first game, and will miss the remainder of the season. That gave Worth, a senior from Valrico, Florida, his chance to play.

Herman was asked his thoughts on Worth’s play.

“I think he kicked our butt,” Herman said.

“He operates that [triple option] system very well. For different reasons than Keenan Reynolds, he’s very difficult to tackle. We had very good tacklers bounce off him and he gained a lot of extra yards after contact. When everything is defended properly and yet he can still make five or six yards, that obviously makes for a very big deal. By bouncing off tackles, it makes for a long day at the office for your defense.”

Matthew Messing with Schedule

Hurricane Matthew’s impact is still being felt.

If you haven’t heard, the AAC game between Navy and East Carolina scheduled for Thursday has been postponed to Saturday, Nov. 19 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, N.C.

Matthew caused problems up and down the East Coast last week, leaving behind problems that will not go away quickly. With anticipated flooding in Greenville and the rest of the eastern North Carolina area this week, the decision was made in advance rather than take chances. Navy and East Carolina both had Nov. 19 as an open date.

The kickoff time and television designation for the Nov. 19 game will be announced at a later date.

Last week’s game between Tulane at UCF was moved to Nov. 5 because of the hurricane.

Switzer: Say No to Houston

With the Big 12 expected to discuss the possibility of expansion at its upcoming meetings, everyone has an opinion on what might happen. The latest rumors have the conference tabling expansion – despite all the research and interviews.

Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer has made it clear Houston is not welcome to join the Big 12.

Here’s Switzer, speaking to the Houston Chronicle:

“It’d be a hell of a mistake if the Big 12 allows them to come in. They’ve got better players in Harris County than anywhere else in the United States.

“You give them credibility like you did TCU (and) let them out of that Mountain something West league and give them credibility, they’ll be recruiting the same players Texas, Oklahoma and everybody else is recruiting. And they’ll get them, too. Right now, they don’t get the same players. But they still get enough good ones.

“In my personal opinion, I wouldn’t let them in, but I’m not involved anymore. It would make it tougher on Oklahoma, no doubt. I don’t know how they’ll vote.”Me, if I had a chance to vote on them? Hell, no. I think it was a mistake to let TCU in and they proved it was a mistake.”

“I always said if I could get the top 30 players coming out of Houston every year, I’d play for the national championship every year.”


“I thought the old man did great. … That’s two weeks in a row where he’s come in and made plays for us. I love Johnny Ward to death. You want to know the character of our football team, you look at a guy like Johnny Ward who played a lot of football for us here and had his position taken. He could’ve easily just went in a shell and he didn’t.”

– USF coach Willie Taggart on the senior cornerback, who had a pick-six at Cincinnati and finished with two tackles and a pass breakup this past Saturday against East Carolina. – Tampa Bay Times

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