As the Houston Cougars approach the halfway point of the season, head coach Major Applewhite and his players are taking it one game at a time.
“How can we focus on one game at a time, one period at a time, one practice at a time and one rep at a time? We have our mindset that way as a football team,” Applewhite said at the weekly news conference on Monday. “What do we have to do throughout the week in our process of getting ready to give ourselves the best chance to win? Let’s not get too retrospective halfway into the season.”
With that, the Cougars (4-1 overall, 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference) have turned their attention to this week’s conference road game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-5, 0-2).
The game will take place at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa for a 3 p.m. kickoff.
The Cougars are coming off a two-game winning stretch, recording conference wins over Temple (20-13) and SMU (35-22).
The Cougars are trying to not get complacent with six games left in the regular season.
“Let’s understand what we’ve done the last couple of weeks that has allowed us to win,” Applewhite said. “While there’s been some good things over the last two weeks, let’s not lose sight of our failures three weeks ago. That can get washed away after a couple of wins.”
While the Cougars look to extend their two-game winning streak, Tulsa is looking to snap a four-game skid, dropping last week’s contest against Tulane, 62-28.
Last week, the Cougars’ running game took off, putting up 265 total rushing yards.
“There are so many things that go into the run game,” Applewhite said. “The offensive line, first and foremost deserves credit. Both of our lines, defensive and offensive, we promote those in our program. They did a great job of executing and doing what they’re asked to do.”
Running back Duke Catalon ended up with 22 carries for 177 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars’ ground game.
Quarterback Kyle Postma, starting in his second game this season, went 19-of-27 for 176 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. Wide receiver Steven Dunbar had six receptions for 65 yards.
“I think more guys have become more comfortable in their roles,” Applewhite said. “It helped with Dillon Birden being out. Duke got more of a flow. We played faster, the plays came in faster, the players lined up faster and they played better that way. We have to continue to improve on that and keep that same tempo throughout practice and get better.”
As for recent injuries, Applewhite said that Linell Bonner and Birden are closer to being back.
“They are much closer to playing this week than they were before,” Applewhite said. “Hopefully, (Bonner) will be available this Saturday. Both of those guys should be closer to playing this week.”
Houston’s defense leads the nation, allowing a touchdown in only 33.3 percent of its opponents trips to the red zone.
Saturday’s game will feature Houston’s No. 12 scoring defense (16.2 points per game) against Tulsa’s No. 43 scoring offense (33.8 points per game).