Houston coach Tom Herman is in his first year on the Cougar sideline after he helped Ohio State to the 2014 College Football Playoff National Championship as the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Cougars closed last season by beating Pittsburgh, 35-34, in the Armed Forces Bowl. Houston trailed 34-13 with less than four minutes left before scoring three touchdowns and recovering two onside kicks.
QB Greg Ward Jr. went 6-2 as Houston’s starting signal-caller last season. Ward completed 67.0 percent of his passes (175 of 261) and accounted for 18 touchdowns (12 passing, six rushing). RB Kenneth Farrow led the American Athletic Conference with seven 100-yard games last season. Farrow has been named to the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Doak Walker Award. WR Demarcus Ayers, who was The American’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2013, is the top returning receiver for 2015. Ayers had 33 receptions for 335 yards and two TDs last season.
Houston, which led the nation in takeaways in 2013, finished 11th nationally in 2014 with 30 turnovers gained. S Adrian McDonald had a had in eight turnovers last season. He had five interceptions and three fumble recoveries and was a first-team allconference selection last year. McDonald leads a secondary that returns all four starters from last season.. CB William Jackson had 12 passes defended last year on his way to second-team all-conference honors. LB Steven Taylor is the lone returning starter at linebacker. Taylor was second on the team with 76 tackles to go with four sacks, nine tackles for loss and three forced fumbles in 2014.
Houston returns both of its kicking specialists from 2014. K Kyle Bullard was fourth among American Athletic Conference kickers in scoring last season (6.9 points per game). P Logan Piper averaged 39.5 yards per punt in his first year as the Cougars’ punter.