H-Town Takeover In The ATL

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ATLANTA, Ga.— For three straight years in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, it has been a school from Texas standing on the championship trophy stage with confetti falling from the roof the Georgia Dome. This year, it is the Houston Cougars over the Florida State Seminoles 38-24.

Not many expected the team led by first year head coach Tom Herman to be the team standing on the stage with ESPN’s Tom Luginbill interviewing them in the trophy presentation. The Seminoles were favored by seven points in this game and that didn’t bother Herman.

“I felt like we weren’t going to match up player to player,” Herman said. “We’re just not with them. So we felt like we had to use tempo to our advantage and go fast (on offense). Our kids bought into the plan and we practiced, had a great couple of weeks practicing that way.”

Houston was able to rack up 448 yards of total offense against the nation’s number 15th ranked defense. Most of it was done on the ground, with junior quarterback Greg Ward Jr. running the ball 20 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns.

The Tyler, Tx. native even took a couple of hard hits and had to go to the sideline with minor injuries during the game. So, sophomore quarterback Kyle Postma had to come in to play.

Postma helped lead the Cougars down the field in their final offensive drive of the game to convert two very key third downs to set up the Cougars for their final touchdown to seal the win. Ward however was able to come back on the field to take the final snap of the game to take the knee.

Ward was named the offensive MVP for the game and says that he was still in disbelief over the win during the postgame press conference.

“It really doesn’t seem real,” Ward said. “Coach always talks about confetti falling and being with your brothers just celebrating a win. I’m really numb to the fact we just won right now.”

The players all week talked about their admiration for Herman and the energy that he has brought to the campus in Houston. It is evident today in the fact that his team has finished 13-1 for the season to tie their program best record from the 2011 season.

Herman was considered to be one of the best offensive minded coaches in college football, when he left Ohio State to become the head coach at Houston. Junior wide receiver Demarcus Ayers thinks that he’s even better than that.

“There’s no better coach to play for than Tom Herman,” Ayers said. “He’s one of the best out there. He’s a very high class guy and he knows how to have relationships with his players on/off the field. He’s going to go down as one of the greatest coaches in college football history.”

Ayers earned his keep in this game as well, with a trick play touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Chance Allen in the second quarter to put Houston up 14-3 at that point.

The defense for the Cougars also helped win the game, by limiting Seminoles standout running back Dalvin Cook to just 33 yards on 18 carries. They also intercepted Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire four times.

Houston senior safety Trevor Stewart was not named the defensive MVP, for his two interceptions. But, he was able to total up four tackles and recover a fumble. Cornerback William Jackson III was the defensive MVP.

The Cougars got to play in a College Football Playoff “New Years Six” bowl game for the first time in program history, which is something Stewart says he predicted would happen for them before he left school. Not everyone agreed with him.

“I thought about my high school baseball coach,” Stewart said. “My freshman year I remember we went 5 and 7 and I tweeted him. I said before I graduate I’m going to play in a BCS bowl game. And he tweeted back and he said, you must be transferring, like I couldn’t play in a bowl game there. So last night, last night I posted and tagged him in it, so I know he was watching. He told me he was watching.”

Now that the season is over with, Herman says that the program will have a short time off to enjoy this win. However, they will be back in the weight room and on the practice fields to get ready for the 2016 season.

Herman says the win is great and now some serious work is ahead for the program.

“I think anytime you win your last game you carry momentum into the next season and into the offseason,” Herman said. “I think what we’re certainly going to have to combat is that awful dreaded word “complacency,” and thinking that because we’re all humans, we’re all flawed creatures. The human nature thing the easy thing to do is to pat yourself on the back and rest on your laurels.”

According to the recruiting website rivals.com, the Cougars are currently the 28th best class heading into National Signing Day. That is the third best in the state of Texas behind Texas A&M and Baylor.

They will have a ton of players returning for the 2016 season and this is why Herman feels like they still need to continue building the program in Houston.

A little side note, Herman was once stuck in Atlanta for 19 hours in his car on Interstate 285 during the now famous “Snowmagedon” in February of 2014. Needless to say, this trip here was a little more fun.

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