There were some obvious problems with the red zone offense. Then again, "problems" doesn't quite do it justice. They flat out sucked. One late TD in eight trips, including two where they didn't score. Richie Leone kicked 5 out of 6 field goals to account for most of the scoring as the Cougars found new and creative ways to avoid the end zone with seemingly every trip.
But on the whole, it was a good win. They were only three point favorites on the road, where they were particularly shaky during last season's 5-7 disaster. Temple had performed better than the score looked against Notre Dame last week, and played pretty solid defense.
This was a game UH was supposed to win, and probably should have in much easier fashion. Temple's Jr. High-level place-kicking and shaky offense made up for the UH red zone woes. Despite all that, there were some positive signs moving forward:
1) The QB shuffle appears to be over. True freshman John O'Korn was 23 of 31 for 233 yards in relief of a struggling David Piland. While those numbers are pedestrian by UH standards, he didn't throw a pick (he did have one bad red zone fumble), looked poised throughout and appears to have a very bright future. He should only get better as we get deeper into the season. He has two weeks of practice before the next game, which should allow him to learn more of the offense. He had a couple freshman moments, but you have to be encouraged by his efforts the first two weeks.
2) The red zone woes are fixable. Kenneth Farrow's injury didn't help, but stubbornly relying on the power package and playing to the strength of the Temple defense was mind boggling. That's something they will work on. Spreading things out and giving the RBs more room to work will help. As bad as it was in the red zone, that's something they can fix. If they do, this should be the high-volume scoring offense UH fans are used to seeing. As it was, they did manage over 500 yards of offense and as a team have yet to throw an interception this season.
3) Deontay Greenberry is legitimate. Last year's 5 star recruit had 14 catches for 165 yards and looked uncoverable throughout the game. He is going to be a big part of this team going forward.
4) The defense played extremely well, allowing zero points in the second half. There are still some things that need to be shored up, and a quality QB is going to give them fits, but they forced three turnovers, got pressure on the quarterback and shut down Temple's run game in the second half. They did benefit from strong field position (a by product of red zone failures) and Temple's ineptitude, but last year's defense would have lost this game.
5) IF Farrow is healthy, they really won't miss Charles Sims. The Farrow/Ryan Jackson duo is solid. Jackson is explosive, and Farrow is powerful. If Farrow is out for a while...then this could become a weakness.
There were other negatives besides the red zone. The Cougars had eight penalties for 77 yards, some of them completely unnecessary, including a targeting penalty (four personal fouls overall). At least that was down from an abysmal 14 overall the week before.
Xavier Maxwell had issues holding on to the ball, both on catchable passes and his two fumbles, one of which was lost. He is used too much in this offense for that and you have to think adjustments will be made.
Where's the deep ball? They probably dialed things back for O'Korn, but an occasional deep shot is paramount for success in this offense.
Farrow's injury might turn out to be a huge negative, but we will learn more on that the next few days. And finally, they let an inferior team hang around and have hope and nearly gave away a game they dominated statistically. (32 first downs to 19, 524 yards to 300).
In the end, however, as ugly as it was, it was a victory. After last year, they will take all of those they can get.