The Houston Cougars made a successful transition to the AAC in 2013, finishing the year 8-5 and 5-3 in conference play. But Houston faltered down the stretch, losing four of their last five games, including a 41-24 loss in the BBVA Compass Bowl. For the Cougars to take the next step in 2014 and become a legitimate contender for the AAC title, they need a leader to step up and help them finish strong. Can quarterback John O’Korn answer the call?
As a freshman in 2013, O’Korn showed an efficient handle of the offense in 11 starts. He completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 3,117 yards with 28 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 104 yards on the ground with a touchdown and was named the league’s rookie of the year for his efforts.
This season, O’Korn will be the AAC’s second-leading returning passer behind only newcomer Shane Carden of the East Carolina Pirates. He is one of eight returning offensive starters for the Cougars, including leading receiver Deontay Greenberry who caught 82 passes for 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. They have the talent in place to make a run but need someone to give them a spark in 2014.
After seeing what O’Korn was capable of after just stepping onto campus, the ceiling for the young signal caller appears to be very high. How well he develops this offseason, both as a quarterback and as a leader, will be key to the Cougars taking the next step this fall as a program. If O’Korn can take his game to the next level this fall, look for Houston to be a major player in the AAC title race.