UConn-Houston grades: Greg Ward Jr. earns elite grade in Cougars’ big win

Cougars led by star QB Ward on offense, and stud freshman D-lineman Ed Oliver on defense in 42-14 win.

| 4 weeks ago
(Bob Levey, Getty Images)

(Bob Levey, Getty Images)

UConn-Houston grades: Greg Ward Jr. earns elite grade in Cougars’ big win

Houston Cougars 42, Connecticut Huskies 14

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cougars’ 42-14 win over the Huskies on Thursday night:

Houston Cougars

Quarterback grade: Greg Ward Jr., 87.6

Ward was simply fantastic in this one, and there really isn’t much to say about him that isn’t positive. Ward finished Thursday night completing 84.6 percent of his passes, and when you account for one of those incompletions being a drop, his adjusted completion percentage sits at 87.6. Ward was quite effective in the intermediate range of the field last night, completing 6 of 7 attempts for 102 yards and a touchdown on balls that traveled between 10 and 19 yards through the air. Ward was also extremely effective when he was under pressure — Ward was pressured on nine of his dropbacks, on which he attempted five throws and completed four of them for 70 yards, three touchdowns and a sparkling 158.3 QB rating.

Top offensive grades: 

QB Greg Ward Jr., 87.6

WR Linell Bonner, 84.8

T Na’Ty Rodgers, 77.6

WR Steven Dunbar, 74.3

T Braylon Jones, 71.6

Wide receiver Linell Bonner with a huge night 

Ward spread the ball among his playmakers last night – four different receivers had at least 5 targets – but he clearly had it clicking with Bonner, who caught all 13 of his targets for 161 yards and a touchdown. Bonner absolutely shredded the Huskies’ defense from the slot, where he had 11 of his receptions and a yards-per-route-run average of 4.8. To put that in perspective, if 4.8 yards-per-route-run was his season average, it’d be better than the second highest YPRR from a slot receiver by nearly a yard.

Top defensive grades:

DI Ed Oliver, 85.4

S Khalil Williams, 77.1

LB Steven Taylor, 75.5 

S Terrell Williams, 74.1 

LB D’Juan Hines, 73.8 

Star true freshman Ed Oliver dominates up front 

Ed Oliver was a man among boys on the field last night, as the Connecticut offense just flat out didn’t have an answer for him. Oliver was disruptive all game long, so much so that he didn’t have one single negatively graded play. Oliver tied for the team lead with four stops last night (a stop constitutes as a solo tackle that results in a loss for the offense given the situation) to go with a sack, hit, hurry and two batted passes as a pass-rusher.

Connecticut Huskies

Quarterback grade: Bryant Shirreffs, 69.7

It was an unspectacular-but-not-awful performance from Shirreffs last night, as the Huskies spent most of this game playing catch-up. Shirreffs really had things working on the right side of the field, where he completed seven of his 10 attempts for 123 yards. Noel Thomas Jr. was able to get himself open along the left side of the field, however, on multiple instances for what could have been big gains and Shirreffs just couldn’t get him the ball, and he also folded under pressure where he completed just 1 of his 7 attempts.

Top offensive grades:

T Matt Peart, 81.5

T Andreas Knappe, 77.1

WR Noel Thomas Jr., 74.6

QB Bryant Shirreffs, 69.7

G Richard Levy, 67.9

UConn offense falls flat in Houston

WR Noel Thomas had a nice game, catching six of his 12 targets for 135 yards, including a very impressive 62-yard catch-and-run that he brought in for a touchdown. Both offensive tackles, Peart and Knappe, also played well, especially in pass protection where they allowed just one total pressure (a hit given up by Knappe) between them all game.

Top defensive grades:

LB Junior Joseph, 80.0

LB Matthew Walsh, 77.7

DI Mikal Myers, 76.0

ED Luke Carrezola, 75.3

LB E.J. Levenberry, 75.1

Defense has its moments in loss

The Huskies’ defense played well in spurts, but ultimately it was just simply outmatched by a dominant opponent. LB Junior Joseph was second on the team with four stops in the game, and he made some nice plays stopping some short passes. Mikal Myers led the team with an 81.0 grade in run defense. With the exception of the secondary, no individual defensive players had awful games, but the unit as a whole was just outclassed by a very talented Houston offense.

  • Brad Barber

    You guys should put all player grades/stats and then go into detail with the top 5 best grades for offense and defense on both teams