- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2016

HOUSTON (AP) - Coach Tom Herman and No. 6 Houston insist they won’t be looking past Lamar despite the quick turnaround they’ll face with their American Athletic Conference opener against Cincinnati looming next Thursday.

“We knew this short week was coming,” Herman said. “Our coaches have looked at the preliminary scouting report on Cincinnati, but we will spend zero practice time and game planning time on anyone other than Lamar.”

The Cougars will have to guard against a letdown against the FCS Cardinals a week after an emotional 33-23 win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma in the season opener.

It was the highest-ranked team Houston had beaten since a 29-15 win over Texas, which was also ranked third, on Nov. 10, 1984. The victory moved Houston up nine spots in the poll to its highest ranking since it was No. 3 in 1990.

“It’s a testament to, no matter the physical mismatches that may exist on a football field, if you play really hard and you have a purpose about you and that purpose is the love of your teammates and coaches, then you will be able to do things that a lot of people think might not be possible,” Herman said.

Though they know better than to take Lamar, which is coming off a 38-14 loss to Coastal Carolina in its opener. Despite the big win, Herman has a long list of things his team can do better.

“We can’t have the kind of busts that we had in the secondary,” Herman said. “We have to be able to run the ball. When you have a 16-point lead late in the fourth quarter you have to get a few first downs and keep your defense off the field. We were at the 14-minute mark about to go up 40-17 against the No. 3 team in the country, and we fumbled the ball in the end zone and put our defense out on the field. That is obviously very unacceptable.”

Some things to know about Houston’s game against Lamar:

WARD’S SHOULDER

Houston quarterback Greg Ward injured his right shoulder against Oklahoma, and could sit out on Saturday. Ward had an MRI on Monday which Herman said revealed no structural damage. Ward threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns against Sooners.

“It’s feeling all right,” Ward said. “It’s getting better each and every day.”

Ward said he was injured against the Sooners when “a guy fell on me and jerked it the wrong way.” But he remained in the game after hurting it.

KICKOFF RETURN WOES

Herman was not pleased with his team’s performance on kickoff returns after neither of Houston’s first two on Saturday made it to the 15-yard line.

“We stink on kickoff return,” he said. “That was a point of emphasis going into the season, so we really need to evaluate what we’re doing and who were putting on that team.”

WILSON WOWS

Brandon Wilson had a great game in Houston’s opener, finishing with a career-high 10 tackles, including one for a loss. But it was his work on special teams that really wowed as the senior cornerback took a short 54-yard field goal attempt back 100 yards for a touchdown to give Houston 26-17 lead with about nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.

“Pound for pound, if not the, then (he is) one of the strongest guys on our team,” Herman said. “He runs really, really hard. He’s fast so when he is in the open field, he can run away from people and run through some angles, but he’s also really good at running in traffic with some strength and power behind him to bounce off some arm tackles.”

DRAKE SHOWS LOVE

Drake headlined a concert in Houston at the Toyota Center on Saturday night just hours after the Cougars picked up their win over Oklahoma The rapper took the stage in a Houston jersey with the No. 1 on it. Herman was excited about the gesture and tweeted a couple of pictures of Drake in the jersey with the message: “Thanks again to Drake for reppin the Coogs last night.”

While the jersey had Ward’s number on it, the quarterback brushed off the notion that it was his jersey because it didn’t have his name on the back.

“He wasn’t wearing my jersey,” Ward said. “He was wearing our jersey, a Houston jersey.”

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