The Houston Cougars defensive line will look to replace the production of defensive end Derek Parish by committee against Tulane and for the rest of the season. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)
The Houston Cougars defense has suffered from the injury bug in 2022. Now with defensive end Derek Parish out for the season, UH will need strength in numbers to replace his production.
The defense has also lost linebacker Malik Robinson along with Parish to season-ending injuries. Linebacker Donovan Mutin, defensive back Gervarrius Owens and cornerback Art Green are all dealing with injuries that have them going day-by-day leading up to Tulane, Houston defensive coordinator Doug Belk said.
For Houston, replacing the production of Parish is going to have to be done by committee, Houston defensive lineman D’Anthony Jones said.
“There’s not a single person that can replace Derek Parish,” Jones said. “What we are going to do is do it as a collective group. Sack Ave together. It’s going to be hard to replace his production, but young guys are going to step up.”
Heading into the game against Tulane, Parish leads the Cougars with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss on the season. The Pearland native is also third on the team in total tackles with 20.
UH’s defensive line has a lot of depth, head coach Dana Holgorsen said. Houston has rotated a lot of players on the defense that have taken a lot of snaps, he said. The Cougars are going to have to rely on production upfront from players like defensive linemen Atlias Bell, Sedrick Williams and Nadame Tucker, Holgorsen said.
Houston could also move around guys on the inside of the defensive line to the outside to create more depth at the end positions, the head coach added.
Williams and Bell are the two players the team is looking to see increase their productions, Jones said. Everyone is going to have to step up in order to succeed against Tulane, Jones said.
The Green Wave are led by quarterback Michael Pratt, who has a lot of experience with Houston’s defensive line players. Last season, the Cougars sacked Pratt eight times on the way to a 40-22 win.
Houston knows Pratt is going to offer various challenges to the defense. Belk called the Green Wave quarterback a warrior that has complete command of his offense.
“We are going to have to buckle down and get ready for a hard game,” Jones said.
Overall, the players are confident defensive line coach Brian Early and Belk will put them in the right positions to succeed, Jones said. Houston’s defense against Rice held the Owls to only 27 points in Week 4. It was the first time in 2022 that the Cougars had not allowed their opponent to score 30 or more points in a game.
“At the end of the day, being shorthanded isn’t an excuse for poor football,” Belk said. “We got to put a good quality product out there. We got guys on scholarship, and it’s our job as coaches to get guys out there.”