Houston Cougars: One of the Top Defenses in the Nation

Houston linebacker Donavan Mutin celebrates a big play for his defense. (Courtesy Houston Athletics)

Houston Cougars: One of the Top Defenses in the Nation

Photo courtesy Houston Athletics

The Houston Cougars defense ranked among the strongest units in the country in 2021 and this
season, the group is looking to raise the bar even higher.

UH was sixth in the country in total defense, first when it came to holding off opponents from
converting on third downs, sixth in first down defense and 11th in sacks in 2021. While topping
last season’s accolades will be a tough task, the Cougars are locked in on making it a reality,
and also achieving a couple of goals last year’s team could not attain.

“We can be the best the school has ever seen,” UH senior linebacker Donavan Mutin told
reporters during a training camp Zoom call.

The mentality of the “Third Ward Defense” is to goose egg everybody, Mutin said. Aiming to
shut out opponents is a bold goal, but it is what the Cougars are striving for. The Cougars did it
once in 2021 against Grambling, and they came close against Rice, Tulsa and Temple.

For Houston, it goes beyond striving for perfection. It’s more about a lesson it learned in 2021,
which is that every play matters. While a lot of teams at the beginning of the season talk about
striving for perfection, the Cougars are motivated after falling short in the AAC championship
against Cincinnati, Mutin said.

“This is the most focused, calculated and precise that we’ve been in our attack to go get what
we are trying to go get,” Mutin said. “Everybody understands that it comes up to about 12 plays
if you look at our season (in 2021).”

Heading into 2022, the defense is locked in, UH defensive lineman D’Anthony Jones said. The
Cougars believe it was the little things that separated them from the Bearcats a season ago.

This season, Jones said the team is not overlooking a single detail—from running off the field to playing the gaps and going through walkthroughs.

“We are going to throw away last year and look to be better this year,” Jones said.

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