Linebacker Donavan Mutin is the QB of the defense
There’s no other way to put it; Houston’s defense is cocky and they believe they have the right to be after a strong showing last season, albeit against less than stellar competition. They have not only nicknamed themselves the “Third Ward Defense”, but they have labeled their defensive line “Sack Avenue”.
But the reality is that, when they played either of the two good offenses that they faced last season, Texas Tech or Cincinnati, they were just another defense. Against Tech, they gave up 376 yards on just 52 plays. That works out to an average of around 7.2 yards per play…far from elite.
Meanwhile, in the ACC title game, they let the Bearcats amass 400 yards of offense, including 210 on the ground. Again, not impressive.
As for “Sack Avenue”, they did manage three sacks against Tech and four QB pressures. But there’s a huge difference this year; they won’t have a second-round NFL Draft pick leading the way as they did a season ago with Logan Hall who was taken No. 33 overall by Tampa Bay in this spring’s draft.
So while the defensive line is without a star like Hall or Ed Oliver, look for Donavan Mutin to be a key for the Cougars this Saturday. The middle LB is coming off of a 77-tackle season and had 11 stops against UTSA.
Always around the ball, last season he had three fumble recoveries and 6.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He is to the Cougars what Krishon Merriweather is to the Red Raiders, a very productive veteran in the middle of a green linebacking corps.
Even with Mutin in the fold though, this is a Houston defense that can be had. They gave up 441 yards to UTSA in the opener, including 337 through the air. So don’t buy the hype that comes with Houston being ranked No. 6 in total defense last year…they played nobody outside of Tech and Cincy, and don’t let the nicknames fool you. This is just another run-of-the-mill college defense, one that Tech should be able to exploit.