A look at UH’s strongest position groups

Derek Parish with a scoop and score / Photo by Mario Puente

Which position group are you most confident in this year?

 
Brad Towns (Former UH athlete): Cornerback – Marcus Jones is a certified badass and pretty good corner on top of it. And I’d say Damarion Williams isn’t too far behind.  I wouldn’t consider these guys the prototype ‘lockdown corner’ but they are tough 1-on-1 and give receivers no breathing room. 

Ryan Monceaux: Defensive Line – DL coach Brian Early is excited about the talent he’s got upfront. Derek Parish has assumed a leadership position and should be a force on the outside. Parish has transformed his body and has looked more agile in the parts of preseason camp the media has been allowed to attend. After a dominant spring and a great preseason camp, Parish is poised to be the leader up front.

Towns: As solid as Jones and Williams have been, they are in the same boat. They’ve got to take that next step.

The defense lost two key players to the NFL last year in Grant Stuard and Payton Turner.  Stuard was the leader of the defense in emotion and production.  He led the team with 61 tackles and five tackles for loss.  The top returner in tackles was safety Thabo Mwaniki with 33.  Turner led the team in TFL and sacks and was a one-man wrecking crew on the defensive line.  UH has the players to step up but it will take time.

That is where the play of Jones and Williams becomes vital.  Their cover ability will give the defensive front a little more time to get a push to the QB.  That extra tick should help to get the big guys loose and give first-time DC Doug Belk the opportunity to utilize a more robust blitz package.

Damarion Williams breaks up the pass / Photo by Mario Puente

 
Monceaux: How can you not be excited about the defense this year?

Parish started at the bandit spot in the second half of 2020 when Payton Turner was out due to injury. The bandit requires a unique skill set; he’s a hybrid outside linebacker that plays up, who can rush off the edge and can also drop to play in coverage.

Parish started at the bandit spot in the second half of 2020 when Payton Turner was out due to injury. The bandit requires a unique skill set; he’s a hybrid outside linebacker that plays up, who can rush off the edge and can also drop to play in coverage.

Parish does not have Payton Turner’s incredible length but he might be a half step faster. What he does have is the versatility needed for the position. Early also expects Nelson Ceaser to get a lot of snaps at bandit and believes he is the most improved player on the team.

Logan Hall has started 10 of the last 13 games at the DT/3-technique and is all but set to be there all year. David Anenih and D’Anthony Jones will get the majority of snaps at DE. Early is also high on Garfield Lawrence, the true freshman that had at least eight P5 offers.

But more than any individual, depth on the line is going to be the difference-maker this year. Early says that he has two waves of starters and that the talent does not drop off between the first and second teams.
 
GoCoogs 2021 Season Preview


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