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Houston Cougars Defensive Players to Watch vs. Red Raiders

The Cougars were a dominant defense for coach Dana Holgorsen last season

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are set to face the Houston Cougars of the American Athletic Conference for the fourth time in six seasons when they welcome the Cougars to Lubbock on Sept. 10 during Week 2 of the 2022-23 college football season.

The Red Raiders have won the last four meetings dating back to 2010, including a 38-21 win last season at NRG Stadium. But it's Houston who leads the all-time series 18-14-1 dating back to the days of the Missouri Valley and Southwest Conferences.

The Cougars were an impressive 12-2 last season with a perfect 8-0 record in conference play. They fell just short of an AAC championship after falling 35-20 to the Cincinnati Bearcats, who became the first non-Power 5 program to make the College Football Playoff in January. 

Houston boasted an elite defense last season led by some talented playmakers at all three levels.

The Cougars had an arguably better defense than Cincinnati, leading the conference in sacks (42), fewest yards allowed per game (298), and were second in fewest points allowed per game (21) as well as finishing third in total defensive interceptions (14).

Houston's rushing defense was nothing if not dominant. The Cougars allowed the fewest total rushing yards (1,385) and were the runaway leader in the fewest rushing yards allowed per game (106.5). 

Here at, we already went over a general preview of the Houston Cougars and offensive players to watch. Now, let's take a look at some key defensive players Tech should keep its eye on. 

LB Donavan Mutin

Mutin led the team in total tackles last season (77) while adding two sacks, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He had two forced fumbles in Houston's 31-24 overtime win over East Carolina, with the second one sealing the win for the Cougars.

As he prepares to lead the Houston defense as a fifth-year senior, the Red Raiders should be cautious of his ability to force timely turnovers while being an on-the-field leader as well.

DE Derek Parish

Parish had the fourth-most total tackles (54) and tallied five sacks last season, tied for third-most on the team. He didn't post eye-popping numbers, but his consistency through the season on a defensive line that led the conference in sacks is something that shouldn't be overlooked. 

CB Alex Hogan

Houston lost two major defensive backs to the NFL this offseason, as Marcus Jones was picked by the New England Patriots and Damarion Williams was selected by the Baltimore Ravens. 

But now, Hogan, a former Red Raider, has a chance to lead a Houston secondary, something he showed potential with last season. The Houston native had the third-most passes defended (six), 27 total tackles, and two picks. His first pick of the year resulted in a highlight-reel 91-yard pick-six that came as the clock ran out on the Cougars' dominant 44-7 win over the Rice Owls. As he heads into his second year with Houston, he'll look for some sweet revenge over his former team in Week 2. 

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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