The season is almost here, and the competition is ramping up quickly. Houston has plenty to fix on the defensive side of the ball, but Dana Holgorsen took the necessary steps to fix the issues. That gives fans plenty to watch this year. It’s tough to pick only a handful of players to watch, but these five guys are worth your time.
Jordan Moore/Grant Stuard
Both are competing for the starting nickelback position with different skillsets. Moore transferred to Houston from Texas A&M and is a former four star recruit with good speed and quickness. He’ll move from his originally projected safety position. Stuard brings versatility to the defense.
Last year, he thrived on special teams along with playing all over the place on defense. If he can show the necessary quickness to cover slot receivers, he’ll be a threat. Stuard’s already proven to be a fearless tackler and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the trenches either. Both players could see the field if the competition is high and neither can separate from the other. That should be the case, and Houston will have depth at the new position.
An injury cost him most of the 2018 season, but Chambers is ready to break out in 2019. The TCU transfer showcased his skills in just four games last year, producing 6.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The Cougars defensive line as a whole was depleted because of injuries to Chambers, Ed Oliver, Jerard Carter, and Payton Turner. That led to struggles up front, and led to Dana Holgorsen addressing the position in the offseason.
There will be a ton of competition on the defensive line, but Chambers shouldn’t have to worry. He’s an explosive players with the quickness to rush the passer, and the power to stop the run. We only caught a glimpse of his potential, and a healthy year could result in All-Conference honors.
Both cornerback positions are vacant, and the secondary needs a kick in the butt this year. Enter Williams, a junior college All-American. He gives the Cougars a ball-hawking corner who can secure one side of the field. His quickness helps him keep up with fast receivers, and he does well to stick to any route. Though we haven’t seen much of practice, it seems that Williams will secure one of the starting jobs right away. His game should elevate the secondary after a poor performance last season.
One of the players Dana Holgorsen brought in to fix a porous defensive line. Payne give the Cougars a strong interior defensive lineman with explosiveness (sound familiar). He’s not Ed Oliver, but Payne’s game resembles how Oliver played for the Cougars the last few years. His film showed that he can be an immediate impact players on the defense, but we’ll have to wait and see where he lands on the depth chart.
Houston’s inside linebackers made a ton of tackles last year, but both are gone. With the Cougars switching to Joe Cauthen’s 4-2-5 scheme, there are only two linebacker positions total. Edgeston comes from junior college and should win one of those two spots. He’ll give the defense a linebacker who can make plays in the backfield too.
Edgeston reads plays well, and hits the hole hard when he knows where to go. He doesn’t shy away from contact, and is a hard hitter when tackling the ball carrier. Houston needs a playmaker to lead the defense, and they found their guy in the JUCO transfer. As long as the men up front do their job, Edgeston can focus on making big plays instead of bailing his linemen out.