Through four weeks of the 2022 season, Houston defensive end Derek Parish had been lighting up backfields to an unfathomable degree. However, the star pass rusher’s promising season officially concluded in the first half of the Cougars’ 34-27 victory over Rice last Saturday as he suffered a season-ending torn bicep.
Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen confirmed the news in his weekly Monday press conference. Parish will have surgery on his bicep this week.
“It makes me sick with the kind of year that he was having,” Holgorsen said. “Team captain. Just plays his tail off. Hadn’t been hurt since his freshman year in high school. Unfortunately he’s done.”
Prior to suffering the injury just seconds before halftime in Week 4, Parish was on a potential All-American pace. The senior ended his 2022 campaign tied for third in the nation in sacks by registering 5.0 through four games, and also tied for third in tackles for loss with 8.5 to his name. Parish won Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honors after his Week 2 performance against Texas Tech, which featured 4.5 sacks, 6.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 12 QB pressures, and a team-high 11 tackles.
“He’s pretty torn up about it,” Holgorsen said. “We need the next guy to step in and go. Atlias Bell who hasn’t been playing went in there towards the end of the game and played 10 to 15 snaps at defensive end and affected the quarterback on the last play of the game. Next guy in, let’s go to work.”
With the unit’s third leading tackler out for the foreseeable future, Holgorsen cited Bell as a likely long term solution to filling Parish’s vacancy. Other names the head coach suggested as potential replacements include defensive tackle Sedrick Williams and junior college transfer Nadame Tucker.
“We’re okay on the inside,” Holgorsen said addressing his defensive line depth. “We may just need to move some guys out to create a little bit more depth, and we’re rotating a lot of guys.”
Without Parish in the lineup, Houston’s talented defensive line still managed to manufacture the game-winning play against Rice. The Cougars recorded three fourth quarter sacks in the win, including back-to-back takedowns in the final five minutes by defensive end D’Anthony Jones. On the team’s final sack of the contest, Jones jarred the ball loose and defensive end Nelson Ceaser recovered for the go-ahead scoop-and-score.
Houston hopes that level of defensive line success translate into AAC play as it moves forward without its sack leader. The Cougars host Tulane on Friday night, the same opponent which absorbed eight sacks — seven from Houston defensive linemen — in last year’s October meeting.