Positional outlook: With key players returning, defensive line primed for breakout
Many football games are won in the trenches, where the big uglies use leverage and skill to move humans who are often twice the normal size.
For UH, its defensive line’s improvement made an impact on a three-game turnaround that set up a bowl appearance. The unit, though small for the American Athletic Conference, was able to make plays despite struggling to stop the run. Eleven of the Cougars’ 13 opponents rushed for 100 yards or more.
Key Returners to the defensive line — Rush ends Tyus Bowser and Trevor Harris made explosive plays in spurts. Harris led the defensive line with 49 tackles while Bowser led all-conference freshmen in sacks. On the inside, Joey Mbu and Tommie Mark became consistent contributors with B.J. Singleton and Jeremiah Farley rounding out a solid unit.
Key losses to the defensive line — Former Rush end Eric Eiland is transitioning to safety this offseason.
Potential breakout performer — Rush end Tyus Bowser showed flash as a freshman, including two sacks and an interception that helped secure a win against rival Rice. He led the team in quarterback hurries with 11 and tied a UH freshman record with 4.5 sacks. Whether or not he can become the force UH needs remains unanswered.