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Houston’s defense coming into its own


The Cougars’ defense forced the Commodores to four turnovers and only five completions. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar


There was a lot of hype about Vanderbilt University’s defense leading up to their match up against Houston.

Head coach Tom Herman went as far as to say that it would be an understatement to call them a challenge. But that clearly was not the case as the Cougar’s defense shut out the Commodores on national TV.

Houston’s gritty defense forced four turnovers against Vanderbilt with one fumble and three interceptions.

The three stars of the night on defense were junior outside linebacker Steven Taylor, senior safety Adrian McDonald and senior defensive back William Jackson III, who each had an interception in the game.

“We showed the world how aggressive we are and that we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Taylor said.

The Commodores were ranked 22nd in total defense, 16th in rush defense, 13th in scoring defense, third in third-down defense and fifth in red zone defense. But Houston not only exposed their defense by scoring 34 points on Vanderbilt, the most that they’ve allowed this season, they proved to have the superior defense, something Vanderbilt might’ve overlooked.

This Houston defense is finally coming into its own, allowing only 17 points in the last three games combined.

“I remember back in 2011, they could get a couple of stops and it would be okay,” senior running back Kenneth Farrow said. “Now they’re going out there and getting multiple turnovers. If they don’t get a turnover, it’s like, ‘what’s going on?’”

They’re not only stopping the opponents from scoring, they’re putting the offense in a good position to score. The first two interceptions against Vanderbilt were in the red zone and led to touchdowns.

“Our willingness to get the ball and execute our defense helps us get turnovers,” Taylor said. “It also helps our offense capitalize off of those turnovers. We run and make big plays.”

As Houston’s defense continues to progress it will be interesting to see how they hold up in the final stretch of the season with tough teams like Cincinnati, Memphis and Navy.

Houston held Vanderbilt to five completions out of 20 attempts and three interceptions with a total of 185 yards for their first shut out of the season.

“There’s definitely momentum, energy and competitiveness within the defense to make plays and create turnovers,” Taylor said. “We compete to get to the ball and make tackles, and if we have 11 guys trying to accomplish one goal, then we get good results.”

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