UCF Knights at Florida Atlantic Owls Film Review: Defense tackles better, plays excellent coverage
Watching the UCF Knights during the first 10-plus minutes of the game against the Florida Atlantic Owls, a person might be shocked to learn the final score of 40-14. For the first stanza, UCF’s defense was dominated by
FAU. After that, a complete 180 took place. What happened? What happened?
“We had some things that we wanted to fix before halftime, but the main thing was fitting the run,” Williams admitted. There were things that didn’t work in the run. It’s okay to watch live. Because they’re doing it, we have to make this call. It was so simple .”
Now Coach Williams was high-energy and speaking with his hands. He loves discussing football x’s, o’s, and vice versa. This is the most important statement of the press conference. It’s the foundation of football.
“But the second half we tackled better.”
The Knights absolutely did. It changed chunk-yardage runs of over 10 yards to runs that ended up being shut down at the line of scrimmage, or no more than runs of two, three or four yards. This was the overall theme of the game film.
There will be grades for each defense level, but it is like watching two games at once. UCF fans should be pleased that in-game adjustments were so impactful.
Statistic to note: As noted in the game recap article, FAU had just 130 yards of offense in the final three-plus quarters. This outstanding defensive effort made the difference in the game in favor of the Knights.
It’s amazing to stop a team scoring when they drive to the 1-yard line. Talk about bowing at the right time!
Now, let’s move on to the defense. Let’s start with the men in the trenches.
Early in the contest, FAU was using double teams to gain a push at the point of attack. The Knights’ interior defenders didn’t do a good job of stopping them and it caused problems. There was also no one knifing in to cause penetration, either from the outside or the inside, and to disrupt the running plays. It was just as bad as it was on film, but that is not what you should be assuming.
This allowed Larry McCammon , Zuberi Moley , and other talented running backs to get a crease. Hitting the hole hard after seeing the running lane, the Owls accumulated 68 yards rushing between the two running backs during the first drive alone, including Mobley’s 15-yard touchdown run.
Afterwards, the Owls mounted another drive later in the first quarter that was at least similar. Although power funs were helpful in setting up passes, they were mostly physical and working with UCF’s defense line. It happened.
UCF’s defense linemen used their hands more effectively, moved their feet more efficiently, and executed at a higher level. It was like watching a light switch turn on. The defensive philosophy of
UCF also changed during the second quarter. It was now challenging FAU receivers and manning up. The goal was to stop the run by adopting an aggressive downhill mentality.
Maybe this is what UCF does best, and should be kept. They were more active and the defensive line performed better.
Of all the defensive linemen reviewed, none were outstanding from start to finish. However, Lee Hunter’s performance as a bench player showed that he can change games.
He was a force at the line of scrim in the run game and recorded the Knights’ only sack. You will see more of the redshirt freshman from Mobile (Ala.) against Georgia Tech.
This game is slightly better than the Knights’ average overall performance. UCF should improve moving forward.
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If the game was based on the first quarter effort, it was an F. It’s that simple. Poor run fits, poor tackling angles, and inability to quickly get off blocks were all that was evident.
The Knights looked as if they hadn’t seen Owl’s offensive plan. It is difficult to keep up with the number of missed run fits, just as an illustration.
Coach Williams said that UCF was able to manage run fits after making adjustments. Even before halftime, there were players who did better. This does not excuse the terrible tackling that occurred during FAU’s scoring drives and the first quarter.
While they weren’t spectacular, it was still a significant improvement on what was seen in quarters two, three, and four. Jason Johnson’s play was notable for his aggressiveness. He made plays near the line-of-scrimmage that kept FAU from being in long-yardage situations.
With Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste not in the lineup, perhaps that hurt the chemistry of the linebackers. The Knights did not perform well here, regardless of what it was. Although the effort improved over time, the Knights were unable to get off blocks or be sound with their tackling angles during the first quarter. It’s difficult to remember how the contest started.
Try to beat us. This was the motto of the defensive secondary. UCF used press-man coverage against at most one FAU receiver throughout the majority of the game. These battles were won by the Knights more often than not. It didn’t matter if it was Davonte brown Brandon Adams ,, or Corey Thornton who was covering bump coverage from the outside.
They set the tone.
It all started with the FAU receivers. They changed routes over and over again. This is the bottom line if your goal is to challenge receivers at line of Scrimmage. It worked, and FAU receivers were forced into trying to make contested catch for the entire game.
Watching UCF’s defensive backs compete with FAU, it became obvious that the Knights were simply faster. It was evident.
Thanks to all players who provided bump-and-run coverage throughout the evening. Nickelback/Knight Justin Hodges received the greatest props for his deflection at the end zone. To gain the pass breakup, he undercut the route and beat the receiver.
The safeties weren’t challenged down the field much, but they did have moments when they provided run support. They also helped to eliminate the Owls’ middle of the field passing game.
Overall, this was by far UCF’s best unit as they held FAU to 108 passing yards. Job well done. Although the handling could have been better, that’s just being picky.
Side note: UCF is now the No. 7 in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 119.7 yards passing per game.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.