What You Need To Know About The UCF Defense
– Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon’s move from the 3-4 to the 4-3 isn’t exactly coming at the right time. The 3-4 took advantage of the UCF speed – hello, Shaquem Griffin – while gumming things up with a slew of 300-pounders up front. 330-pound Trysten Hill is back on the nose, but the ends are gone. It’ll take a wee bit to come up with the right rotation on the front four to get the pass rushers to kick in on the outside, but expect Shannon to get creative.
– The linebackers – even without Griffin and second-leading tackler Chequan Burkett – will be fantastic. Pat Jasinski is a true middle linebacker who’ll get to play more like one now, and there’s good size in Titus Davis and several of the other options, and the quickness will be there, too.
The players seemed to take to the shift this spring. Now the linebackers will have to be just as active, but in a different way. There won’t be as much flying around in the backfield, but they’ll be dropping back a bit more.
– You don’t get better losing an NFL starting corner like Mike Hughes, but the secondary will be solid. Three starters return starting with safety Kyle Gibson, a solid pass defender who came up with an all-star season as an all-around playmaker. The defensive backs might have been roasted for 268 yards per game, but that’s because teams had to bomb away to try keeping up the pace. This is a good group with a world of upside – even if there isn’t another Hughes.
Biggest Key To The UCF Defense
The pass rushing defensive ends have to show up. The UCF pass rush was just okay, not amazing – it was far better in 2016.
Now, Shaquem Griffin and DE Jamiyus Pittman are gone after combining for 11.5 of the team’s 27 sacks – no one else did a whole lot to get to the quarterback. UCF has a bunch of bulky 3-4 ends, but without creating a few hybrid roles for some of the linebackers, there’s no sure-thing 4-3 DE in place who can crush an offensive gameplan. That’s what fall camp is for.