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The Daily Knight: UCF Defense Comes Up Big Against East Carolina

UCF defense stymied East Carolina, as the Knights made numerous key plays to help preserve the victory.
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ORLANDO - Did anyone really believe that UCF would record four sacks against the Pirates? How about defensive tackle Anthony Montalvo causing East Carolina star running back Keaton Mitchell to fumble during the first possession of the game, creating an opportunity for defensive end Josh Celiscar to recover the fumble?

Critical moments, excellent results. That’s what the UCF defense was all about on Saturday night in the Bounce House.

First off, hats off to the UCF defensive coaching staff. They were under fire after the last two games. They rallied the troops and the performance showed. UCF defensive players played inspired football. That’s a great sign. Now, a couple of notes before the actual podcast below.

Knights Play Team Defense

The phrase “rally to the football” is commonly used throughout professional, college and high school football. It was on display in the Bounce House against East Carolina, as the Knights held Mitchell to just 65 yards rushing from 17 carries, a 3.8 average.

If UCF continues to play that type of defense, there’s no reason that UCF will not be in every game the rest of the season. The Knights also did a much better job versus the pass.

Sacks, Finally

By recording four sacks, the Knights hit their high water mark for the year. It’s been tough getting to the quarterback and actually bringing him down this season, but UCF came through against East Carolina.

The following players recorded sacks: defensive end Big Kat Bryant, Celiscar, defensive tackle Keenan Hester, and linebacker Tatum Bethune.

Most notably, the Knights did a solid job of keeping Holton Ahlers contained in the pocket and closing in on him. During the play where Hester recorded his sack, he looped around during a stunt. Ahlers saw Hester coming. The problem for Ahlers would be no place to go. The backside was not available to escape, and Ahlers was flung to the ground by Hester.

UCF contained the quarterback for much of the evening, like with the play Hester recorded his sack, and it paid off for the entire unit.

Injury Bug Strikes Again

Late in the second quarter, UCF defensive tackle Kalia Davis went out of the lineup with what UCF Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn later called “A knee injury.” Nothing is known yet, but it’s hard to lose a great player like that for any amount of time, especially with nationally ranked Cincinnati being the next opponent, on the road no less.

Despite that fact, UCF still played well against East Carolina in the second half, and that’s something the Knights will need to do the rest of the 2021 season. Now, here’s today’s podcast of The Daily Knight, which goes into more detail about each section above, and especially the injury to Davis:

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