ORLANDO - The following players did well enough during the first two weeks of the season to believe that there’s a chance to really raise their play during the Louisville game.
All three of these young men can really run, have experience as a starter, and should be familiar with the defensive scheme. It’s now up to each defensive player listed below to go out against Louisville and make it happen. Here’s a video defining each of the three players:
Of all the possible players, one could argue that Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste would be the most important against Louisville. He will be a part of two prime initiatives: stop the run and slow down the quarterback.
His 6’2” 230 pound frame will allow him to play in the box and defend against Louisville’s stretch zone from inside out. That’s Louisville’s go-to play, and Jean-Baptiste will need to disrupt those plays with that size, as well as his athleticism.
Through two games, Jean-Baptiste had one really productive contest against Boise State, and then did not play as much against Bethune-Cookman because the Knights extended the lead very quickly. Against Louisville, Jean-Baptiste will be a part of a key component of stopping the Cardinals.
He’s the biggest inside linebacker, and he’s also a player that runs very well. That means that regardless of where Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham goes, Jean-Baptiste possesses the physical skills to catch and tackle him.
Cunningham is the reason Louisville can be explosive on offense. Making sure that he’s corralled from the outset of the game will be a major priority for the Knights, Jean-Baptiste included.
Jean-Baptiste needs to reach five to seven tackles, at minimum, versus the Cardinals. Hopefully many of them will be near the line of scrimmage with Cunningham being the ball carrier. After his good performance versus Boise State, Jean-Baptiste can now solidify himself as a stalwart for the Knights with a great game against Louisville.
Big Kat Bryant needs to find his way to the quarterback, plain and simple. This is not a situation where there’s anything fancy. Bryant missed two sacks versus Bethune-Cookman, and probably should have brought down Hank Bachmeier from Boise State at least one time as well.
Sacks will be a priority, but they are not as likely unless Bryant and the defensive line do something else first. That would be holding the edge and keeping Cunningham in the pocket.
It’s now just up to Bryant to go out and get the job done. He’s a phenomenal athlete. Time to go prove it after being close the past two games.
The cornerbacks that rarely receive any attention because they do their job and keep opposing wide receivers away from the football. Davonte Brown has been solid through two games, but now it’s time to start making more plays.
After registering seven tackles and two passes broken up, he's a player on the rise. He's still not where he needs to be as a sophomore cornerback, and there will be obstacles ahead.
Brown will certainly be challenged in a variety of ways. The Cardinals are likely to call some deep passes, as well as go after the secondary with a variety of screens and short passes that provide talented athletes a chance to make plays after the catch. That’s not all Louisville will do to keep the Knights and Brown off balance.
Louisville will be using different formations and shifts in an attempt to keep the UCF secondary off balance. Brown needs to help his teammates stay in the right positions while also being a standout one-on-one cornerback. Difficult, yes, but this is FBS football. The Knights are counting on Brown’s performance to help make it difficult for Louisville to create explosive plays, as well as be active with the rush defense.
Statistic to Watch: When it comes to national third down conversion rankings, Louisville is No. 94 at 34.5%. That’s a poor number. It’s also why the aforementioned players were picked. Each of them will play a vital role towards keeping Louisville’s offense on the sideline by doing their jobs.