ORLANDO - There are just some players that a program cannot immediately replace, at least not one-for-one. That would be the situation for UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn as he must deal with yet another injury, this time to star defensive tackle Kalia Davis. He injured his knee late in the second quarter of the East Carolina game.
So far this season, Davis provided the UCF defense with 17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. The biggest factor for Davis being in the lineup would be how he impacted opposing teams’ blocking schemes. Davis would often be double teamed, allowing other players to create more impact plays.
Today’s edition of The Daily Knight takes a look at ways to alleviate the loss of Davis, with players and schemes being utilized. Here's the podcast discussing the loss of Davis and what comes next:
Defensive Linemen Must Step Up
Perhaps it will be through rotation, but the Knights need to find a way to use players in a fashion that their production at least comes close to what Davis produced. That’s not easy, but it’s the task at hand. With that in mind, the Knights need to find a player that can best offset the loss of Davis by himself even if that means altering the scheme (see in the next section).
At defensive end, a couple of names that will likely see increased playing time would be defensive ends Tre’mon Morris-Brash and Josh Celiscar. Both of them could take up the same repetitions that Anthony Montalvo did at defensive end, and Montalvo could then slide to defensive tackle and/or nose guard.
Continuing with big bodies, defensive tackle Keenan Hester needs to see more action moving forward, especially when the Knights go to a three-man defensive line. He’s a big man at 6’4”, 305 pounds.
There’s also the possibility of Cam Goode playing more, much like he did against Navy with defensive tackle Ricky Barber out of the lineup. He's been a valuable player for UCF this year, and could be starting the rest of the season now that Davis is permanently out of the lineup for 2021.
Depending on Barber’s status moving forward, he could also help out tremendously by returning against Cincinnati and any game thereafter. Much like Davis, cannot teach Barber’s size and athleticism.
Scheme Can Help the Defensive Line
Whether it’s the 3-3-5, 4-2-5, 3-4 or 4-3, UCF will likely be in exploratory mode with its defensive front this week. There will be some ideas heading into practice each day this week, but there’s nothing quite like working on the actual schemes in practice and allowing the players to battle it out for playing time.
The 3-3-5 is something UCF and many other teams have used this season, and it’s also something that could work with Montalvo playing the nose tackle in the lineup. Same with Barber.
In short, there are options. It’s a starting point to at least discuss the topic at this point. It will be interesting to see what UCF utilizes versus Cincinnati this Saturday.
For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. It will be found on iTunes and Spotify. For more UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!