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Against Boise State, UCF Football's Primary Defensive Responsibility will be Slowing Down Khalil Shakir

The best football player for the Boise State Broncos would be wide receiver Khalil Shakir. Here’s what UCF needs to do to slow down the talented playmaker.

Each game presents unique defensive challenges. Whether it’s stopping a team that utilizes a option rushing attack like Navy that makes a defense play assignment football, or a quarterback that spreads the football around to several receivers like Louisville’s Malik Cunningham, UCF’s defense will see many different offensive schemes and talented players this season. For Boise State, there’s a clear defensive directive.

Slow down wide receiver Khalil Shakir.

The senior wide receiver racked up 52 receptions for 719 yards and six touchdowns in a mere seven games last season. During the 2019 season in which Shakir played in 13 games, he accumulated 63 receptions for 872 yards and six touchdowns.

Here’s a closer look at two areas that UCF must do a really good job against a talented playmaker that otherwise could change the outcome of UCF’s first home football of the 2021 season.

Khalil Shakir

Khalil Shakir Celebrates a Touchdown

Khalil Shakir Celebrates a Touchdown

Vitals: 6’2”, 187-pounds

Position: Wide Receiver

High School: Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta

Class: Senior

Limit Yards After the Catch

Shakir should be considered one of the most dangerous wide receivers in all of college football after he gets his hands on the ball. Whether it’s racing down the field after the catch with pure speed, making a sharp cut to avoid a tackler, or using his wiry strength to fend off a defensive back, Shakir already proved he is a playmaker.

The Knights must do something that will be harped on all through fall camp -- wrap up and tackle -- to limit Shakir’s yardage total. Sounds simple, but one poorly attempted tackle and Shakir can exit stage left and be in the end zone.

Dynamic. That’s a good way to describe this young man. The Knights must rally to the football to make tackles. By doing so, the Knights will essentially be making other players defeat them. Boise State does not possess another wide receiver on Shakir’s level.

Know Where Shakir Lines Up and Adjust Accordingly

One of the ways Shakir made plays last fall would be running the football. He ran 17 times last fall. No doubt that the new Boise State coaching staff will do much of the same, albeit from different formations, to get their best player the football.

If Shakir goes in motion, a UCF defender that was lined up against Shakir must communicate with his teammates. Perhaps the Knights will play man defense for much of the evening, perhaps it will be zone, but regardless of the defensive play calling the Knights must communicate. Much like tackling, there cannot be any missteps.

Changing Coverages

There’s no one defense to stop a talented wide receiver like Shakir. He’s going to make some plays. That’s fine. By mixing coverages in the secondary, as well as changing how the UCF linebackers cover the flats and over the middle, UCF can confuse Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier and keep him from even throwing towards Shakir.

That’s the goal. Do not allow Shakir’s after-the-catch playmaking skills to go into high gear. Look for several different types of coverage from the Knights, and also expect to see them utilize different defenders on him to find the best matchup for UCF.

Final Thoughts

UCF probably has the better overall football team, but Boise State can win the Sep. 2 contest with UCF with big plays to Shakir. He’s capable of going for over 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns if the Knights fail to rally to the football, tackle well, and understand their defensive assignments. Let’s see how the Knights do against one of college football’s best wide receivers.

You will find me on Twitter @fbscout_Florida and @UCF_FanNation

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to my YouTube Channel, Podcast, and Instagram. Like and Subscribe!

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