A Closer Look at the UCF Defense Versus the Bethune-Cookman Offense

The Knights played solid defense for much of the game against Boise State. Now the question becomes, can the Knights add sacks and turnovers to their resume in week two?
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Straight to the point, UCF needs to create more havoc during their second game of the season. Will UCF be able to manufacture sacks and turnovers? That’s simply what needs to be done.

Bethune-Cookman provides an opponent that will attempt to beat UCF with quickness and speed. The Knights will be able to match that speed and also possess really good size to go against Bethune-Cookman’s offensive line. The UCF defense should have a really good game. Here’s a look at the Knights defense heading into the second week of the college football season.

If the Knights can significantly reduce the number of 10-plus yard passing plays, the defense will shine.

If the Knights can significantly reduce the number of 10-plus yard passing plays, the defense will shine.

Bethune-Cookman Statistics to Know

**The Wildcats managed to gain 333 total yards, including 215 yards from passing and 118 yards from rushing.

**Third downs were an issue, as Bethune-Cookman managed only two third down conversions out of eight.

**Going along with the third down issues, it also impacted time of possession. The Wildcats only held onto the football for 24:26.

**An undisciplined team, Bethune-Cookman committed a total of 13 penalties.

The Wildcats Operate a Similar Offensive Scheme to UCF

There will be times when Bethune-Cookman operates with tempo. A shotgun offense with one running back, the Wildcats utilize very similar concepts as several other programs around the country. Think of UCF, Florida State, Clemson and Ohio State as some examples.

The inside zone will be important for the Wildcats. If they get the running game going, quarterback Shannon Patrick provides a smooth over-the-top throwing motion that usually hits its mark. He’s a classic passer; do not look for him to take off and run all that often.

Bethune-Cookman Players to Watch

Beyond Patrick, two running backs will play -- Aaron Thompson and Que’Shuan Byrd -- that will look to make UCF defenders miss more than run over a defender. Byrd racked up 98 yards on the ground and one touchdown against UTEP.

At tight end, there’s a unique player in terms of size, and that would be Kemari Averett. He’s 6’6”, 260 pounds and caught a touchdown versus UTEP last weekend.

The wide receiver to watch would be Marcus Riley. He’s another small and shifty player. UCF defensive players need to be ready to break down and make form tackles. This is a really quick group of Bethune-Cookman skill position players.

Up front, the Wildcats offensive line has some size, especially one player. Right tackle Jordon Carty comes in at 6’7”, 325-pounds. Watching him on film, that number might be light of Carty’s true weight. He can move, too.

What to Expect from UCF’s Rushing Defense

This is where the game will be decided. The Knights stymied the Broncos last weekend, holding them to 20 yards rushing from 26 carries. Considering that Bethune-Cookman is not a dominant running team, much like Boise State, there’s ample reason to believe the Knights will control the line of scrimmage. A few areas to watch in reference to how the Wildcats might attempt to throw UCF off balance.

Look for some misdirection, especially early in the game, in an attempt to get players like Big Kat Bryant, Kalia Davis, Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste and the rest of the front seven over running the football. That’s a way that the Wildcats could gash the Knights defensive front.

Kalia Davis and Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste celebrate

Kalia Davis and Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste celebrate versus Boise State

Conversely, one should not expect the UCF defensive front seven to be pushed around. It’s a really good front seven, and it’s going to improve as the players feel more and more comfortable with the scheme from Defensive Coordinator Travis Williams.

Player that will be in the middle of the action: Because Bethune-Cookman will probably attack the edges of the defense, look for Bryson Armstrong to be involved in many plays. He recorded six tackles in his first game as a Knight, and the Wildcats will be more likely to challenge him as he plays the hybrid linebacker position just outside the tackle box. He has a chance to record double digit tackles.

Armstrong (#30) will be in the thick of the action versus Bethune-Cookman

Armstrong (#30) will be in the thick of the action versus Bethune-Cookman

UCF Passing Defense Could Provide Much Needed Turnovers

Bethune-Cookman is not likely to be able to pass protect well against the likes of Kalia Davis and each of the other defensive lineman that play this Saturday. Therefore, there’s going to be less time for Patrick to throw the football.

Perhaps Patrick will take a few chances and the UCF defense will gain a couple of interceptions. It’s not uncommon for pass rush pressure to create opportunities to pick off passes that never should have been thrown.

Pick to Click: Last week it was UCF safety Quadric Bullard that led the defense with nine total tackles. This week, look for UCF safety Divaad Wilson to be in line for at least a half dozen tackles, and least one shot at an interception as well. 

There’s bound to be a few overthrows as Patrick attempts to just get rid of the football while he’s under duress from the UCF defensive line. Let’s see if Wilson gets his first interception of the 2021 season against Bethune-Cookman. 

Defensive Questions to be Answered

**Can the Knights truly take away the Wildcats rushing attack from the outset of the game? If yes, this game could turn ugly. One-dimensional offenses will struggle to pass protect against UCF’s pass rushers.

**How many passes do the members of the secondary place their hands on? It’s time for the pass defense to improve, and Bethune-Cookman is a great opportunity.

**As noted several times already this week, tackling was not good during the early portion of the Boise State game. Will the UCF defense make good one-on-one tackles?

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