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Quotes, Comments, and Thoughts Regarding UCF's Thursday Practice and Player Interviews

From UCF Football’s Thursday practice and interviews, which wide receivers will produce this fall, discussing how the running back position is progressing, and how the defense is being led by one particular unit.

It’s the middle of fall camp. The players are now in a groove and there’s some excitement building as the Knights will open their season in three weeks against Boise State (Sep. 2).

From Thursday, a few interesting topics came up. First, how the running back position is making sure the little things are taken care of.

Running Back Coaching Takes No Shortcuts

Some coaches go through major changes with how they coach and/or utilize drills. As for UCF Running Backs Coach Tim Harris, Jr., he’s very much a hands-on coach and really wanted to make sure each point was driven home even if he had to personally go and instruct a running back himself. 

While not in the video, at another juncture of the practice, Coach Harris went through exactly how he wants the quarterback and running back exchange to take place. No second guessing. Much like with the above blocking drill, it’s the exact nature of how the drill needs to be operated that proved to be consistent rep after rep with Coach Harris.

It became quite clear that some of the younger players started to feel more and more comfortable with what needed to be done, so the coaching did in fact take shape. While it may seem basic, these types of drills help teams win games. Too often a college football game comes down to simple execution of a handoff. UCF wants no part of joining that situation. At wide receiver, there is a different standard being set, and junior Ryan O’Keefe talked about his position group.

O’Keefe Likes the Talent at Wide Receiver

When listening to Ryan O’Keefe discuss the talent from the UCF roster, it was almost surreal. Sure, players will gush about their friends and provide the best positive news possible, but it was almost as if O’Keefe knew something that nobody else outside of the UCF practice fields did not. He elaborated a little bit with the following comments.

“I feel like from the start until right now, we are looking really good. Coach Gus (Malzahn) and Coach (Darrell) Wyatt stress just getting better a little bit every day. . . “I think we have the (wide receiver) talent to be the best not only in the (American Athletic) Conference, but one of the best in the nation.”

Considering the returning talent for the Knights, as well as adding talented transfers, there truly does not need to be any discussion about why UCF should possess a talented wide receiver core this upcoming season. The only real questions might be which wide receiver leads the team in touchdowns? There are certainly several candidates for that.

Also of interest, which transfer wide receiver makes the biggest splash at UCF? Those two questions will take their course this season and everyone will find out during the regular season. No debate about UCF’s overall wide receiver talent, however. It’s legit. As for linebacker, Tatum Bethune took a different approach for why he’s confident.

Defensive Line Getting it Done, Communication Improves

“I feel like our defensive line is very dominant,” Bethune said confidently. “That’s the biggest part of our defense. It starts up front, and like I said before, communication is just way better than last spring. Finally starting to understand the defense, I am starting to understand the defense so I am just excited.”

As for what’s different from last year, Bethune also made it very clear as to why the defense already improved since last season.

“The communication is very different. Back in the spring we didn’t really talk, we just did our job, but now it’s just we are all on the same page. The defensive line is talking, they are talking to us (linebackers), and we are talking to the defensive backs, so the more the communication the better it is.”

While Bethune proved to be very insightful beyond the two points above, keep in mind that those two points are huge. There were several times throughout the summer and early portions of fall camp where positive news about the defensive line came about, but hearing it from a linebacker holds more water than just rumors and guys talking.

The Knights will be a much different defense this fall, and it starts up front with the big fellas. That’s good to know. Also, Knights fans should be very excited that the defense continues to improve communication. That killed UCF last season. Mental breakdowns led to countless long yardage plays for opponents. With that area shored up, the UCF defense should really improve.

You will find me on Twitter @fbscout_Florida and @UCF_FanNation

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