The Central Florida Knights are coming off a wildly successful 2013 season that was capped by a Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory over the heavily favored Baylor Bears. They will be looking to replicate their success in 2014 and will be leaning on a defense that is rich with returning talent to lead the way, especially as the offense finds new leaders at quarterback and running back. The key to Knights’ defense this fall will be linebacker Terrance Plummer, who should make an already strong UCF defense even tougher this season.
Plummer led the team in 2013 with 110 tackles from his linebacker position as he did a little bit of everything for the Knights on defense. He finished the year with 8.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups, and two forced fumbles as the leading disruptive force for the No. 3 scoring defense in the AAC last season. He leads a unit that returns eight starters this season who combined to hold the high-powered Baylor attack to 10 points under their season average on the biggest stage of the year.
This season, that defense will take center stage, particularly early on. UCF is trying to replace first-round NFL draftee Blake Bortles at quarterback and leading rusher Storm Johnson at running back. Filling the shoes of impact players like that is no easy task and will require some growing pains by whoever ends up stepping into those roles. With a season-opener against the Penn State Nittany Lions (in Ireland) followed by a road game against the defending SEC East champion Missouri Tigers, Central Florida won’t have time to deal with transition pains in 2014.
That puts the pressure on the defense to take their game to the next level led by Terrance Plummer at linebacker. An improved defense will allow a young offense time to mature while keeping the Knights in games and giving them opportunities to win. For UCF to maintain their high level of success, the defense and Plummer will have to lead the way.