The Maryland football team faced a relatively easy task in their win over Towson.
Now the Terrapins will take on a much more talented Central Florida defense in their third game.
It’s been well documented that there isn’t a ton of tape to look at in terms of the Knights in general. Central Florida cruised past Florida International 61-17 back on Aug. 31 and their defense looked strong.
The Knights currently are ranked as the fourth-best defense in the American Athletic Conference. They surrendered 335 total yards against the Golden Panthers and 5.9 yards-per-play.
Central Florida also forced a safety in their lone game, which shows how dominant the front seven can be at the point attack.
Let’s take a look at what playmakers the Knights have in tow on the defensive side of the ball.
The Central Florida defense all starts with star linebacker Shaquem Griffin.
For Griffin, it’s a long road to achieve success and what he’s done is nothing short of impressive.
When he was just four years old, Griffin had his left hand amputated due to a congenital disorder. Even with facing that kind of adversity, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) native excelled in his first season as a full-time starter for the Knights.
Griffin registered 92 tackles (57 solo), 11.5 sacks, 20 tackles-for-loss, seven pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in 2016. His stellar performance earned him AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors along with being named to the conference’s First Team.
His 11.5 sacks were good for 12th in the entire nation and were the sixth-most in Central Florida history.
Griffin lines up at outside linebacker, but is absolutely ferocious when getting to the quarterback. He has incredible speed off the edge and is very physical at the point of attack.
Griffin is the type of pass rusher that opposing teams need to account for on every play. Once he gets a quarterback or skill player in his grasp, he’s definitely not letting them get away.
Maryland’s offensive line has played well early on this season, but this is going to be a true test.
Linebacker Chequan Burkett has been an impact player since arriving at Central Florida.
Burkett is coming off a season in which he registered 38 tackles (20 solo), 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and three defended passes.
The Alabama native isn’t exactly a high-volume tackler, but he’s a guy that can make an impact. He does still have a nose for the football and is one of the leaders of the Knights’ front seven.
Burkett registered five tackles (two solo) in Central Florida’s win against Florida International. That certainly wasn’t an apparition as he’s played well against several high-profile opponents over his career.
The senior redshirt linebacker recorded a season-high nine tackles (one for loss) and a pass break up against Michigan last year. Ironically, that game came right before Central Florida faced Maryland where Burkett had just three tackles.
For a linebacker, Burkett excels in pass coverage. Obviously, the Terps don’t use the tight end a ton, so he may not be able to showcase that attribute too much on Saturday.
Still, this is a guy that Maryland is also going to have to keep away from their ball carriers.