ORLANDO – Spring Ball can help a very talented player take his game to an additional level. That’s what the UCF coaching staff is certainly hoping for with many players, and this young man is at or near the top of that list.
His time has come. Making tackles in the backfield while being the center of attention of the opposing offense’s blocking scheme, creating a huge sack during the final moments of the game, and chasing down a running back for no gain during a screen pass that originally looked like a big play was about to happen.
For UCF’s defense to rise up to the a next level, this player needs to dominate even when the squad across the line of scrimmage notes where he’s at before each snap of the football. He proved what he could do during the majority of the 2021 season and now it’s time to make that happen for a full season and a bowl game. How this young man elevates his game during spring is vital for UCF’s 2022 won-loss record and overall success.
Size: 6’2”, 245-pounds
Position: Defensive End
Morris-Brash played in 11 games in 2021. He recorded 23 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, one interception, and one pass breakup. Keep in mind, he was rotating with Josh Celiscar last season. Morris-Brash will see far more snaps this year and that should help him vastly improve his play and statistics in 2022. The overall number of snaps needs to be complemented with mental and physical preparation, however, and that’s where the first category begins.
Is Morris-Brash Ready for Extended Minutes?
This basic question might seem redundant, right? Well, some players simply do better when their snaps are lower and they do not exhaust as much energy during a game. There’s no true reason to think Morris-Brash will not continue to be effective when playing an additional 15-25 snaps a game compared to 2021, but he does need to properly prepare to make that happen.
Every single thing he does in terms of nutrition, cardio work, and in the weight room will impact his performance this fall. When the workload goes up, so too should the intensity of preparation. That also extends into another area of preparation that’s quite frankly not discussed enough in college football circles.
The Film Room
Teams are going to attempt to take Morris-Brash out of the game with different tactics like chipping him with a running back (a bump as he leaves the backfield), using a tight end to double team Morris-Brash, and rolling the pocket away from him. That’s reality. He must then maximize his chances to rush the passer and be an overall dominant defender with knowing what to expect from each team UCF plays.
It’s film work. It’s redundant and not necessarily the most fun, but it’s what elite players have done for decades to take their games to another level. Morris-Brash is no different. His effort in front of the computer or in the film room must be elite. He can do that all spring long and take it to the practice field, too.
Spring Practice Reps
Going up against offensive lineman like UCF’s own Samuel Jackson is not easy. It’s also a chance to use that time in the film room to test Morris-Brash’s knowledge. During one-on-one work, it’s the very technical aspects of the game that Morris-Brash must understand what his teammates, like Jackson, do in pass sets. That’s the best way to translate the game of football from spring to the fall when the games are live and everyone keeps score.
Whether it’s a certain way that Jackson kick steps, or a certain hand technique that he prefers to use, it’s excellent practice for this fall. It’s the same thing he will do to prepare for an offensive tackle for any UCF team goes against next fall. Every rep counts as it’s part of a defensive end’s own mental library of how to be an effective pass rusher and run defender.
The more that Morris-Brash learns how to take information from the film room to the practice field, then put it to good use in practice, the more likely he will be to dominate this fall for UCF against teams like Louisiville and Cincinnati. One more item to detail about Morris-Brash.
Truly elite edge rushers have a mentality of “I will not be stopped.” Throughout the history of college and NFL football, there have been countless players that were extremely athletic and still quite mediocre. Preparation, as noted above, is often the culprit for why they did not come close to reaching their vast potential. Attitude, as well, often leaves a player short of his highest potential. The latter is what this category is all about.
How bad does Morris-Brash want to be great? That’s 100% on the player. He’s proven that when he’s dialed in that he’s a game-wrecker. Against SMU, Connecticut and USF, Morris-Brash combined for six tackles for loss in just three games. He also had two sacks during that three-game span. The sample size is not huge, but it’s still true. Now, can he lock in and be “that dude” and take his game to the highest level?
Morris-Brash has the ability to be an NFL edge rusher because he’s a very physically talented player. How well he’s uplifting his play this spring with the categories mentioned above will help to determine just how far his game goes for the Knights and potentially the NFL.
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Morris-Brash is the edge defender that the UCF defense needs to take a big step forward and be a double-digit sack defender, or at least be close. He’s able based on his play to date, and his experience and increased minutes should allow him to have a huge 2022 season. That all starts with how Morris-Brash prepares during spring practice.
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