Travis Williams

UCF

Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach

Conference: American Athletic

Coach Stats

Why should this nominee be considered for the Broyles Award?
After improving the UCF defense 70 spots in total defense in his first season, defensive coordinator Travis Williams has picked up where he left off in his second season with the Knights’ defense ranked 16th nationally in scoring defense (18.8). The Knights lead the country in red zone defense, limiting opponents to a 61% clip. Opponents have scored on 22 of their 36 attempts against UCF in the red zone and the defense has only allowed 12 touchdowns in the red zone. The Knights have forced at least one red zone stop in seven of their nine games this season.

Additionally, UCF has only allowed an opponent to score more than 21 points in a game three times this season and no opponent has scored more than 21 points against UCF at home.  Thanks to strong play on the defensive end, UCF has recorded two ranked wins in the same season for the first time in program history following the wins against No. 20 Cincinnati and No. 17 Tulane.

In the win against Cincinnati, UCF held the Bearcats to just 35 rushing yards for the game, which is the fewest for Cincinnati since 2016 and that total is also the fewest the Knights have allowed since 2016. The Knights defense forced two turnovers against the Green Wave to pick up their first ranked road win since 2013.

UCF has been stout on fourth down conversion defense, as opponents have only converted six of their 21 attempts for a 28.6% conversion rate. The Knights 200 points allowed on defense are the second fewest in the American Athletic Conference and among the nation’s best. In particular, the UCF defense has been at its best in the second half of games to help the Knights outscore opponents, 185-92. 
Coach's Past Performance
UCF won six of its final seven games to close the 2021 season (finished off by a victory over Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl)—with Williams’ defense permitting only 11.8 points per game in those six combined victories. The Knights averaged 8.1 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks in those six games—and finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in pass efficiency defense (110.73) and 26th in tackles for loss (6.8 per game).   Among Williams’ most successful pupils was linebacker Tatum Bethune, who paced the Knights in tackles with 108 (his 9.0 average per game ranked second in the conference and 24th nationally). He earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors from Pro Football Network, second-team selection by Pro Football Focus and honorable mention notice in All-AAC voting by the league coaches. Linebacker Bryson Armstrong led the team in tackles until a late-season injury—but he still finished with 77 stops, helping him earn fourth-team All-AAC recognition from Phil Steele.   Other UCF defenders meriting All-AAC postseason recognition by vote of the league’s coaches were end Big Kat Bryant (first team), safety Divaad Wilson (second team) and Bethune (honorable mention). PFF also saluted safety Quadric Bullard (second team), cornerbacks Davonte Brown and Corey Thornton and Wilson (all third team)—plus end Tre’mon Morris-Brash. Phil Steele feted Bryant (first team), Wilson and Bullard (both fourth team). PFN also selected Bryant on its first team, plus naming him AAC Newcomer of the Year and AAC Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Prior to joining the staff at UCF, Williams spent five seasons as linebackers coach under Gus Malzahn at Auburn. During those five seasons, the Tigers ranked fifth nationally in the NCAA FBS, allowing only 54 rushing TDs (eight in 2016, nine in 2018). 

Team Record and Standings
Following Saturday’s win at No. 17 Tulane, UCF is tied for first in the American Athletic Conference standings with an 8-2 overall record and a 5-1 mark in league play. Thanks to wins against No. 20 Cincinnati and the Green Wave, UCF controls its own destiny in regard to winning the regular-season title and hosting the conference championship.
Team/Unit Stats
UCF is one of just two American Athletic Conference teams to rank among the top five in total, rushing, passing and scoring defense. The Knights’ total defense is third in the conference (360.6), rushing defense is 27th nationally and second in the conference at 119.6, scoring defense is 16th in the nation at 18.8 and passing defense is fifth in the league at 241.0. UCF’s red zone defense ranks No. 1 nationally at 61%.

Additionally, UCF’s team passing efficiency defense is 22nd in the country at 117.56.

Individual Player Stats
Under Williams’ direction, senior linebacker Jason Johnson is second in the American Athletic Conference with 83 tackles, which ranks among the nation’s best. Johnson is also second in the league and 25th nationally in tackles per game with 9.2. Johnson is also the AAC active career leader in tackles with 326.

Senior outside linebacker Tre’mon Morris-Brash is sixth in the conference with 6.0 sacks and tied for second in fumble recoveries with two. Despite missing two games this season due to injury, linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste is among the conference’s top tacklers with 45.

Redshirt senior safety Divaad Wilson is tied for the league lead with three interceptions.