Through two games of the regular season, Terrance Plummer didn't like what he saw from his defense.
While some adjustments were made, the biggest change for Plummer had to happen from within. In his head, he knew he had to flip the switch.
"I tried to put it all on my shoulders," Plummer said. "I'm the senior. I'm the Mike linebacker. I'm the guy that everybody looks to, and I have to take that responsibility, and the first two weeks I don't know if I did a good enough job."
At first glance, he might be right. Penn State had more than 450 yards passing against his unit, and Missouri was able to run through and around UCF tacklers en route to 38 points.
But on Saturday, Plummer was active early on from his middle linebacker position.
After he teamed up with cornerback Jordan Ozerities to bring down Bethune-Cookman quarterback Quentin Williams, he celebrated and danced off the field like he was a member of the marching band.
Later, he forced his first fumble of the season.
"For the rest of the season I am going to make sure I am that guy out there, and that I am the vocal leader that is bringing passion to the game," he said.
The effect of the added energy was evident from the first drive — even if it was against an FCS opponent.
A pass rush that was stuck in neutral through two games was flipped into overdrive as three linebackers — Plummer, Troy Gray and Chequan Burkett — turned up the heat, each notching sacks. A defense that struggled against the pass in its first game and the run in its second was stout in both aspects — albeit against an inferior opponent.
And these trends were spotted early in both of UCF's previous games. Plummer wasn't going to let that happen again.
"These last few games, we've been giving up touchdowns on the first drive and letting people drive the ball down [the field]," Plummer said. "We wanted to make a statement and go out there and set the tone early."
Penn State ran 10 plays on its opening possession and scored a touchdown. It only took Missouri seven plays to have the same result. However, on Saturday, the UCF defense hit on all cylinders to start the contest, and was off the field in four plays.
"It's always good to get a fast start," Ozerities said. "We were able to pin them deep a couple times. We got them in long first and second downs."
In its next game, the American Athletic Conference opener, UCF faces Houston, a team that has scored 23 first-quarter points through four games. The Cougars were billed to have a potent offense, but to this point they have struggled to find rhythm.
Sophomore quarterback John O'Korn is already more than halfway (6) to his interception total from last season (10).
Like Plummer, they will be looking to flip the switch.