So Malzahn shook up his coaching staff by replacing his offensive and defensive coordinators.
He brought in longtime defensive assistant Ted Roof to run his defense and welcomed back Tim Harris Jr. as offensive coordinator and receivers coach.
“We went 6-7 and that’s unacceptable,” said Malzahn. “We’ve made some changes that I feel really good about moving forward.”
“We were at Auburn together and we won a national championship together,” Malzahn said.
Defensive lineman Ricky Barber met with his new coordinator and is eager to prepare for this upcoming season.
“I realize he’s a football guy, he knows football and he’s been to a lot of great places,” said Barber. “It’s my job as a player to make sure I’m in the best shape as possible and to be able to fit into his scheme.”
Harris spent two seasons on Malzahn’s staff at UCF from 2021-22 and returns to the Knights after spending last season as the running backs coach with the Miami Hurricanes.
“Tim is a guy that knows me well and knows our offense well,” said Malzahn. “He is one of the best teachers and coaches I’ve been around, and I am excited to bring him back with everything he has to offer.”
Addison Williams, who served as UCF’s defensive coordinator last season, will become the associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator in charge of the secondary. Darin Hinshaw, who served as the Knights’ offensive coordinator, will transition to co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
But personnel isn’t the only change that Malzahn is making this offseason.
The 58-year-old coach is resuming offensive play-calling duties with the help of Harris and Hinshaw.
It’s a complete reversal from his vow last spring that he was turning over play-calling duties to Hinshaw, and apparently it was a short-lived commitment as well.
“My job is to do whatever’s best for our team to win and be successful,” Malzahn explained. “About halfway through last year, I felt I needed to be much more involved. That’s my job; that’s what I’m doing, and we will operate differently next year.
“Tim will be a big help and Darin will still have influence. We threw the ball down the field really well compared to what we did the year before, and you look at what he did with [quarterback] John Rhys Plumlee, and his expertise is quarterback, so I feel really good about moving forward. But I’ll be the point person.”
UCF finished eighth in the nation in total offense (487 yards per game) and 41st in scoring offense (31 points).
In the previous two seasons under Malzahn’s guidance, the offense finished ranked No. 16 (2022) and No. 66 (2021) in total offense. But the Knights were among the top teams in rushing, ranked 28th (2021), ninth (2022) and fourth (2023).
RJ Harvey became the first UCF running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Greg McCrae in 2018 after totaling 1,416 yards and his return, along with that of receiver Kobe Hudson (900 yards), gives Malzahn plenty to work with this upcoming season.
Malzahn also brought another familiar face to his coaching staff, adding Trovon Reed as the Knights’ new cornerbacks coach. He replaced David Gibbs, who left after two seasons to join the Illinois coaching staff.
Reed spent the past three seasons at Auburn, where he was the director of football and recruiting relations. He played for the Tigers and was on the team with Malzahn when they won the national championship in 2010.
“Anytime you don’t meet expectations, you go back with people that you’re familiar with, that you’ve won together with,” Malzahn said of the hires. “You know exactly what you’re getting and how they’re thinking.”