The UCF Knights seem to have everything it takes to be great. With an experienced head coach, a decent shot-caller at the quarterback position, a talented group of receivers and an athletic defense, there’s no reason the team should be anywhere near winless. But winless is exactly what they are as they suffered they’re sixth loss of the season on Saturday against the UConn Huskies.
Only the second annual game between these two teams, the rivalry at hand is young but intense. Last year in the Conflict, as it has become known, the Huskies overcame the Knights in a close one 37-29. It only gets worse for UCF, however, as they were defeated 40-13 in this year’s Conflict.
Starting quarterback Justin Holman returned on Saturday after missing three and a half games with a broken finger. Holman threw only four interceptions last year and lead the Knights to a 9-3 record, but this year has proved to be one of the worst in UCF’s history.
Holman went up against a strong defense that is known for taking the ball away, and coughing up the football has been UCF’s specialty thus far in the season. The junior turned the ball over three times, which almost reached his total amount of turnovers from last season. Holman finished the game completing 27 out of 50 passes with 255 yards and touchdown (not to mention the three picks). Not all the blame falls on Holman’s shoulders, however.
Running back C.J. Jones has been nonexistent lately, maybe even invisible. He finished this game with 44 yards on seven carries which does not meet the ground and pound expectation for the team. UCF has been known over the years to run, run, and run some more and pound it into the end zone. But this year, it’s just not happening.
However, with all that said, there remains one glimmer of hope on offense, one last chance to win football games: the receiving core. With receivers like Nick Patti, Michael Willet, and Jordan Franks, the Knights possess the talent to have a strong passing game. The only thing holding them back is the quarterback- whether it be Justin Holman, Bo Schneider or Tyler Harris. While some of the blame is attributed to the coaching staff, the players are not executing properly.
But don’t go just yet UCF fans, because believe it or not, there’s more! The depleted defense is the reason these games are beginning to get out of hand. Multiple teams have run up the score on this defense throughout the year and this week, it was unacceptable. UConn put up 40 in this blowout and made it look easy— breaking arm tackles, finding open spots in the defense, and taking their time in the pocket. Quarterback Bryant Shirreffs had himself a game going 16/22 with 256 yards and a touchdown. The Huskies’ running game also manhandled the UCF defense with star back Arkeel Newsome having a monster game with 84 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.
As for the UCF coaching staff, let’s just say that George O’Leary might not be calling Orlando home next year.
Next on the schedule for UCF is undefeated Temple in Philadelphia:
Prediction for UCF @ Temple: UCF can be enlightened. UCF can bring in star players. UCF can feel the power of God move them! However, not even the curse of Lil B on Temple can give them the win on Saturday. Temple is undefeated, beating teams like Penn State, Cincinnati, and Tulane, who UCF lost to last week. Their high scoring offense will prove to be too much for UCF’s lackadaisical defense in this one.
Final Score: UCF 6 TEMP 35