It’s been made clear this year that the Central Florida Knights are playing subpar, to say the least. The team has not looked like itself this year after going 9-3 last year and winning the Fiesta Bowl just two years ago. However, the concern for the team is actually bigger than most thought.
Any team can rebuild, reload. But one thing about a team that is difficult to mend is the attitude. Throughout the year, UCF has lost games, sure, but never given up. They continuously tried to make something happen even if it would not affect the outcome of the game. This past Saturday against Houston, it looks like they’ve finally thrown in the towel.
As #21 Houston routed the Knights, the team began to lose hope, pointing to a bigger problem- the loss of hope in head coach George O’Leary.
With players not attempting tackles, running lazy routes, and running a poorly executed offense, O’Leary is most likely out the door at the end of the year.
They had a good reason to give up, however. UCF didn’t score in the second half and were pounded 59-10. Houston’s running game was electric with 366 total yards on the ground. Running back Kenneth Farrow had 13 carries for 167 yards with three touchdowns while Ryan Jackson had 75 yards and a touchdown of his own. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. had a touchdown in this one, as well, giving him the most touchdowns on the ground this year (Leonard Fournette trails him for second place).
Ward had 210 yards through the air on 16/23 passing with a TD and no interceptions, as well, compared to UCF’s Justin Holman who had four turnovers. The interceptions kill the team every week- no matter who’s under center. Holman has eight picks on the season in just three and a half games.
UCF changed it up in the backfield this game, starting running back Dontravious Wilson instead of C.J. Jones. Jones has failed to deliver this season and paid the price, but Wilson did little to prove his own game- gaining just 72 yards on 19 rushes.
The Knights’ defense played the only way they know how to play- poorly. Not only giving up 59 points but playing extremely lackadaisical- not even attempting tackles.
After two tough games back to back in Temple and Houston, UCF travels to Cincy next week to play the Bearcats.
Prediction for UCF @ Cincinnati: This Bearcats team is not on the same level as Temple or Houston, with a 4-3 record and an average run game. But the Cincy passing game can take care of UCF single-handedly. UCF will fall to 0-9 and get one step closer to the firing of George O’Leary.
Final score: UCF 13 CIN 30
UPDATE: George O’Leary resigned Sunday, October 25th– the day after the loss to Houston. He was the head coach at Central Florida for 11 years and finished with a 133-101 record and 11 bowl appearances. O’Leary plans to retire.