Knights Weekly: UCF looks to turn things around after departure of George O’Leary

knights weekly

New coach, same story.

That was the storyline on Saturday when the winless UCF Knights took on the Cincinnati Bearcats. After head coach George O’Leary resigned after last week’s loss to Houston, many thought interim head coach Danny Barrett would turn things around for the better, but those people were wrong.

The Knights continued against Cincy, getting embarrassed 52-7. It was due to the hot hand of Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel who controlled the UCF defense all game long. Kiel finished the game 15/15 with 319 yards and five touchdowns adding up to a total quarterback rating of 99.5.

UCF’s offense struggled mightily once again, scoring their only point of the game late in the fourth and being held to 313 total yards compared to the Bearcats’ 726. C.J. Jones reclaimed his dominant running back position in this one, rushing for 123 yards on 18 carries with the team’s only score.

Although the UCF fans probably aren’t ecstatic right now, they actually do have a reason to be. Jones’ outstanding performance is a big leap for this team- showing Danny Barrett’s willingness to run the football. UCF has been known to run the rock in the George O’Leary era but their ground and pound offense has been lost this year. If they can get back to a run-oriented offense with a settled-in quarterback, they may be on the rise to a nationally recognized team once again.

It is clear that this season is down the drain, but all this program can do now is rebuild for next year. A defensive minded coach would be the best fit with an offense built around the run. C.J. Jones must be molded into the best player he can be just like quarterback Justin Holman. The team will go into a quarterback competition this offseason between Holman, Bo Schneider, and Tyler Harris, but whoever prevails must lead the offense and cut the turnovers in half.

Although interim head coach Danny Barrett might not be back next year, he can enforce a great deal of changes for the better. By instilling the defensive and run-oriented philosophy now, it will give the team a head start for next year, and put them a step closer to reaching glory once again.

UCF looks to start its rebuilding process next week against Tulsa.

Prediction for @ Tulsa:  UCF will go into the Tulsa game with a chip on its shoulder as they look to the future. With much to be optimistic about, the Knights may keep it close in Tulsa…but come out on the losing end again.

Final score: UCF 15 TUL 25

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