After a roller coaster of a year for the UCF Knights, not many things are looking up. The team is sitting at 0-10 right now and has a conference matchup against East Carolina this coming Thursday. This game has more meaning to it than the rest, however.
The primetime clash with East Carolina has been built up as a mini rivalry throughout the week, giving the players an edge coming into this one. With the Pirates being the last team UCF defeated, the players are looking to go out and do it again.
“That’s the last time we had a win and that’s the last time we felt that joy of winning, so, we want to feel it again this year, so, we’re just doing anything it takes to win,” said senior running back Cedric Thompson. The seniors, especially, are looking to end their college football careers on a good note. Fellow senior running back Joseph Puopolo described their heated collisions with ECU as “hyped up.”
Their chances to pick up a win are looking better than ever for the Knights. This past bye week gave the drained players time to recuperate. Interim head coach Danny Barrett went on to say, “mentally, we are fresh and we have some injured guys who are 100%. The wide receivers are looking good.”
The receiving core is where the game is won, in my opinion. If Justin Holman can settle into the offense and find his receivers, the Knights will run circles around the ECU defense. There’s just one little problem- Holman hasn’t been able to do that all year.
Holman isn’t the only question mark on the team. The defense is where the game is decided. It’s quite simple; if Holman and the defense stop slacking, UCF wins their first game of the season on a meaningful night in Orlando.
The players and coaches need this win desperately. Ending the season with a big win over conference rival East Carolina will propel the Knights into the offseason. With freshmen like Tre’Quan Smith leading the charge into next year, a big win to finish off the year will do the team a whole lot of good.
Not only are the players and coaches hungry for a win, but also are the fans. It was just two years ago that the UCF Knights were Orange Bowl Champions. Last year the team went 9-4 with a bowl appearance, as well. The team has produced several NFL playmakers in recent memory such as Blake Bortles and Latavius Murray. It’s safe to say that fans have become accustomed to winning.
What was different about this year? Did George O’Leary’s time simply run out? Was there a lack of chemistry? What’s in the past cannot be changed, but the future can be altered still. The path to a once again winning program starts this Thursday night in Orlando.
Prediction for East Carolina @ UCF: Although UCF needs a win desperately, I don’t think they’ll pull it off against a team like East Carolina. ECU is a subpar, inconsistent team but a matchup against UCF will simply give them a wake-up call. Don’t be too surprised if the upset takes place, however.
Final score: ECU 27 UCF 17