First of all, screw these guys.
I hate their erector set stadium, their fan base too dumb to gain entrance into Florida State, their resume-padding ruddy-faced coach, their color schemes, the sprawling sack of flatland swamp theme park offal of Orlando, and the fact that Kevin Smith tore our ass two years ago when we still played defense like Truman Capote.
I also hate the fact that I confuse them with South Florida, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Stetson, and, oddly enough, The Colorado School of Mines.
I've watched them twice this year, so I may know more about this team than any human being on this planet.
Weird group. Basically, they have a bunch of WRs that look like Under Armour models, an OL that looks more imposing than their blocking, and they love to pound the ball despite the fact that their main RB is named Brynn. LOVELY BRYNN, DANCING ON STAGE FIVE! I pray that they're recruiting a FB named Lexy.
Brynn Harvey (173-679-7td) doesn't get much blocking, as his 3.9 yards per carry will attest. He's averaging 20+ carries per game, so I suppose they're hoping that persistence eventually pays. UCF likes to pound Brynn. Who doesn't? His best game was against Memphis where he went 42-219-1, but he's also had games against Southern Miss and Miami that were 14-37-0 and 12-25-0, respectively. And neither of those teams play D like us.
The WRs are top notch and they've got four guys that can hurt you: Ross, Aiken, Newsome, Guyton. They're big, athletic, and they can all get downfield. So naturally, UCF likes to hand the ball to Brynn Harvey as much as possible. I was impressed with these guys - and not in a "Oh, aren't they cute for Conference USA kind of way" but more in a "Damn, the majority of the SEC and Big 12 would trade out for these guys" kind of way.
QB Brett Hodges (210-120-1558-10-7) looked OK. He reminds of an even knobbier Joe Cox. He had a big game against Marshall on Sunday. He's not a big guy (6-1, 190) and isn't much of a running threat. He transferred to UCF from Wake after Riley Skinner beat him out. That may have been during the Carter Administration because Riley Skinner has been QBing Wake since at least 1979.
On the season, they're averaging 24 ppg and 337 ypg at 5.3 ypp. Nothing to get too excited about. The problem that UCF has is that they can't protect their QB (17 sacks on the year) and they don't seem to have an offensive identity congruent with where their talent actually rests. The result is a passing offense that can look good in stretches, a weak running game against a quality DL, and unreliable OL play. When they rallied against Marshall, they did it by getting their WR talent on the field and throwing the ball. I think O'Leary is more likely to try to play ball control and use that WR talent to convert some key third downs.
Probably the best DL we've seen except for Oklahoma. UCF gets mad pressure on the QB (27 sacks on the year) and DEs Miller and Geathers have combined for 16 on them. This is the kind of undersized, active front that typically gives us problems. They're actually not much of a blitzing team though they do like to bring an extra safety down to outnumber the running game. This DL is fast, hostile, and plays with passion.
The LB group is smallish and active. None of them particularly blew me away, but I liked MLB Hogue. They can run and are well-suited for playing our kind of offense. I'll be curious to see if O'Leary makes the mistake of keeping all three on the field.
The DB group struck me as weak and incohesive. They're surrendering 7.4 yards per pass attempt against teams that aren't QBed by Peyton Manning, so we'll have plenty of chances to make plays if we can block their front. They have a big safety, Greco, that is a definite liability in pass coverage. I also question the quality of their nickel and dime personnel when we line up in 4-5 WR sets. Of course, those are the sets they're also most likely to get hits on Colt, so maybe they'll take that trade.
For the year, 19.2 ppg and 4.8 ypp are respectable numbers, but if you can block their front, this is a very average defense.
Their kick and punt coverage is good and Ross and Guyton are effective punt returners. They have a horrid punting game (36 yard punt average) and their FG kicker is unreliable (9 of 14). Not much to see here.
An interesting 5-3 team. Miami had some trouble with them (winning 27-7) and they've certainly not humiliated themselves with close losses to East Carolina and Southern Mississippi. They have good players in their DL and at WR, but the rest of the team is totally average.
I see a 37 point line for this game and I'm not sure I'm interested in messing with that. This UCF team strikes me as hard to blow out that can elevate (or lower) it's play to the competition. We've just completed three straight games away from home, it's an early morning kick against a non-con opponent, and UCF has a couple of characteristics that typically give us some trouble. I expect a convincing win but a full-on mudholing just doesn't strike me as the sure bet our home games often are.
Love to hear your thoughts...