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Defensive line, QB play reverse roles in 38-7 rout

Sports Editor

Published: Sunday, September 5, 2010

Updated: Sunday, September 5, 2010 14:09

Central Floria Future

Emre Kelly

For years, it's been the same old story: efficient defense, suspect offense.

In a strange twist on the old classic, Sunday's season-opening win over South Dakota reversed the roles.

Rob Calabrese has been talked up throughout preseason camp for his improved poise in the pocket, and after going a perfect 9 for 9 in the first half, it's not so difficult to buy into the hype that this may just be his year.

Calabrese threw for 140 yards in the first half and didn't throw his first incompletion until an overthrow on a deep route in the third quarter. For reference, it took Calabrese until Week Nine last year against Texas before he amassed 140 yards on the season.

Before writing off Calabrese's success because of the FCS opponent, remember that he had a terrible opening-game against FCS Samford in '09, throwing for 28 yards and completing just three of seven passes. He has certainly improved his game, and next Saturday against NC State will be a good litmus test for the junior's season to come.

The defensive line, however, did not earn similar praise.

Everyone knew replacing defensive tackles Torell Troup and Travis Timmons would be no easy task. With two freshmen starting up the middle in Victor Gray and E.J. Dunston, the going looked rough early. The Coyotes rushed for 81 yards in the first half and a touchdown against a shaky line.

Coach George O'Leary wasn't too concerned with the tackles' play. Rather, he thought the Knights needed to converge quicker on the running backs when they bounced outside.

Defensive end Bruce Miller was double-teamed most of the game, which slowed his ability to get to the backfield, but he still racked up three tackles.

The Knights shored up their line in the second half, though, allowing only 35 yards after halftime.

Another note of concern for the Knights defense was Josh Robinson. It's too early to call it a sophomore slump, but Robinson had a rough game at cornerback, and his play showed why he was penciled in at backup for much of the preseason.

The second-year defensive back had momentary lapses in concentration in pass coverage, and he flubbed a couple of tackles in open space.

Jonathan Davis' first start at running back went smoothly, as the sophomore picked up 107 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Davis was given huge holes to work with courtesy redshirt juniors Nick Pieschel and Cliff McCray. Davis hit the holes hard but never showed breakaway speed.

Not that anyone should expect Chris Johnson-like speed out of the Knights' backfield; Brynn Harvey isn't exactly a burner either, and even Kevin Smith was questioned for suspect 40-yard dash times. The main strength of UCF running backs is their ability to shed tackles and grind out 4 to 5 yards per carry.

What does this win mean for the rest of the season? Nothing and everything.

Nothing in that the offensive numbers are incredibly inflated.

Everything in that the defense's struggles may be exacerbated when the Knights face FBS teams.

UCF takes on NC State on Saturday, making it the third consecutive year the Knights have faced an ACC team in their out-of-conference games.

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