Key player matchups could prove do or die for Knights
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 15:09
The Knights head into Columbus, Ohio having been prepared for a battle.
The team will be facing an Ohio State Buckeye squad that is ranked No. 14 in the country, according to the Associated Press Poll, and have the talent to back it up.
"I think the task this week with Ohio State is they have a very good football team,” head coach George O’Leary said. “They recruit extremely well. Urban’s [Meyer] just taking over, but I think Jim Tressel was no slouch in recruiting. He brought a lot of good players to that program.”
O’Leary believes his team can play with the best in the country, but the Knights will need to win some key matchups against the Buckeye’s top players in order to head back to Florida with a win.
That includes making major improvements from last week and containing an electric athlete.
Braxton Miller vs. UCF linebackers
Defensive coordinator Jim Fleming will have to try and find a way to slow down one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country in Braxton Miller. The sophomore put up jaw-dropping numbers last week in the Buckeyes win over Miami (Ohio), racking up 207 yards in the air and 161 on the ground. Miller scored three touchdowns Saturday, proving that he is a scoring threat UCF will have to account for in the game plan.
“I think he’s an exceptional quarterback that basically is everything they talk about at Ohio State,” head coach George O’Leary said of Miller. “He’s a very good player that has a great surrounding cast around him.”
One of the routes that Fleming and O’Leary may take in order to slow Miller down is to spy him throughout the game or have a defensive player shadow the quarterback so he is unable to break away for a long run.
Senior linebacker Jonathan Davis is a good candidate for the role as he has plenty of speed – he played running back for the Knights two years ago – and is a solid tackler at outside linebacker. Whether Davis and all of UCF’s linebackers have the physicality to bring Miller down on a consistent basis will be a deciding factor in the game.
Bortles will have to duplicate his performance against Akron in order for UCF to be successful, something that he can only do if the Knights win the offensive line battle mentioned above.
With the possible loss of redshirt senior running back Latavius Murray for Saturday’s game and the strength of the Buckeyes on the defensive line, the game may very well rest upon Bortles’ shoulders. The Knights will need consistent production in the passing game, something that has never been a given, but would undoubtedly be clutch on Saturday.