Knights look to find answers at QB at ECU
Published: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 16:11
UCF Knights (4-6, 2-4) at East Carolina Pirates (4-6, 3-3)
Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium (50,000)
Kickoff time: 7 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Network - Sun Sports in Florida
Radio: WYGM 740 AM
Forecast: Mostly sunny, High of 61, Low of 41
East Carolina: Last time out
The Pirates backed themselves into a similar situation as the Knights when, after losing 22-17 to UTEP (5-5, 2-4), they found themselves needing to win their final two games to be bowl eligible. East Carolina's defense struggled mightily against the Miners' run game. UTEP totaled 241 rushing yards, nearly as many yards as the Pirates had total (254). The Miners had to use a backup quarterback after their starter was injured, but sophomore Carson Meger had success against East Carolina, passing for 155 yards.
UCF: Last time out
J.J. Worton caught a touchdown pass from Blake Bortles as time expired, culminating a desperate late drive and bringing the Knights within a point of No. 20 Southern Miss (9-1, 5-1). UCF elected to go for the two-point conversion and the win, as had been the plan from the start of the late rally, and as Bortles' pass fell short so did the Knights' hopes of repeating as Conference USA Champions. UCF's defense was the definition of bend but don't break on Saturday, allowing the Golden Eagles to drive into or near the red zone five times, but then forcing Southern Miss to come away with only field goals. The Knights used both quarterback Jeff Godfrey and Bortles throughout the game, with Bortles getting the snaps late in the game.
What to watch for when ECU has the ball:
Plain and simple, the Pirates pass. Quarterback Dominique Davis is closing in on 3,000 yards for the season (currently has 2,737) and has thrown 18 touchdown passes. The team is No. 17 in the nation in pass yards per game at 294.5. That proficiency through the air is due in part, though, to East Carolina's inability to run the ball effectively. The Pirates are No. 112 in the nation in rushing yards per game at 99.1. UCF's pass rush, which has been nonexistent often throughout the 2011 campaign, will need to step up and get pressure on Davis for the Knights to be successful on defense.
What to watch for when UCF has the ball:
Who's under center? Coach George O'Leary told reporters at Tuesday's weekly press conference that Godfrey is still the starter, but whether there was a case for Bortles to see significant playing time before, there certainly is one now following the Southern Miss game. Bortles is expected to see significant playing time, according to O'Leary. Another concern for the Knights is where their rushing game has gone. Against the Golden Eagles, UCF had an abysmal 48 rushing yards. The Knights will need to crank that number up and be efficient on the ground against a Pirates defense that was ran all over by UTEP.
Key ECU players
— Dominique Davis, quarterback: Another mobile quarterback who is the focal point of the Pirates' offense. Has 18 touchdown passes and a 68.2 completion percentage, but also turns the ball over and has 15 interceptions
— Lance Lewis, receiver: While Lewis' numbers are down significantly from a year ago, that is mostly in part because the Pirates have more options. Still, Lewis is the No. 1 receiver on a team that predominately passes, with 600 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.