Knights will look to avenge last season’s close loss against Golden Eagles at home
Published: Sunday, July 1, 2012
Updated: Sunday, July 1, 2012 16:07
In what, on paper, will be its toughest conference matchup, UCF plays host to Southern Miss on Oct. 13 for Game Six of the 2012 season.
The two teams engaged in one of the most exciting games of the 2011 Conference USA season, when UCF quarterback Blake Bortles led a late drive to bring the Knights within a point of the Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg, Miss., before going for, and ultimately failing to convert on, a potential game-winning two-point conversion.
All things considered, this is the final matchup in the foreseeable future of a rivalry that Southern Miss has held the upper hand in the past few years.
What to look for
The Golden Eagles won C-USA in 2011, defeating Houston, 49-28, in the conference title game.
The biggest question going into this coming season for the Golden Eagles is who will be their signal caller after losing standout quarterback Austin Davis to the NFL. Davis dominated last season, throwing for 30 touchdowns.
The Golden Eagles have a plethora of weapons with their four leading rushers returning from last season. Southern Miss features undersized receivers that all excel in getting down the field. The x-factor for the Golden Eagles is slot receiver Tracy Lampley. Lampley not only had 47 catches in 2011, but he also had 91 rushes, combining for seven all-purpose touchdowns.
In spring camp, UCF defensive back A.J. Bouye spoke about wanting the challenge of playing in the slot, like Green Bay’s Charles Woodson does, and this could be the game we see that strategy employed.
Under new head coach Ellis Johnson, the Golden Eagles should be expected to play good defense. Southern Miss is going to be running a 4-2-5 alignment as a base. Hybrid pass-rusher Jamie Collins is the best player on this side of the ball. Collins moves around the defense in order to create matchup problems and to disguise various defensive plays. Bortles is going to have to find Collins before every play in order to avoid making a big mistake. Collins had 98 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks and eight pass breakups in 2011.
Overall, this is a very difficult matchup for the Knights. Southern Miss is solid, top to bottom. This game may be a struggle for UCF and could come down to whichever offense doesn’t make the “big mistake.”