Looking forward — Previewing the 2012 season: Week Eight vs. SMU
UCF will seek some revenge after being handedly defeated by Mustangs in 2011
Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012
Updated: Sunday, July 15, 2012 15:07
The ninth game of the 2012 season for the UCF Knights will see SMU travel to Orlando to take on the Knights at Bright House Networks Stadium. One of the more crucial contests of the season, this matchup is especially dangerous for UCF as last season, the Mustangs wiped the floor with the Knights in Dallas, 38-17.
What to look for
A season ago, the Knights came into their matchup with the Mustangs at 3-2, needing a big win to get their season back on track. SMU resoundingly denied that momentum-building win. Mustangs quarterback J.J. McDermott threw for 358 yards and two scores. McDermott, much like his team, struggled with inconsistency and turnovers last season, as he also threw 16 interceptions.
In all but three games in 2011, McDermott had at least one interception.
Last season, Cole Beasley caught 10 passes for more than 100 yards against the Knights. Fortunately, he is now in the Dallas Cowboys’ organization. Running back Zach Line also carried the ball 16 times for 82 yards and two scores. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound back returns for the Mustangs and will likely have an increased workload in 2012.
The Knights’ defense needs to be aggressive against SMU’s spread attack. The more pressure is applied to the passer, the more turnovers will ensue.
The Mustangs had interesting tendencies in 2011. After dominating UCF, they turned around and lost 27-3 to Southern Miss, and 38-7 to Tulsa.
In order to win this game, the Knights need to be able to score points and string together long drives.
The Mustangs are coached by June Jones, who is known for his work at Hawaii where he installed his “Air Raid” offense, which led to quarterback Colt Brennan throwing 131 touchdowns in three seasons. Thus far, McDermott is no Brennan, but the offensive system he plays in will give him every opportunity to do significant damage.
Due to the nature of the offense, interceptions will be thrown. Most college offenses don’t throw nearly as much as Jones’ system calls for, so the Knights linebackers and secondary need to find themselves in passing lanes ready to make plays.
The key player in this game for the Knights is whoever covers the slot receivers. SMU will come out in mostly three, four and five wide receiver sets — and the Mustangs love to throw to their slot receivers and let them run after the catch. Expect A.J. Bouye to get some time in the slot this season, especially against a team like this.
This is a crucial game for UCF, and it cannot afford to lose this game if it hopes to make a run at the Conference USA title game. Expect a high scoring affair, and the team that turns the ball over the most will likely lose the game.