Mid-season adjustments crucial for strong finish
Published: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, October 19, 2011 15:10
UCF head coach George O'Leary has seen this before.
His Knights are 3-3, and O'Leary is aware of the success his team can still achieve. In both 2007 and 2009, UCF (3-3, 1-1) started 3-3 and still played in bowl games and had success.
In order for this campaign to give way to a similar result after a slow first half, though, O'Leary says his players have got to improve in some fundamental areas.
One of those areas is sustaining blocks.
"I counted nine plays in [the SMU game] that [there is] one more sustain of a block and it becomes a [big gain]," O'Leary said. "That's what you keep preaching to them … You never know what block is going to be the key block."
O'Leary said his offensive attack has been executing well, getting the ball downfield and picking up first downs but has struggled to make big plays and convert drives into points. The Knights are hopeful that by paying more particular attention to sustaining blocks to the whistle will yield some extra yards and perhaps some big plays, the type of plays the team has lacked.
"Any time in the game you can get a big play, it's momentum for us, and that's something we lack from last year," tight end Adam Nissley said.
On the defensive side of the ball, O'Leary said he's not getting the second-effort pushes he'd like to see and that it directly pertains to the low number of sacks his defense has accumulated this season.
"Most good pass rushers … they very rarely beat you on the first move; it's the second move, the second-effort move that gets you some pressure on the quarterback," O'Leary said. "That's what I've been addressing with our players."
In addition to those second effort plays, O'Leary has expressed concern to his defensive coaches about the utilization of the Knights' speed.
"We got to be more active with our linemen – they're the ones that normally cause the tackles for losses – and I've think they've been a little bit stagnant," O'Leary said. "I think we got a lot of speed on the defensive front, and we need to start utilizing it."
Both of these things were focuses during the short practice week, and the players appear to be onboard with adjustments they feel will put them back in the win column come Thursday.
Specifically, defensive lineman Troy Davis agrees that there has been a lack of defense presence in the opposing backfield and that it should be remedied for Thursday, saying, "[Lack of second effort pass rushes are] what's been our problem, and we're going to get back to it."