Head coach George O’Leary has consistently talked about one-week seasons throughout a 2015 campaign that has yet to yield a win. With the Knights (0-6, 0-2 in AAC) teetering on the edge of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2011, preparation for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. matchup against Temple (5-0, 2-0 in AAC) seems a bit more meticulous.
“If we cannot look at [preparation] as just one week as a whole and just look at it day-by-day, period-by-period at practice, I think Saturday will come a little easier for us,” redshirt junior wide receiver Nick Patti said. “We’ve gotten off to a couple of fast starts, but we’ve got to figure out a way to sustain.”
Patti’s 18 points on the season ties him for second most on the team. He caught his first career receiving touchdown Saturday against UConn and has rushed for two scores, which are UCF’s only two of the season.
After catching three touchdown passes against Tulane, true freshman wide receiver D’erren Wilson matches Patti with 18. Redshirt freshman kicker Matthew Wright is responsible for the most points at 26.
The Knights’ lack of offensive production began in front of the quarterback, though. Since former starting center Joey Grant went down with a season-ending shoulder injury, junior Jason Rae and redshirt sophomore Tate Hernly have both started games. It’s the first time in UCF’s FBS era (since 1996) that the Knights have started three different centers in one year.
Ten players have started on the offensive line — six of those starters have been underclassmen. Redshirt sophomore left tackle Aaron Evans has been the only player to start each game at the same position.
The inconsistency on the offensive line has proved to be evident as the Knights have given up 15 sacks for 129 yards.
But for the young UCF team, it ultimately comes down to maturing at a quicker pace. That expedited maturation was reflected in this week’s practices.
“It definitely feels like on the offensive side of the ball that the tempo has picked up a whole different level,” redshirt freshman running back C.J. Jones said. “The better we do in practice will just show in the better we’re doing in the game.”
Jones and true freshman Taj McGowan have shared runs since the second game of the season. Jones has rushed for 117 yards on 27 carries in six games, but he did not record a rush in the first of six games. McGowan has 130 yards on 50 carries in four games.
“Once you play a snap, we don’t look at you as a freshman anymore,” senior linebacker Domenic Spencer said. “We look at you as an upperclassman.
“You got to grow up fast.”
Victor Ng is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @_victorT24.