UCF at BYU
Published: Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 16:09
The Knights say they're ready to move forward.
Following a disappointing 17-10 loss to FIU in Miami last week, UCF (2-1) is preparing on a short week for Friday's game on the road against BYU (1-2).
With the sting of a tough loss still lingering, the Knights say they're prepared to move forward and rebound.
"Our goal was to try and win every game on the schedule but we just have to bounce back from that (the loss) and not let it set us back," running back Latavius Murray said.
With that in mind, here's everything you need to know about UCF's big Friday night match-up.
UCF: Last time out
The Knights just seemed off against FIU.
The two turnovers were obviously glaring and played a huge role in the loss. Also glaring, though, were the penalties. Usually a more disciplined team, UCF racked up 10 penalties for 71 yards. It is a stat the Knights will have to improve on going forward.
The constant pressure in quarterback Jeff Godfrey's face led to him getting sacked an uncharacteristic six times after not having been sacked at all in the first two contests.
Finally, the Knights never seemed to get into a rhythm running the ball. Historically, things have not boded well for UCF when the Knights have needed to rely on moving the ball through the air.
"We had a good game plan; we just didn't execute," defensive tackle Victor Gray said. "We beat ourselves."
BYU: Last time out
Going into the half, BYU trailed Utah 14-10.
It was a hard-fought first half, much like you would expect from a rivalry game.
Then, in the second half, that all went out the window with Utah scoring 40-unanswered points, pummeling the Cougars 54-10.
BYU turned the ball over seven times in the contest and simply could not run the ball, amassing only 11 yards on 22 carries. Those factored together to help negate the Cougars' 343 passing yards on the contest. Eight penalties for 70 yards didn't help much, either.
Meanwhile, Utah walked all over the Cougars' defense with a very balanced attack, highlighted by the Utes' 242 rushing yards, and 174 came by way of the legs of running back John White.
What to watch for when UCF has the ball
Can the Knights get back to effectively running the ball?
UCF's total rushing output last week of 119 yards wasn't horrible, but considering what an integral part the run game is expected to play throughout the season, it was disappointing.
"Coach [George O'Leary] says all the time, and I believe it, too, that you have to establish a run game," Murray said. "As long as we get that established, I think it will open up a lot more for the offense."
The Knights should at least have the opportunity to establish some consistency on the ground this week against a team that allowed 242 rushing yards last week.
Meanwhile, another point of emphasis is going to be how well the offensive line protects Godfrey. The aggressive approach taken by FIU last week was undoubtedly noted by other teams and will be mimicked going forward.
"We didn't handle the pressure very well," O'Leary said. "They're a big, physical team on defense."
What to watch for when BYU has the ball
The Cougars' seven turnovers last week were certainly uncharacteristic and played a large part of the game becoming so lopsided.
Expect a large part of those mistakes to be corrected going into Friday's game. Gray noted that BYU's offensive frustrations last week could make the Cougars all the more dangerous this week.
"I expect them to come out hurt, to come out hungry," Gray said. "We're both kind of in the same boat [coming off a disappointing loss]. … [We] both have something to prove."
UCF's secondary will need to be prepared this week. BYU quarterback Jake Heaps passed for 305 yards last week and has thrown for big yards in all three contests this season. Heaps has, however, showed an inclination to turning over the ball, with four interceptions on the season and two fumbles last week.
"Offensively, they're a team that has the typical offensive line that BYU has had in the past: [They] have a quarterback that makes plays," O'Leary said.
Cougars to watch
Jake Heaps QB (So.)
The sophomore quarterback threw for 2,316 yards and 15 touchdown passes his freshmen year. This year, he's off to a fast start, having amassed 722 passing yards through three games. If the Knights can get pressure on him, he is prime target. Heaps has fumbled twice and thrown four interceptions already this season. A talented passer, he has not shown much ability to make a play with his feet.
Ross Apo WR (Fr.)
The freshman wide receiver's numbers aren't altogether staggering, but there is one thing that stands out about Apo. He's found the end zone in each of BYU's games, showing that Apo has a knack for consistently making plays.
This is going to be a big momentum game for the Knights.
A loss in Provo, Utah, would mean a losing streak, something the team desperately wants to avoid. A win, while it certainly would not erase the memory of the loss to FIU, would go a long ways to building momentum for UCF as the Knights turn towards the conference slate.
Both the Cougars and the Knights are coming off disappointing losses, and a contest like this is where leadership from the upperclassmen may really prove invaluable.