This Saturday, October 1, the Knights played in their first conference game of the season against the East Carolina Pirates. Much like the Maryland game, it was very exciting. After beating UCF 44-7 last year, ECU was favored to win. Luckily, that was not UCF’s fate.
Frost still hasn’t finalized the decision on the starting quarterback. Following the loss against Maryland, “McKenzie was a little beat up” as described by Coach Frost. This led to the starting of Justin Holman who had been out since suffering a hamstring injuring in the Michigan game.
ECU’s Deondre Farrier scored the first touchdown of the game with a 16-yard reception from Quarterback Phillip Nelson. This was fiercely overshadowed by when Adrian Killins scored a 100-yard touchdown on a kickoff return. Killins has been the 4th player in school history to accomplish this and the first since 1994.
It seemed as though the Knights initially missed McKenzie, as chemistry between the offense and Holman was off. There were drops leading up to the third quarter. Though, UCF still led at 23-7 going into the third quarter. But two back to back touchdowns by ECU’s Zay Jones and Quay Johnson made it a game, bringing the score to 23 – 21.
UCF linebacker, Mark Rucker was ejected from a questionable targeting call. Much like that of Demetrie Brim in the Michigan game. This made chances look shaky for UCF.
That all changed once Dontravious Wilson had a 14-yard rushing touchdown. Following a pick-six from Brendon Hayes right after. The Knights closed the game at 47-29.
This was a great win for the team and gave them the confidence they needed. Coach Frost stated, “We can play a lot better than that. We played sloppy.” This seems to be the theme thus far. The game against South Carolina State is a great example of how UCF has played messy but still secured a win.
Their performance against Michigan and Maryland were a big test. Had UCF upset Maryland, they definitely would have shaken the table. But this game against ECU may have been the most significant assessment on how the Knight’s will be for the remainder of the season. Once the team can become more solid and consistent, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
One thing that has been an almost consistent positive, has been UCF’s defense. “Defense has been keeping us in games and allowing us to break them open,” said Frost. Defense collected five sacks, three interceptions and only allowed for 48 rushing yards from ECU.
One major highlight from this game is the fact that offense, defense and special teams scored touchdowns. The last time this happened was in a 61-14 win on November 10, 2010 against Tulane. The Knights are to take on Tulane this upcoming Friday, October 7.
Given UCF’s performance – or lack thereof – last season, it may be safe to say that people are still “sleeping on” the Knights. UCF is now currently 3-2 overall and 1-0 in the American Athletic Conference. As I said earlier in the season, I can see a lot of potential from the team. It is so rewarding to watch the highlights of the game as well as interviews from the players and Coach Frost. It is very noticeable that the team has a positive outlook on their future. That transcends well over to the fans. I don’t think the UCF Knights will be considered the underdog for much longer. The team is starting to wake up and soon, so will everyone else.
“Let’s stay the course, we are on our way boys.” – Coach Frost