UCF had a well needed victory over South Carolina State in their season opener last week. The win gave Coach Frost his first win as a Head Coach and the Knights their first win in 18 months. Not only did UCF win, but they beat South Carolina State to a pulp with the final score being 38 – 0.
This week UCF had it cut out for them in their game against the No. 5 team Michigan. Michigan has won more games than any team in college football history. So for a team that had a season of zero wins this stat was already intimidating to UCF. In the first half, it definitely proved to be that way as Michigan was up 31 – 0. But UCF must have gotten Jameis Winston on the phone for a pep talk. UCF answered back in the second quarter when Adrian Killings scored a touchdown for 87 yards. The only other Knight to go 87 yards to touchdown was Kevin Smith, against Marshall in 2007. Smith went on to play for the NFL but made his way back home to UCF as part of the current coaching staff.
UCF played well defensively, especially when Demeitre Brim hit Michigan’s Eddie McDoom. However, this took a turn as officials flagged the play as targeting and Brim was ejected from the game. Fans of UCF and Michigan deemed the call as severe and unfair, but the ruling stuck. As a fan of UCF, this did have some bearing on the momentum of the game. But my team was not going out without a fight. In the third quarter, Dontravious Wilson scored a 34-yard touchdown. UCF’s chance at tightening the score depleted when Killings and QB Justin Holman both suffered injury. Ultimately, UCF surrendered to Michigan 51 – 14.
Though there are no moral victories in football, UCF has a lot to celebrate with this particular loss. In a press conference proceeding the game, Frost remarked “It’s rare you can come into Michigan and rush for 300 yards and they had to run a fly sweep to get to 100. I give our defense a ton of credit. … There’s a lot to fix but also a lot to be excited about.” Despite sacks, UCF ran for 275 yards and 6 yards per carry. Michigan had only 119 rushing yards and 2.9 yards per carry.
“Standing on the sideline there’s no doubt which team was hitting harder. Our guys came in hungry and wanted to do that,” said Frost. I will say that UCF could have come out harder in the first quarter, at least to avoid the 21-point lead from Michigan. But my guys definitely showed heart. I was proud as a fan. This game did not change my hope for their season, it strengthened it. As Frost said “Our team played hard today, there’s absolutely no doubt about it. The passion, the effort, the physicality was there.”
The way the Knights played showed us where they can improve. Special teams definitely can use work as well as the passing game. There is a lack of experience on the offensive side versus defense, as much of the team is young. The Knights may not have the best record at the close of this season, but I can see the team progressing with Frost. Normally, losing by 37 points can be discouraging. But to be the best, you challenge the best and the rest is unwritten.
UCF playing Michigan gave the team exposure to playing a solid offense and defense. They were playing NFL caliber guys! There was a recorded attendance of 109,295 at Michigan Stadium. That, along with the game being televised on prime time television gives UCF so much more exposure. This will also help UCF attract top recruits to later add to their roster.
I hope my Knights know that this was a loss in the record, but not in spirit. Keep that hunger and be ready to attack Maryland next week. Go Knights, Charge on!