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Across the Cougar sideline: Scouting the Central Florida Knights

Across the Cougar sideline: Scouting the Central Florida Knights

By Harper Anderson, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Sep. 20, 2011 at 4:58 p.m.



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PROVO -- After a disheartening and unexpected blowout loss to their rivals last Saturday, BYU looks to get the bad taste out of their mouth as quickly as possible.

This Friday will mark the Cougars' first battle against the University of Central Florida Knights, which are 2-1 on the season coming off of a 17-10 loss to in-state rival Florida International University.

UCF has been apart of the Conference-USA since 2005, and has won the conference championship twice since then in 2007 and 2010.

George O'Leary has coached the Knights ever since being let go after a short stint with Notre Dame for discrepancies with his resume. O'Leary was named Sports Illustrated's Coach of the Year in 2005, his second year with UCF, receiving many votes as well for the larger Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year award.

O'Leary's record while at UCF is 47-45, with four bowl appearances, winning his first bowl last year against Georgia, 10-6, in the Liberty bowl.

Offense:

With 670 rushing yards, and 612 passing yards, the Knights appear to be a very well balanced offensive team despite not scoring any passing touchdowns so far in this season.

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Godfrey, 2nd team all-conference senior Ronnie Weaver, junior Brynn Harvey, and junior Latavius Murray make up the four players for UCF that each have over 100 rushing yards.

Godfrey appears to be particularly potent on offense with six rushing touchdowns, and 468 yards passing. He is yet to throw an interception this season.

All conference honorable mention senior tight end Adam Nissley leads the team in reception yards with 140 yards on nine receptions. Junior wide receiver Quincy McDuffie, Freshman Joshua Reese, and J.J. Worton make up the rest of the receiving crew with a combined 303 yards and 21 receptions. McDuffie was also awarded as the all-conference kick returner for the 2010 season.

Clearly this offense revolves around the play-making ability of Godfrey.

"I've seen two games as of this morning. They have a very, very talented quarterback with a unique system. They have option elements and some zone reads with the quarterback scrambling out of the pocket," said BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall. "The quarterback is a creative presence that makes things go."

Defense

While hardly tested so far this season it is easy to see how fast and athletic this Knights defense is. The secondary for the Knights is a talented group led by sophomores Kemal Ishmael and Josh Robinson, both of whom were named first team All-Conference USA.

The BYU offensive line will have to pay close attention to defensive end Darius Nall, who doesn't have eye-popping stats, but was named second team All-Conference last season.

And Jonathan Davis, who switched from running back to linebacker this year, leads the team with two sacks and six tackles for loss.

Central Florida's defense has only given up one touchdown all season, but they've also faced FCS school Charleston Southern, a sub-par Boston College team that's also lost to Duke and Northwestern and a Florida International team that finished 7-6 last year and beat the Knights with a 51-yard fumble return for a score.

UCF's athleticism and spread offense led by a very mobile quarterback appears to be very lethal for the Cougars, who may still be licking their wounds from last week's shellacking, but BYU will be the first test the Knights will have faced this season, especially coming to Provo for the first time.

Expect UCF to try to have a balanced attack this Friday night to try and prevent BYU's aggressive and hard-hitting defense from zeroing in on one player or one dimension. With how versatile their quarterback is with running and passing, BYU might face a lot of plays coming off of a boot leg opening up a lot of options for the Knights.

If BYU's front seven can stick to how they started out the season and played against Utah for the first half, they should be able to contain Godfrey fairly well.

All in all depending on how the offense can respond from last week's debacle, we will probably see a low-to-mid scoring game once again. A balanced attack from both sides will keep the clock running and the points low.

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Harper Anderson

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