ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF (1-2) dropped a double-overtime gut wrencher to Maryland (3-0) Saturday night, falling to the Terrapins 30-24 in front of an announced crowd of 43,197 at Bright House Networks Stadium.
“I don’t know what to say about that game, I’m broken hearted for our kids,” said a solemn Coach Frost. “They worked their tails off – I told them before the game they were poised and ready to knock off a team that nobody – that very few people believed they could beat.”
It seemed all game that the Knights were indeed poised and ready to bury a power-five conference opponent after the shellacking at the hands of Michigan last week, even outgaining the Terps 455-373 in offensive production.
Even more impressive was that this explosion of the UCFast offense came at the hands of a true freshman starting quarterback; the first since Jeff Godfrey in 2010.
“I got about what I thought from McKenzie. He was calm and cool, a heck of a lot of fun to watch. He made a lot of great plays, [but] there were some first game mistakes,” Frost said of his signal caller. McKenzie Milton, in his first career start and only third career college football game, completed 21-of-36 passed for two touchdowns and if you discount the yardage lost via sacks, rushed for 62 yards.
The other side of that coin is that the true freshman was sacked three times and tackled a few more behind the line for a total of 55 lost yards and a net gain of only seven on the ground, while throwing one interception, fumbling the ball six times and losing three of those loose balls. That’s four momentum killers right there.
He and Wide Receiver Tre’Quan Smith displayed impressive chemistry their first game in action together as Smith hauled in eight passes for 114 yards and a score. Coach Frost insisted that good chemistry is going to come from any quarterback that can get a playmaker the ball, and from any receiver who can go up and make plays – something Smith wholeheartedly agreed with.
“I tell them whenever it’s a bad pass, a dropped ball – it’s on me. It’s never your fault, it’s on me. You’re doing your job, I’m going to do my job; I’m going to make you look better. That’s my job, to make you look better,” Smith emphatically expressed.
UCF had Maryland’s offense on the ropes for a majority of the night, basically living across the line of scrimmage in the Terrapin’s backfield. Racking up five sacks, the Knights appeared to have a ferocity not seen around The Bounce House in recent memory.
Not only was the defense’s swagger radiating throughout the game, but a clear willingness to search for every competitive advantage was on display as well. Frost called for five conversion attempts on fourth down, converted a fake punt, called a trick play in which Running Back Dontravious Wilson threw a pass, and didn’t hesitate to start a true freshman that he believed gave them the best chance to spark a win.
“We’re going to go for it on fourth down, we’re going to run trick plays, we’re going to play whoever gives us the best chance to win. I don’t want to try to tell my team to go all out and to keep their foot on the gas and then my decision making doesn’t match it,” Frost said.
At the end of the day the turnovers, 56 penalty yards and missed opportunities were too much for a team on the rise, a team learning to win, to overcome. Coach Frost certainly believes that things are still headed in the right direction.
“We’ve got a bunch of fighters on this football team, and they’re poised and ready to take the next step.”