ORLANDO, Fla. – For the second consecutive week, UCF will continue its rebirth under Scott Frost against a power-five opponent, locking horns with the 2-0 Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. The Terps represent a significant test for the 1-1 Knights as they still are working to cement in a new identity.
Let’s take a look at some of the things to watch in a transition from The Big House to The Bounce House on Saturday.
It was reported Saturday morning that freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton will get the start in the wake of what appeared to be a significant non-contact injury to Justin Holman last weekend. Milton is a true freshman brought in by the new coaching regime and will get his chance to make an impact as Frost is clearly looking to avoid diving down the same rabbit hole that was the 2015 season when Holman went down and the quarterback play suffered dearly.
The Level of Competition:
Though the Knights suffered a 51-14 shellacking against Michigan last week, this young team hit hard against one of the premiere football programs in the nation in their previous game. You couldn’t find a player who looked disappointed in the effort afterwards, and the not only confidence level that stems from landing a few good punches against a team that talented, but the knowledge of what it takes to compete at the highest level should benefit UCF significantly.
Maryland, on the other hand, is 2-0 against Howard University and FIU this season. Not that the Knights have established themselves as the conference power they once were, but UCF should pose a new kind of threat for the Terrapins.
UCFast Run Game:
Frost has shown often and early that he is going to call a variety of numbers when it comes time to carry the rock. Expect for this running back by committee approach to continue in the third week of college football, though true freshman Jawon Hamilton is emerging as the lead dog pulling the sled.
Hamilton has 26 carries for 92 yards without a score. Adrian Killins flashed homerun potential with an 87 yard rush for a touchdown against the Wolverines – the first touchdown scored against Michigan this season – and returning back Dontravious Wilson has notched 96 yards and a score of his own on only 23 carries this young season.
Safe Play from the Terrapins:
Maryland has managed to avoid tossing an interception through their initial two games, but has only aired it out for three touchdowns over the same time span. It speaks to a conservative approach in playcalling, not asking for big plays or forcing risky shots downfield that can be fodder for a hungry secondary.
Quarterback Perry Ellis will likely produce in much of the same manner this week, averaging about nine yards per pass attempt. The Terps will rely on consistent, smaller gains and feature a three-headed-attack on the ground from Lorenzo Hamilton, Trey Edmunds and Ty Johnson; the three have combined for 45 carries, 339 yards and four scores.
It is always a good sign to see heavy production from your linebackers, and the Knights’ roster has displayed an unparalleled energy level early on. Chequan Burkett paces UCF in tackles with 14 as a reserve, making the most of his time on the field, while Errol Clarke owns 1.5 tackles for loss.
Combined with the efforts of Shaquem Griffin, the linebackers have been all over the field, consistently making plays around the ball. They have a chance to be the difference maker against Ellis’ accuracy behind center.