ORLANDO, Fla. – It has been a season of discovery and adaptation for the first Knights to play under the Scott Frost era, establishing a heavy-handed defense early on while continuously evolving their young offense.
These Knights have earned a bowl-game-berth and are still in contention (albeit on the fringe) for the AAC title leading into Saturday’s conference matchup with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane – but it is not because of the success of the UCFast offense.
“Our defense has gone from being really good to being so disruptive they win games for us,” said Coach Frost said after last week’s defensive-powered victory over Cincinnati, a quote that quietly alludes to the offense’s lack of production thus far.
In their last three games the Knights have scored 24, 37 and 24 points; a total of eleven touchdowns among the scoring mix. Of those eleven scores, one originated from a special teams effort on a blocked punt, three from spectacular defensive plays (though a fourth was erased from the record book because of a taunting penalty), and one by Justin Holman in mop-up duty late in the fourth quarter.
That leaves just six touchdown drives generated by the No. 1 offense, and of those only one accounted for 75+ yards and two others for 50+! Each of the scoring drives ate up less than four minutes of clock time, and only three took more than three minutes off the board.
Even more telling is that the offense has generated about 266 yards of offense per game in those contests, not nearly enough to keep up with an AAC powerhouse offense racking up 42.2 points and 518.5 yards per game.
Luckily for UCF, the Golden Hurricane’s explosive offense has left a few leaky holes behind in it’s destructive path. Though they are keeping opponents close at 32.1 points per game with 17 turnovers on the season, Tulsa is surrendering an AAC-worst 536.2 yards per game.
It is an outstanding opportunity to the Knights to match pace with a high-speed Golden Hurricane offense that is capable of topping 90-100 plays every week. The Hurricanes defensive holes match up well with the balanced style of an option-offense ran by dual-threat freshman McKenzie Milton, breaking down for 198.7 rushing yards and 234.7 passing yards a game.
All of this means one simple thing for the struggling UCF offense; this weekend is their chance to flip the script and carry the game.