Orlando Fla. – UCF’s defense swarmed the Memphis Tigers and held the 30th ranked offense in the NCAA to 13 points.
Memphis scored on their first drive and did not score again until the very last play of the game.
“I’m just kind of a spectator when the defense is on the field cause those coaches got it and those players got it,” said Head Coach Scott Frost. “It’s fun to watch.”
UCF forced four total turnovers; three interceptions and one fumble recovery. The Knights secondary more than held their own against a presumed future NFL quarterback in Memphis’ Riley Ferguson.
“The secondary played great,” Frost said. “That’s a really difficult game for a secondary; they run the ball so well, they got good weapons on the outside, they run the RPO. You gotta be at the right place, at the right time. I can’t say enough about those guys.”
UCF’s red-shirt freshman corner Brandon Moore stepped up big. He made a huge pass break-up on third-in-one early in the first quarter, which led to a turnover on downs by Memphis. Later, Moore broke up another pass on what looked like a sure touchdown for Memphis on third-and two in the fourth quarter. He wrestled the ball out of the Memphis receivers’ hands to force a fourth-and-two, which led to another turnover on downs
“I thought Brandon Moore and Mike Hughes played great,” Frost said. The safeties played great. Just an unbelievable performance.”
The Knights’ junior college transfer cornerback, Mike Hughes caught his second interception in the last two games after red-shirt freshman safety Richie Grant tipped a Ferguson pass, which fail right into his waiting arms.
“It feels good, Hughes said. “We talk about it all week; playing as a unit, being in the right spots at the right time. Everything just kind of fell into place.”
Red-shirt junior safety Kyle Gibson joined in on the fun in the third quarter and grabbed an interception of his own, also his second in the last two games.
“They had a great quarterback, he has a heck of an arm,” Gibson said. It just felt good just coming out there and seeing what we practiced, just playing our keys and playing ball.”
UCF’s revamped secondary has looked spectacular this season despite all four defensive backs being first year starters with the Knights. Through three games, Hughes is No. 1 in the American Athletic Conference with five pass break-ups and two interceptions. Moore is No. 6 with three pass breakups and one interception.
Kyle Gibson has a pair of interceptions on the season, Mike Hughes has returned one for a touchdown and the unit just allowed over 300 yards for the first time – and the bulk of the yardage came long after the game was in hand.
Overall, the Knights are No. 7 in the NCAA in total defense after bottling-up an elusive Memphis offense.