ATLANTA, Ga.- Three days until gameday, and it’s clear UCF is enjoying their time here at the Peach Bowl. Every player seems exuberant and ready for their showcase game Monday afternoon.
COACHING CHANGES AND PREPARATION
As expected, much of the talk today was about UCF’s coaching changes and how that has affected preparation.
“This is all about 2017 season and what these young men have accomplished, we want to finish it,” Coach Walters explained.
“I give our coaching staff a lot of credit. They would be out until the wee hours of the night recruiting for Nebraska and then still showed up a practice every day at 7:00 A.M.,” Milton said with conviction.
“We have gone through and watched every game they (Auburn) has played this season. We’ve tried to figure out ways to attack their defense. Like McKenzie said, it’s the best defense we’re going to play this season,” Walters said about the extra time they have had to get ready for this game.
INTERNAL VERSUS EXTERNAL MOTIVATION
Auburn has mixed emotions going into the game on Monday. As most of you know they lost to Georgia in the SEC championship game, which cost them a sure-fire bid into the College Football Playoff. The players and coaches said all the right things, but there must be some sort of frustration in the letdown.
“You Know we took a tough loss in the SEC championship, and we knew that it was an opportunity to play in the playoff and potentially a National Championship. It was definitely a slump that we had to get over,” Auburn middle linebacker Deshaun Davis explained.
“I think everyone is always excited for the next opportunity to perform. I don’t think it was much of having to get ourselves ready to play in this game because I think we’re always prepared to play in the next game,” Auburn’s standout senior Dontavius Russell said about leading this team after the SEC championship letdown.
Adrian Killins Jr. controversial comments about the lack of speed in the SEC has been one of the big storylines of the week. Every reporter waiting for another big headline has been disappointed thus far.
“He was just misunderstood. Every college football team has speed. It’s just we play at a fast pace, and I think that’s the difference of what he was trying to say and what people think he was trying to say,” Otis Anderson said in the defense of Adrian Killins.
“He’s a pretty fast guy. You Know, I might be a little faster than him, but I think he can say that,” offensive lineman Wyatt Miller said with laughter.
“The high school talent in the state of Florida, the high school coaches, produce elite athletes, especially at the skill positions. They produce a lot of speed,” Kevin Steele said about UCF’s potent offense.
McKenzie Milton’s development was a hot topic around the availability today.
“You know, I think it’s like anything else, just with time, you’re going to grow and you’re going to progress and you’re going to keep building that chemistry with your teammates. From year 1 to year 2 the game really slows down,” Milton said about his drastic improvement from last year.
“He’s a guy that has the ability, because of his athleticism, and just the moxie that he has and the way he plays the game to keep and extend plays,” Steele said praising Milton. He went on to say that Milton plays division one football like he is playing backyard football.
Taking in Atlanta
All the players seem to be taking in these experience to it’s fullest. The two teams are competing in events competing in the “Battle for Bowl week” which leads the two teams competing in events other than football.
“Yeah it’s been a lot of fun so far. The first night we went to Andretti Racing, and I don’t mean to brag, but I had the fastest time out of anybody on our team,” Milton said with a smirk.
“It was a humbling experience, and, you know to, learn some history by MLK and we really enjoyed it. We really enjoyed it,” Jordan Akins said about the team’s trip to the Martin Luther King Center last night.
“We’re going to win that belt, so we’re going to do everything we can to win. Last night they got us, but I think we are going to win out,” as always Otis Anderson spoke from the heart.