2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 8 - UCF at UAB
Conference USA Fearless Predictions &
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Oct. 20 at UAB 26 … UCF 24
CFN Analysis: Finally, UAB got a win and finally is showed that the offense could work. The UCF defense has been fantastic this year, with enough athletes to stop a struggling offense cold. UAB’s attack started to work a bit against Tulsa, and the 501 yards of total offense and converting 9-of-15 on third downs turned out to make all the difference in a tight game the defense tried to give away. The Blazer D continues to be a work in progress, struggling in the fourth quarter to hang on, but the offense did its part with one final drive with Ty Long’s 40-yard field goal the biggest moment of the season so far. If nothing else, the win showed that the team is improving.
Who gives up 501 yards to a UAB offense?! UCF came into this game No. 3 in the nation in total defense, No. 4 in pass efficiency defense, and No. 9 in scoring defense, but it couldn’t keep the nation’s 106th-ranked offense in check and couldn’t come up with a sop in the clutch. Just when it seemed like the team was going to escape, the D failed in the final moments. Blake Bortels was far sharper than Jeff Godfrey throwing the ball and rallying the team back, but the offense still needs Godfrey’s running ability. Now at 1-2 in the conference, it’s going to take a ton of work to have any hope of getting back in the title race, but fortunately, Memphis is up next.
(AP) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The UAB Blazers rallied just when it seemed they might let another game slip away.
Ty Long kicked a 40-yard field goal with 21 seconds left to give UAB its first victory of the season Thursday night, 26-24 over Central Florida.
The Blazers (1-6, 1/3 Conference USA) converted two third-and-longs after taking over at their own 16 with 4:57 left to set up the game-winner.
They had dropped two games by five points or fewer and blew a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter this time before rebounding and finally getting something to celebrate.
"The satisfaction of winning a football game is mighty big for us," UAB coach Neil Callaway said.
The Knights (3-4, 1-2) got the ball across midfield with 14 seconds remaining on a kick return by Rannell Hall, whose returns helped set up all three TDs.
Backup quarterback Blake Bortles threw an incomplete pass and then had a last-play heave intercepted by Chase Daniel at the goal line.
"It feels so good to finally get that monkey off your back," said wide receiver Jackie Williams, who had 10 catches for 82 yards and ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Bortles had led two fourth-quarter scoring drives after relieving Jeff Godfrey to rally the Knights from a 23-14 deficit, but couldn't keep UCF from losing for the fourth time in five games.
Jonathan Perry completed 31 of 42 passes for 327 yards and his first two career touchdowns while subbing for injured starter Bryan Ellis.
"I was just trying to get the first one out of the way," Perry said of the touchdown passes.
All those numbers were career highs, and his completions put him in a four-way tie for second-most in UAB history.
He has started three of the past four games with Ellis out with injuries.
The backup threw two interceptions in the end zone but came up big at the end -- with a little help from a timely flag.
Patrick Hearn caught a 22-yarder while falling backward on third-and-12 to push the Blazers across midfield. On third-and-16, Lyle Dankenbring was called for pass interference.
"We knew that we had to run as much time as we could off the clock," Callaway said. "And the play with Pat Hearn making a heck of a catch on their sideline put us in great position for the field goal."
Long split the uprights after three straight runs by Darrin Reaves. UCF had taken the lead on Shawn Moffitt's 24-yard field goal.
UAB gained 501 yards against the nation's No. 3 defense while holding UCF to 331. Perry also ran for 33 yards on eight carries, while Reaves gained 83 yards.
"I think it's as sloppy defense as I've ever seen just as far as making plays," UCF coach George O'Leary said. "The coverage wasn't good and things you can't do in games and expect to win. Disappointing."
The Knights lost the time of possession battle for the first time this season, holding onto the ball for nearly 10 minutes less than their average of 35 minutes, 30 seconds.
The Blazers' first win didn't come without plenty of tense moments.
The Knights came right back after O'Leary inserted Bortles in the fourth quarter. Hall put him in good position for his first drive by returning a squib kick 39 yards to the UAB 41.
Bortles then completed his first four passes before Latavius Murray ran for the final yard to cut the gap.
Bortles passed this time to Murray, who made a nice cutback move en route to a 53-yard gain to set up a first-and-goal from the 6 for UCF on the next drive.
One run went nowhere and Bortles threw two incompletions to force Moffett's kick.
"I thought we should have put Blake in sooner," O'Leary said. "Obviously he had a little better grasp of what was going on out there."
Godfrey was 13 of 22 for 133 yards and an interception and directed touchdown drives on UCF's first two possessions, capped by leading rusher Brynn Harvey's first touchdowns of the season. Bortles was 6 of 10 for 102 yards, all in the final quarter.
The Blazers were also playing without injured tailback Pat Shed and an ailing left tackle Matt McCants.
Jackie Williams scored on a 4-yard end around on third-and-goal for the nine-point lead in the opening minute of the fourth.
Then the UCF defense came up big. Troy Davis and Kemal Ishmael stuffed Perry on fourth-and-2 from the UCF 32 midway through the fourth.
That set up the go-ahead field goal.
Long had given UAB a 16-14 halftime lead with a 45-yard field goal on the final play after Perry took over with 34 seconds left. He delivered a 25-yard pass to Nolen Smith and a 12-yarder to Williams to move into field goal position.
UCF had also missed a field goal in the half.
UCF (3-3) at UAB (0-6) Oct. 20, 8:00, CSS
Here’s The Deal … What is going on with UCF? The defending Conference USA champs, which looked so good after two weeks, have lost three of four games, including last Saturday’s 38-17 rout at the hands of SMU. The effort versus the Mustangs was eminently uncharacteristic of the Knights, which were sloppy in all phases of the collapse. Fortunately, just one of the program’s defeats came against a league foe, meaning the East Division is still very much in play as the second half of the season ensues.
The same cannot be said for UAB, one of the nation’s three remaining teams that have yet to taste victory in 2011. The Blazers’ most recent loss, to Tulsa, had a typical theme, with neither the offense nor the defense doing enough to buck this season’s woebegone trend. With each passing week, the speculation about the future of fifth-year head coach Neil Callaway becomes increasingly grim.
Why UCF Might Win: After being humbled by SMU, the Knights defense ought to get back to its old stingy self. UCF still leads Conference USA in just about every statistical category, and prior to last week, was the last remaining team to have not yielded a touchdown through the air. The unit closes quickly on the ball, especially in the back seven, which is headed by linebackers Jonathan Davis and Josh Linam, and defensive backs Josh Robinson and Kemal Ishmael. Complicating UAB’s already tall task is a knee injury to RB Pat Shed that’s going to keep the team’s top rusher out of Thursday’s game.
Why UAB Might Win: The Blazers are not going to score a lot of points at Legion Field, but will they need to in order to win for the first time in 2011? The UCF attack has been anemic over the last four games, averaging only 15 points. The Knights are moving the ball, but too often stalling deep in opposing territory. Without Shed to provide support on the ground, UAB will put its fate on the right arm of veteran QB Bryan Ellis. The senior returned from injury last week to go 20-of-42 for 280 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. When on target, he can carry a team by dishing the ball out to top receivers Jackie Williams, Nick Adams and Patrick Hearn.
What To Watch Out For: If the Knights offense cannot get back on track this week, the unit might be a lost cause this season. The 118th-ranked Blazers have been a wreck on defense this year, allowing three touchdown passes in a game on four separate occasions. UCF QB Jeff Godfrey has been unable to match his rookie debut so far, at least as a passer. While he’s run for eight scores, he’s only thrown for two on 141 attempts. Now is as good a time as any to begin sparking the attack, and making more connections through the air.
What Will Happen: While UAB is fading, UCF will use this week as a wake-up call. The Knights realize that they still have plenty to play for, including the defense of their 2010 conference championship. They’ll overwhelm the one-dimensional Blazers offense with speed and tenacity, creating a short field for their own offense. Godfrey and his cohorts will flash some long-awaited effectiveness with the ball, getting ample help on the ground from RB Brynn Harvey.
CFN Prediction: UCF 31 … UAB 13
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