CFN Take: UCF Shocks ECU On Hail Mary
Central Florida Golden Knights
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 4, 2014


UCF Knights 2014 ... Head Coach: George O'Leary


2014 UCF Knights

2014 Schedule
Record: 9-3

Aug. 30 Penn St (in Ire) L 26-24
Sep. 6 OPEN DATE
Sep. 13 at Missouri L 38-10
Sep. 20 Bethune-Cook W 41-7
Sep. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 2 at Houston W 17-12
Oct. 9 BYU W 31-24 OT
Oct. 18 Tulane W 20-13
Oct. 25 Temple W 34-14
Nov. 1 at Connecticut L 37-29
Nov. 8 OPEN DATE
Nov. 14 Tulsa W 31-7
Nov. 22 SMU W 53-7
Nov. 28 at USF W 16-0
Dec. 6 at East Carolina W 32-30
Dec. 4 UCF 32, at East Carolina 30
And You Care Because … UCF won a share of the American Athletic title with a 51-yard Hail Mary to Breshad Perriman that was more like a deep pass play than a true prayer – the ECU defensive backs misjudged the ball. The big play overcame a near-collapse, blowing a 26-9 fourth quarter lead after Shane Garden threw three touchdown passes for the Pirates in the fourth quarter including a 13-yarder to Justin Hardy with just over two minutes to play. All appeared lost for the Golden Knights, getting the ball back 65 yards away with ten seconds to go, and they got it done. ECU only managed a fumble recovery for a score and a Warren Harvey field goal in the first three quarters, but UCF couldn’t put it away with three Shawn Moffitt field goals and two short touchdown runs from William Stanback.
What Else? UCF RB William Stanback ran 24 times for 101 yards and two scores
- East Carolina QB Shane Carden completed 36-of-48 passes for 397 yards and three touchdowns with two picks
- East Carolina WR Justin Hardy caught 12 passes for 140 yards and a score
- Penalties; East Carolina 12 for 127 yards – UCF 6 for 40 yards
Game Rating: A-

Nov. 28 UCF 16, at South Florida 0
And You Care Because … UCF didn’t get the offense moving too well, but it came up with two big second quarter drives finishing with a seven-yard Breshad Perriman touchdown catch and a 21-yard Rannell Hall run for all the points needed. UCF DE Thomas Niles came up with a sack in the third quarter for the only other points. The Bulls only managed 200 yards of total offense.
What Else? UCF QB Justin Holman completed 20-of-29 passes for 150 yards and a score with a pick
- South Florida quarterbacks combined for 18-of-39 passes for 195 yards
- South Florida ran 22 times for five yards
- Third down conversions: UCF 11-of-18 – South Florida 5-of-14
Game Rating: C-

Nov. 22 at UCF 53, SMU 7
And You Care Because … UCF put the game away in the first quarter with a 27-0 lead on two touchdown runs from Dontravious Wilson and two Justin Holman touchdown passes including a 58-yarder to J.J. Worton. SMU got into the end zone in the second quarter on a five-yard Matt Davis run, but that was it for the fun as Michael Easton returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown as part of a run of 26 unanswered points helped by four field goals. SMU turned the ball over five times.
What Else? UCF QB Justin Holman completed 15-of-22 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns with two picks
- SMU QB Matt Davis completed 6-of-15 passes for 44 yards with an interception, and ran seven times for a team-high 40 yards
- UCF RB Micah Reed ran 26 times for 112 yards
- First downs: UCF 27 – SMU 4
Game Rating: D-

Nov. 15 at UCF 31, Tulsa 7
And You Care Because … UCF got up early with a 17-0 lead on two Justin Holman touchdown passes including a 77-yarder to Josh Reese. Tulsa finally got on the board late in the first half on an eight-yard Keevan Lucas catch, but that would be it for the offense. UCF scored 14 unanswered points, all coming in the third on Holman’s third touchdown pass and a one-yard Dontravious Wilson run.
What Else? Total yards: UCF 506 – Tulsa 201
- UCF QB Justin Holman completed 16-of-27 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 9-of-28 passes for 69 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions
- Time of possession: UCF 37:02 – Tulsa 22:58
Game Rating: D

Nov. 1 at Connecticut 37, UCF 29
And You Care Because … Helped by four interceptions, Connecticut shocked UCF with two Chandler Whitmer touchdown passes including plays from 38 and 22 yards away to Noel Thomas, and helped by two Ron Johnson short scoring runs on the way to a 37-21 lead. UCF came up with several big plays to try to stay alive, with J. J. Worton catching a 73-yard touchdown pass and Breshad Perriman coming up with a 16-yard play – to go along with two short touchdown first half runs from William Stanback in the first half – but the final drive stalled at midfield.
What Else? Penalties: Connecticut 10 for 102 yards – UCF 8 for 89 yards
- Connecticut RB Deshon Foxx ran 11 times for 102 yards and a score
- UCF RB William Stanback ran 28 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns
- Connecticut DB Andrew Adams picked off three passes
Game Rating: B-

Oct. 25 at UCF 34, Temple 14
And You Care Because … UCF’s D came up with four takeaways, and the O got up early with 17 first quarter points helped by the first of two Justin Holman touchdown passes and the first of two short scoring runs from William Stanback. Temple tried to must a rally, getting a three-yard Romond Deloatch catch and a blocked punt for a score in the second, but UCF scored ten unanswered points as Shawn Moffitt hit his second field goal and Stanback ran for a two-yard touchdown.
What Else? Third down conversions: 11-of-20 – Temple 3-of-13
- UCF WR Breshad Perriman caught seven passes for 146 yards and a score
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 15-of-26 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and ran nine times for six yards
- UCF RB William Stanback ran 27 times for 94 yards and two touchdowns
Game Rating: C-

Oct. 18 at UCF 20, Tulane 13
And You Care Because … UCF came up with a big second quarter on two Shawn Moffitt field goals and a one-yard William Stanback touchdown run, and Breshad Perriman took a pass 45 yards for a score in the third on the way to a 20-6 lead. Tulane could only manage two Andrew DiRocco field goals early, but finally got into the end zone in the fourth on a nine-yard Lazedrick Thompson run to pull within seven. The Green Wave had a few late chances, but UCF came up with two fourth down stops to hang on.
What Else? UCF quarterbacks combined to complete 12-of-23 passes for 139 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions
- Tulane QB Nick Montana completed 18-of-42 passes for 147 yards and two interceptions, and ran five times for 24 yards
- Turnovers: UCF 4 – Tulane 2
- Fourth down conversions: Tulane 0-for-4 – UCF 0-for-3
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 9 at UCF 31, BYU 24 OT
And You Care Because … William Stanback ran for a four-yard score in overtime to give UCF the lead, and BYU couldn’t answer with its fourth down throw into the end zone misfiring. In a game of runs, UCF got up 10-0 in the first helped by a five-yard run from Justin Holman, and then it was all BYU with 24 straight points on three Christian Stewart touchdown passes, with two to Devin Mahina from 15 and 14 yards out,, and a 32-yard Trevor Samson field goal. UCF rallied back with a second Stanback touchdown run and a 37-yard Josh Reese scoring grab, but after tying it, the Knights couldn’t win in regulation with Shawn Moffitt missing a 46-yard field goal and getting his 50-yarder blocked with four seconds to play.
What Else? BYU QB Christian Stewart completed 22-of-37 passes for 153 yards and three scores with a pick, and ran 13 times for 52 yards
- UCF LB Terrance Plummer made 17 tackles with a sack, 4.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble
- UCF QB Justin Holman completed 30-of-51 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions
- Turnovers: UCF 4 – BYU 2
Game Rating: B

Oct. 2 UCF 17, at Houston 12
And You Care Because … Down five late, Houston’s wild rally fell just short as Greg Ward dove for the end zone pylon and fumbled the ball just inches short of the goal line for a touchback and a UCF win. The Knights had a 17-6 lead into the fourth on two Justin Holman touchdown passes including a 52-yarder to Breshad Perriman, but Houston’s Kyle Bullard kept the game alive with field goals from 39, 42, 51 and 49 yards out. Ward almost pulled it out.
What Else? Penalties: Houston 11 for 99 yards – UCF 10 for 99 yards
- UCF QB Justin Holman completed 6-of-18 passes for 101 yards and two scores, and ran nine times for 32 yards
- Houston QB Greg Ward completed 10-of-17 passes for 116 yards, and ran for nine yards, and John O’Korn completed 12-of-26 passes for 98 yards with two picks
- Total yards: Houston 331 – UCF 228
Game Rating: C

Sept. 20 at UCF 41, Bethune-Cookman 7
And You Care Because … Sluggish early, UCF was down 7-3 in the second quarter before exploding for 38 unanswered points with Justin Holman throwing two scoring passes and William Stanback running for touchdowns from nine and two yards out.
What Else? Bethune-Cookman was hit with 17 penalties for 137 yards. UCF was penalized six times for 75.
- UCF RB William Stanback ran 15 times for 104 yards and two scores
- Yards per carry: UCF 4.1 – Bethune-Cookman 1.7
- Total yards: UCF 351 – Bethune-Cookman 173
Game Rating: D

Sept. 13 at Missouri 38, UCF 10
And You Care Because … Maty Mauk threw two touchdown passes to both Jimmie Hunt and Bud Sasser as Missouri rolled up a blowout win after a rough start. UCF took a 10-7 lead on a two-yard William Stanback touchdown catch, but Mizzou scored 31 unanswered points with Mauk finding Sasser from 22 and 21 yards out and Duron Singleton finishing things off with a fumble return for a score in the final seconds.
What Else? Maty Mauk continues to have issues with his accuracy, completing 14-of-24 passes, but he made them count with 144 yards and four scores with a pick.
- Missouri was able to run without much of a problem with Marcus Murphy taking off for 94 yards on 14 carries and the team averaging over five yards per pop.
- Turnovers killed UCF. The late one didn’t matter, but four on the day hurt any chances of keeping the early lead. Justin Holman threw for 209 yards with a touchdown and two picks.
- UCF LB Terrance Plummer led all defenders with 12 tackles and a tackle for loss, but Mizzou DE Shane Ray was the star making seven tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble and four tackles for loss.
Game Rating: C

Aug. 30 Penn State 26, UCF 24
And You Care Because … Sam Ficken nailed a 36-yard field goal with as time ran out to give Penn State a thrilling win. UCF drove 75 yards in eight place finishing with a six-yard Justin Holman touchdown run for the lead with just 1:13 to play, but Christian Hackenberg was able to drive the Nittany Lions 55 yards to get Ficken – who nailed four field goals on the day - in a position for the win.
What Else? It was a thrilling finish and an excellent start to the first college football Saturday, but Penn State showed how much work there is to do with nine penalties, three turnovers, and horrible clock management on the final drive. A win is a win, and James Franklin is 1-0.
- UCF found its quarterback. Pete DiNovo couldn’t get the offense moving, but Justin Holman came in and was fantastic, completing 9-of-14 passes for 204 yards and a score to go along with two rushing scores. He was poised and effective – he threw the ball like a grizzled veteran.
- Christian Hackenberg looked every bit the 2016 No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick completing 32-of-47 passes for 454 yards and a score. There were two picks, and he needed to hustle a bit more late, but he got the job done.
- Any questions about the Penn State run defense and the replacements needed on D? UCF ran 29 times for 24 yards, but Penn State couldn’t run, either, getting stuffed for 57 yards and a score on 28 carries.
Game Rating: B+
 
UCF Preview 2014 
 


What can the Knights possibly do for an encore?

UCF authored in 2013 the kind of season that was fit for Disney World—a program-record 12 wins. Capturing the first American Athletic Conference title. And shockingly upsetting heavily-favored Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl to finish No. 10 in the AP. Now what?

Head coach George O’Leary plans to capitalize on last season’s unprecedented success and notoriety by employing the same formula that’s served him so well over the past decade in Orlando. He and his staff plan to work harder than ever to ensure that their program doesn’t lose any steam following the kind of breakout campaign teams dream about, yet rarely ever achieve. For the Knights, maintaining the momentum hinges on revamping the offense, specifically the backfield.

UCF is fully capable of competing for back-to-back conference crowns. National respect and attention, though, will be much harder to attain now that franchise QB Blake Bortles is a Jacksonville Jaguar. In Bortles, the Knights lost more than just one of the premier quarterbacks in college football. They’ll be missing their offensive identity and catalyst.

The Knights are well-fortified on both sides of the ball. The receiving corps could be among the ten best in the country. The defense returns nine starters, spearheaded by an air-tight, veteran secondary. As a rule, UCF is still a very fast football team. But the potential of the program in 2014 is going to be dictated by the performance of the new quarterback.

Bortles is gone, and no one anticipates his successor to play like a future first-rounder, at least no this soon. The heir apparent, though, will be expected to limit mistakes, while maximizing the speed of the wide receivers and tight ends. UCF is auditioning three players, , sophomore Justin Holman, redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo and incoming rookie Tyler Harris.

The trio expects to be joined in the summer by Orlando native Nick Patti, a mobile Boise State transfer who’s hoping to be available immediately. Holman was last year’s backup, but he only attempted 14 passes. DiNovo was the Knights’ scout team player of the year. Harris is a three-star recruit who enrolled in classes in January.

UCF is currently at the peak of its football existence, which began in 1979. The Knights couldn’t be much higher on the college football food chain than they are at this very moment. Or could they? O’Leary and his kids can double-down on last season’s success by remaining ranked and relevant in the post-Bortles era.

What to watch for on offense: The skill position players will dominate. The offense is a concern this offseason, but not because of the returning talent at running back, wide receiver and tight end. The Knights are loaded, which will help with the transition of the new quarterback. UCF won’t skip a beat in the running game now that Will Stanback is replacing Storm Johnson. And the pass-catchers are dynamite. Speedy UAB transfer Jackie Williams is being added to an electrifying corps that already includes Rannell Hall, J.J. Worton and Breshad Perriman.

What to watch for on defense: Teams planning on beating UCF this season better not fall behind. Opponents will want to test the front seven of the Knights, because the secondary has steel trap potential. On the last line of defense will be four returning starters, Brandon Alexander, Jordan Ozerities and all-stars Jacoby Glenn and Clayton Geathers. If this quartet knows that the other guys have to throw, it’ll rob them blind. The recipe for beating the UCF D in 2014 involves fast starts that keep teams from abandoning the ground game.

The team will be far better if … the defense improves in the red zone. The Knights didn’t have many issues on D prior to the Fiesta Bowl shootout with Baylor. The exception? Clamping down with their back against the wall. UCF had a bad habit of getting soft at the tail end of drives, ranking 109th nationally in red-zone stops. A year ago, the Knights had Blake Bortles and the offense to bail them out. With Bortles gone, the team has less margin for error than it did in 2013.

The Schedule: Can the Knights get by Penn State two years in a row? They kick things off in Ireland in a strange opening day start, but they get two weeks off to get past jeg lag before facing Missouri. Throw in a key conference road game at Houston, and three of the first four games are on the road. But then comes the payoff. A whopping five home games in teh next six are in Orlando, and while USF is a road game, it's just down the road a bit before closing out with a make-or-break game at East Carolina.

Best offensive Player: Senior WR J.J. Worton. There are bigger receivers in Orlando. And faster ones, too. But no one is tougher or more important to the success of the attack than Worton, the Knights’ most consistent and clutch pass-catcher. He brings 132 career receptions for 1,846 yards and seven touchdowns into his finale, often selling out his body to make a catch. The intensity and sure-hands of Worton are going to be especially important in a year that UCF is breaking in an unproven quarterback.

Best defensive Player: Senior LB Terrance Plummer. The Knights are bringing back a lot of talent to the defense in 2014. No one is more instrumental to the unit’s success than Plummer, a third-year starter with 235 career tackles. He’s added muscle since arriving in Orlando without sacrificing speed or agility. Plummer is as versatile as he is chaotic, leaving an unmistakable imprint on the run defense, pass defense and pass rush. He’s a heady player UCF can always count on to come up with a big stop.

Key player to a successful season: The new starting quarterback. It’s the obvious missing link for a program that would have been a fringe College Football Playoff threat had Bortles returned for his senior season. The Knights have concerns, such as on the lines, but nothing that compares to the worries regarding the quarterback situation. Out of Holman, DiNovo, Harris and Patti, someone has to emerge into a consistent playmaker, who moves the chains and keeps his turnovers to a minimum.

The season will be a success if ... UCF wins the American in back-to-back seasons. Sure, Bortles is gone, but so is Louisville and Rutgers. While the Knights won’t have a clear path to the crown, they do begin the season with momentum and one of the deepest rosters in the conference. They’ll be battle-tested by the time the league schedule gets cranking, opening the season in Dublin, Ireland versus Penn State, and facing Mizzou and BYU out of conference.

Key game: Dec. 4 at East Carolina. If this nationally-televised affair doesn’t decide the American champion, it’ll absolutely have some impact on the final outcome. The Knights and the Pirates are two of the league’s premier teams this season. While UCF is the defending champ, East Carolina will be eager to dethrone its visitor in front of a raucous Dowdy-Ficklen crowd. The Shane Carden vs. the UCF secondary matchup alone makes this regular season finale one of the can’t-miss conference games of the year.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Touchdown passes: UCF 16 – Opponents 13
- Red-zone TD%: UCF 60% – Opponents 68%
- First-quarter scoring: UCF 95 – Opponents 37

- 2014 UCF Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Player To Watch Out For


DD
 

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