Game Preview: UCF vs SC State

The most important things for UCF in their first game of the season against SC State, as well as what to look for.

UCF Final Preview
South Carolina State Bulldogs vs. UCF Knights
Saturday, August 30, 2008 - 6:00 p.m.
Brighthouse Networks Stadium, Orlando, FL
Kickoff temperature:
87 degrees

Five most important things for UCF:

1. Remember Appalachian State! This should be the battle cry of every big school against a perceived weaker opponent. If App. St. can go into the Big House in Michigan last year and come out with a win, it would be far less newsworthy if S.C. St. goes into Brighthouse Networks Stadium and beats the Knights. UCF can't look ahead to their revenge game against USF next week, or they may find themselves in a major dogfight against the Bulldogs.

2. Be safe with the football. For S.C. State to pull the less than monumental upset, UCF is going to have to help them along the way with penalties and turnovers. If the Knights offense can simply hold on to the football and force the Bulldogs to play with a long field against the talented UCF defense, they should notch a "W".

3. Lean on the running game.
The bigger, stronger Knights offensive line should be able to wear down the Bulldogs if they keep pounding with the running game. Even though Kevin Smith is no longer in Orlando, UCF has enough talent with Ronnie Weaver and the stable of freshman backs to find success against S.C. St.

4. Get started early.
It's not that the Knights can't come from behind, but they shouldn't have to. If UCF can get ahead on the scoreboard early, they can break the will of the visiting Bulldogs, who don't have much experience or success against FBS programs.

5. Be solid in special teams. Nobody that has seen the Knights in practice this spring or summer expects a University of Florida-like explosive offense. The Knights will win games with solid defense and special teams, and they must do the little things, such as get good snaps, good punts, and convert on their field goal attempts.

What to look for:

1. Look for the Knights to force at least three turnovers. SC State will be entering a loud atmosphere in which they probably won't be fully prepared for. To add to that, they will face the best secondary that the school has ever faced. Look for Joe Burnett, Johnell Neal, and company to finish with a few picks.

2. A big fourth quarter on the ground for the Knights. The size disparity of the Knights lines will wear on the visiting Bulldogs and it should really take it's course by the fourth period. Look for the Knights to pull away on the ground.

3. An efficient performance by Michael Greco.
It's Mike's team and we believe he's going to be up to the task. Greco will throw when he has to and be a weapon on the ground as his QB rating tops 100.

4. A close game in the first half. UCF simply doesn't possess the firepower to jump on any team 21-0 early.

5. A big play by the special teams. Whether it be a blocked punt, a big return, or a forced fumble, look for UCF's special teams to make a highlight.

Final thoughts: Appalachian State made it difficult for small-school underdogs to sneak up on anyone with their monumental victory over Michigan. UCF may struggle early do to a lack of cohesion, but they will roll late and Coach O'Leary won't let his team look past SC State.

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