What UCF Learned Against SMU

The Knights broke their three-game skid as they soundly defeated the SMU Mustangs, 31-17.

Five most important things for UCF:

1. Do something on offense. The Knights scored a season-high 31 points against a smaller, big play susceptible Mustangs defense. Although the Knights offensive output was enough to secure a victory, the offense still seemed to be stagnant at times.

2. Johnell Neal needs to step up. Neal certainly stepped up as he defended several SMU passes, and laid some bone-jarring hits. Neal finished with four tackles.

3. Big plays. The Knights made some big plays and gave few. Michael Greco's 56-yard touchdown strike to Brian Watters showed that the Knights can have a big-strike offense through the air, and Ronnie Weaver's 48-yard burst seemed to set a tone for the offensive line. Throw in some big punt returns by Joe Burnett and the Knights were semi-explosive. UCF did give up the 94-yard bomb to Aldrick Robinson, which was one of the few lowlights.

4. Hang on to the ball. The Knights committed just one turnover on a kickoff return by Darin Baldwin, which was an enormous improvement from the six they had a week ago at UTEP.

5. Get the crowd into the game. The Knights scored on the opening possession for the first time this year, and an enthusiastic audience stayed up for much of the game, despite some offensive struggles by the home team.

What to look for:

1. Look for the Knights to be more balanced. The ground-focused game plan of UCF worked well against the Mustangs, as they ran the ball 38 times and attempted just 17 throws.

2. Look for the Knights to play two quarterbacks. Head coach George O'Leary split the snaps equally as freshman Rob Calabrese played the first half and led the team to 10 points, and junior Michael Greco played the entire second half and had more than twice the production.

3. Look for special teams to make a big difference. The Knights special teams was indeed special on this night, as Joe Burnett was an explosive returner, Daren Daly connected on his only field goal attempt and made all four extra point attempts, and Blake Clingan routinely pinned the Mustangs deep in their own territory.

4. Look for the Knights to enjoy some home cooking. UCF bettered its record to 6-0 at Bright House Networks Stadium against Conference USA opponents, and they clearly looked like a better team than a week ago.

5. Look for some tricks and a good coaching duel. Just before halftime, the Mustangs tried a series of laterals that nearly backfired as Joe Burnett broke out of a pile and nearly took it to the house. The Mustangs also tried a surprise onsides kick.


Knights Daily Top Stories