UCF Defense Up to the Challenge

There are no moral victories in college football, especially when you're trying to become an elite program. UCF may not have won Saturday's game at Miami, but their defense earned the respect of anyone in the nation that was watching.

A University of Miami offense with explosive playmakers all over the field and a strong-armed young quarterback came into Saturday's game averaging nearly 32 points per game. The UCF defense held them to just one drive of longer than 42 yards, and most of the ‘Canes points came from short fields off UCF mistakes.

"A game in which you can't give up points on mistakes and that's what we did," explained UCF head coach George O'Leary in his post-game press conference. "The first field goal came on a blocked punt, the second one was a personal foul which allowed them to keep the drive alive and move the ball, and we can't misjudge a punt return."

13 of Miami's 20 points came directly from UCF mistakes, and the longest drive following those mistakes was four plays. The only legitimate touchdown that Miami had to move the ball on was initially stalled, then given new life due to a questionable late-hit penalty on the sideline by linebacker Lawrence Young.

"The mistake that bothered me was the one on third down when we stopped them on a third and 13 and it was a fourth and seven and his answer was that he couldn't stop when he hit that tarp," explained Coach O'Leary. "It's true, you try running on the tarp out there. He tried stopping and he kept slipping, at least that's what he said. And the kid's a pretty honest kid and he hasn't had penalties, if it was another kid I would say ‘hey', but that's where that happened right on that tarp. So that led to seven and the blocked punt, our snapped blew protection, he had a tough day today so that led to nine points there and Joe's, that led to 16 points right there. We had an opportunity and we had to make plays but I didn't think this game was about penalties, it was about miscues on our part."

The Knights defense simply locked down a Miami offense that was full of five-star recruits and track stars at the skill positions. UCF was the tougher group, and they held time after time, despite being on the football field for nearly 11 minutes longer than the Miami defense. The Knights defense held Miami quarterback Robert Marve to the lowest number of completions in his young collegiate career, and star running back Graig Cooper to one of the lowest averages per carry of his young career.

"We're a solid defense," O'Leary said. "I think we're very stingy and we don't give up the big play ourselves and we don't make a lot of mistakes on defense and I thought Cooper is a good running back who made us miss a couple times and got some things done, but I thought we played a very solid game and really gave the ball to our offense in good field position that we didn't make hay with."

The Knights defense played well enough to win on Saturday, against anyone in the country. If the team had any offense whatsoever they would've pulled an upset that would've been a landmark victory in UCF history. Instead, they have to take the bye week to try and fix their offensive ineptitude and get ready for a big challenge at Tulsa on October 26th.

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