Knights Need 60 Minutes, Not 30

The UCF Knights have been a first half team for the most part this season. Despite their disappointing 2-5 record, the team from Orlando has given their opponents all they could handle in the first halves of games, before eventually succumbing after intermission.

The Knights have only trailed at halftime twice this season, and only once by more than three points. Just last Sunday against nationally ranked Tulsa, the Knights despite being 24 point underdogs, held a 19-14 lead at the break.

So what has gone wrong in the second half of games for these Knights? It's really hard to say. Most would point to one side making adjustments and the other side not, but that didn't seem to be the case last week.

"Obviously it was a tale of two halves," said Knights head coach George O'Leary. "The first half we went out and executed and did what we needed to do to keep the ball away from Tulsa. The second half we started off poorly with the kickoff and the 62-yard return. We are still in the game at 21-19. Then we are driving the ball to the 27-yard line and turn the ball over. From there we proceeded to get into a passing situation which we didn't want to get involved in because of the nature of the pressure they put on us. The offensive line is being ridiculed for a lot of what happened, but when you look at it, the running backs were involved in a couple of sacks. The quarterback himself held onto the ball when it called from him to get rid of it a little quicker."

Opponents defenses haven't played the Knights offense any differently in the cases of the USF, Boston College, Miami, and Tulsa games. It just seemed as if the UCF offense appears to hit a wall after intermission, and then they put the defense in tough, almost impossible situations.

"Defensively, I thought (they) played solid in the first half," O'Leary said. "In the second half, especially the fourth quarter, they tackled very poorly. As I told the players, the game was in grasp. We had an opportunity to get some things done, and if we played a full 60 minutes of just execution of what we practiced we would have made more of a game of it."

It doesn't matter who is at fault or why the Knights have been fading late in games, but the team definitely needs to get it fixed before the season really gets away from them. With a 2-5 record, that time is now. UCF is fortunate enough to still be able to control their own destiny despite the tough start, and could theoretically compete again for the C-USA title, but that involves winning out.

"If you have to win five to win the division so that you don't have to worry about not controlling where you end up, then I would say this is a red-letter game," Coach O'Leary explained when asked about the importance of this Sunday's tilt with ECU. "If you want to control your own destiny, then you cannot afford a setback."


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