UCF vs Southern Miss: Game Preview

Game preview for the UCF Knights as the Southern Miss Golden Eagles come to Orlando.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles vs. UCF Knights
Saturday, November 8th, 2008 3:30pm EST
Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando, Florida

UCF 2-6, Southern Miss 3-6

Last week: The Knights blew a 10 point halftime lead and fell at home in overtime to ECU, 13-10. Southern Miss got things clicking on offense, routing UAB 70-14.

Southern Miss offense- 12th overall (31st passing, 14th rushing); Scoring- 26th- 33.6 ppg. vs. UCF defense- 58th overall (88th passing, 37th rushing); Scoring- 89th- 29.9 ppg.

The Golden Eagles have struggled to win close games throughout the year and a lot of frustration from a disappointing season was taken out against UAB, as Southern Miss destroyed the Blazers, 70-14.

Southern Miss has a lot of youth on offense but the unit seems to be finding its stride. The center point of the offense is running back Damion Fletcher. The junior has totaled 1,055 yards on the season, churning out 6.5 yards per carry.

While the quick yet powerful Fletcher has carried the load, there have been several freshmen who have been pertinent to Southern Miss' success on offense this year.

DeAndre Brown, a true freshman, is a former five-star recruit and is certainly playing like it. The 6'6" receiver has used his size to amass 10 touchdowns and 844 yards receiving. Throwing the ball to Brown is former freshman, Austin Davis. Davis has been extremely efficient for the Golden Eagles and will be the vocal point of the offense along with Brown in upcoming seasons.

Shawn Nelson has also been a big playmaker for Southern Miss since he was a freshman. Now a senior, Nelson is accumulating the best statics of his career and is on pace to gain close to 600 yards receiving.

Southern Miss' offensive line has had some growing pains, as right tackle was the only returning starter from last season. The unit has improved weekly and could have a repeat performance of last season when the Golden Eagles surprisingly won the battle in the trenches against UCF's defensive line.

The Knights' defense has had a lot placed on it shoulders this season and while the unit has tried hard to carry its load and then some, the defense can't continually be put in bad situations. UCF's secondary has been susceptible to big plays this year and the team will have to be on its toes against a potentially explosive Southern Miss offense.

Best offensive matchup for Southern Miss: DeAndre Brown vs. UCF's secondary- Although the Knights have a very good secondary, giving up big plays has been a problem. Brown might be one of; if not the most talented receiver UCF has seen this season, so the defensive backs must bring their ‘A' game.

Best defensive matchup for UCF: Defensive line vs. Offensive line- Will the Knights get pushed around this year? It's highly doubtful. UCF's line has been stout against the run for most of the season and the Golden Eagles have a fairly undersized offensive line, meaning that the Knights should get good push up front.

UCF offense- 119th overall (112th passing, 97th rushing); Scoring- 111th- 17.9 ppg. vs. Southern Miss defense- 100th overall (87th passing, 93rd rushing); Scoring- 87th- 29.4 ppg.

With just four returning starters back from last season, Southern Miss has struggled with inexperience at times defensively.

One of the few experienced starters is middle linebacker, Gerald McRath. The junior has totaled over 100 tackles this season and is an explosive sideline to sideline player. Tokum Abanikanda, another returning starter, has also had a solid year lining up next to McRath, accumulating 64 tackles on the year, eight going for a loss.

Southern Miss' line has been impressive, with nose tackle Anthony Gray leading the way. Gray has six sacks on the year, which leads the team. Southern Miss rotates a lot of players on the defensive line because the team has solid depth amongst the front four.

The secondary is comprised mostly of juniors and sophomores, so experience has been somewhat of a problem for Southern Miss here too. The defensive backs have been beaten on several occasions, but UCF's quarterbacks need to be aware of the playmaking ability that the Golden Eagles have too, as the team has totaled 11 picks on the year.

Best offensive matchup for UCF: Wide receivers vs. Southern Miss secondary-The Knights' receivers should be able to get open against a young secondary. If receivers like Brian Watters and Kamar Aiken can catch the ball and if the quarterback finds them, UCF could put up some quick points.

Best defensive matchup for Southern Miss: McRath vs. Brynn Harvey- Harvey has stepped up, but he will have a difficult time running the ball if he cannot find room. Even if UCF's makeshift line gets things going, the freshman will have to outmaneuver the explosive McRath.

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