Bernstein Blog: Herded and Rounded Up

The Knights 30-14 victory at Marshall was hardly a thing of beauty for the football purist. There were five combined turnovers, 16 combined penalties, numerous dropped passes and snaps, and we even saw a first period in which both teams combined for no passing yards. That must be some kind of record.

Despite the ugly play and uglier game conditions, the Knights found an offense. Well, part of an offense. The team was able to impose their will and run the ball with success, even when the Thundering Herd knew it was coming. Isn't that what football is all about? Imposing your physical will on your opponent?

I'm not going to say the Knights didn't have a few bounces go their way because they did. In the first period, the Marshall punter couldn't handle the snap and the ball was rolling around in the end zone. Although it could've easily been recovered by a Marshall player and UCF would've been granted two points on a safety, Knights wide receiver Brian Watters recovered the ball for a touchdown, and the Knights were on their way.

On a similar play, Knights punter Blake Clingan dropped the snap, but the ball bounced perfectly back to him as if he meant to dribble it and ran 16 yards for a first down. It was finally time that lady luck smiled upon UCF, and the team converted those breaks into points.

Make no mistake about it, although the Knights caught some breaks they absolutely outplayed Marshall on their homecoming, in their climate, and deserved to win the game. Following a tough game a week ago against SMU wide receiver DeAndre Brown, Knights senior cornerback Joe Burnett was the definition of a shut-down corner as he held the very speedy Marshall wide receiver Darius Passmore to just one catch for five yards. That's nearly 90 yards beneath his per game average.

Torrell Troup clogged the middle and when Marshall was in third and short, they lost yardage. Bruce Miller played well against the run, logging a team high nine tackles, and put pressure on freshman quarterback Mark Cann as he registered one sack and four quarterback hurries. The Knights constant harassment of Cann didn't show up in the stat sheet as they only registered the one sack, but they forced him to be wildly erratic, and his leading receiver was Knights cornerback Sha'reff Rashad as he caught two of Cann's passes (as many as any Marshall player) and returned them 77 yards (more yardage than any Herd receiver).

Overall the experience at Marshall was a positive one for both the Knights and myself. I had the pleasure of sitting next to UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble and he is truly one of the most intelligent, nicest, respectful people I've ever had the pleasure of watching a game with. Neither of us saw sunshine, but we did see a Knights team that was inspired despite not having much to play for.

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