UCF Game Preview- Southern Miss Golden Eagles

A so-so opening performance against Samford has caused some raised eyebrows amongst UCF fans and Saturday's performance against an explosive Southern Miss squad will determine exactly which direction UCF is headed.

UCF Knights vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Time: 7:00

Record: UCF- 1-0, Southern Miss.- 1-0

Team Overviews:

UCF- It wasn't the coming out party that the Knights expected, as they barely squeaked by the Samford Bulldogs last week, 28-24. That's the bad news. The good news is that there were plenty of good performances to build on and what the box score doesn't indicate is that the team appears a lot further ahead than last season.

Southern Miss- Unlike UCF, the Golden Eagles took care of business against their sub-division foes, as they defeated Alcorn St., 52-0. Southern Miss finished last season strong and the program looks to be headed in the right direction under Larry Fedora.

UCF Offense vs. Southern Miss Defense-

UCF- If you thought the quarterback drama was over, you were dead wrong. Rob Calabrese was yanked early against Samford after going 3-of-7. His replacement, senior Brett Hodges, looked poised as he led the team to three scoring drives, going 10-of-15 for a touchdown and a pick. The job is Calabrese's for now, but he his performance will be closely monitored…The running game was mediocre last week, as Brynn Harvey had some timely runs but never got into a consistent grove, averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. He was one cut away from breaking some big plays but he never could garner more than the line gave him, which wasn't too much…The receivers have grown by leaps and bounds but there were still way too many drops last week. Brian Watters, who was consistent during the summer, must especially step his game up.

Southern Miss- How's this for dominating; the Golden Eagles gave up just 10 first downs all game last week and allowed only 2.3 yards per carry. The Golden Eagles run a hybrid defense and will use different variations of the 3-4 and 4-3 to utilize their speedy players, but they should remain in a base 4-3…It all starts with junior Anthony Gray, a 6'0", 314 lb. nose tackle. He had four solo tackles last week and is considered one of the best defensive linemen in the conference. He does a nice job of getting low leverage and clogging up the middle for others to make plays…Andre Watson and Justin Wilson are solid corners who had seven picks total last year. They both have some starting experience and should give UCF's receivers fits.

Key Matchup- UCF's front five vs. Southern Miss' front four- This game will ultimately be won in the trenches. Sometimes you can get away with a so-so running attack (like last week) but the Golden Eagles have too many athletes across the board to not make you if you don't get it done on the ground. Harvey must make things happen this week if the Knights want to pull the upset.

UCF Defense vs. Southern Miss Offense-

UCF- There's no question that the Knights have talent all over the field on defense, but last week wasn't a highlight for the team. UCF wasn't bad on defense, but they have to be able to contain the big play this week, which happened too often against Samford. The Bulldogs were able to do way too much through the air against inexperienced corners and the Golden Eagles are substantially better as a throwing team than Samford…Torrell Troup had another solid performance but he didn't get the help he needed…The corners can't afford to get beat this game because the Golden Eagles will be looking for them to make mistakes all game long and they will make the Knights pay.

Southern Miss- Hold your breath and hope you can stop them because the Golden Eagles have the ability to be electrifying this year. Last week Austin Davis went 19-of-25 for three touchdowns in the bloodbath versus Alcorn State. Last year as a redshirt freshman, Davis emerged as a perfect fit for Fedora's up-tempo, spread offense, as he threw for over 3,000 yards and had 23 touchdowns to eight interceptions. He is a dual-threat player that will give you headaches…The guy lining up with Davis isn't bad either. Tailback Damion Fletcher is arguably the best back in the conference and he showed why last week, averaging over 6 yards per carry en route to a 126 yard, one touchdown performance…The team's most explosive player, DeAndre Brown, may or may not be able to go this week against the Knights. The 6'6" receiver is one of the most athletically gifted players in the region. If he can't go, the Golden Eagles will still have plenty of targets, as Freddie Parham leads the receivers as a potential home-run threat.

Key Matchup- UCF's ends vs. Davis- The Knights will be able to get some pressure against the Golden Eagles but Bruce Miller and co. must stay in their lanes and not get sucked in. If Davis establishes himself as a running threat then it will be a long day for UCF. The Knights must get to Davis regularly and bring him down when they get a hand on him.

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