Inside the Numbers: UCF vs Buffalo

InsideKnights.com brings you our inside the numbers feature in which we go beyond the box score and break down what really happened in the Knights 23-17 victory over Buffalo.

Team Stat Comparison
 
1st Downs 20 18
3rd down efficiency
6-16 9-15
4th down efficiency
1-3 0-0
Total Yards 304 311
Passing 218 141
Comp-Att
23-36 15-20
Yards per pass
6.1 7.1
Rushing 86 170
Rushing Attempts
32 42
Yards per rush
2.7 4.0
Penalties 2-24 6-48
Turnovers 4 2
Fumbles lost
3 2
Interceptions thrown
1 0
Possession 28:14 31:46

Offensively, the Knights rebounded from a slow start and were ultra-efficient in the second half, mainly due to the play of quarterback Brett Hodges. Hodges was far superior to his excellent statistics, as he brings a calming presence to the UCF offense, and simply distributes the ball where it needs to go. Hodges also was able to run the spread option with great success, as he gained 71 yards on the ground to go along with his 15 for 20 passing performance for 141 yards. To put it simply, Hodges makes all of his teammates better.

The Knights' offensive line was much improved over a week ago, as they surrendered just two sacks, one better than last week. The big difference in pass protection was that UCF was picking up twists and stunts against a very fast set of Buffalo linebackers. The line leaned on the smaller Buffalo defensive line and opened up good holes for the running game.

The UCF running game was excellent as Brett Hodges added another dimension that many weren't sure he had. Brynn Harvey was two yards shy of the century mark with a pair of rushing touchdowns, but still left some yards on the football field as he missed some cuts and some holes.

The Knights' wide receivers look like a different group than what we saw a year ago. Kamar Aiken is beginning to live up to his ability and potential, as he pulled in a beautiful over-the-shoulder throw for a big 39-yard gain. Aiken finished with three catches for 53 yards, and had just one drop. Jamar Newsome is ascending to possession receiver status, as the relationship built with quarterback Brett Hodges when they were both on the second-string seems to be paying dividends. Rocky Ross still has inconsistent hands, but does a solid job of getting open without having elite speed.

Defensively, UCF made some great adjustments at halftime and came out in the second half and forced four turnovers in five possessions. The pass rush showed up in a big way in the form of defensive end Jarvis Geathers. Geathers speed off the edge accounted for three sacks and two forced fumbles. Torrell Troup did what Torrell Troup does, and that's clog up the middle and dominate the line of scrimmage. Troup finished with just three tackles, but cleared up room on countless plays for the linebackers to run free to the ball carriers.

The Knights' linebackers were solid, as Cory Hogue led his group with eight tackles, and Lawrence Young added six stops. The Knights linebacking corps remains solid, but they haven't been able to make too many big plays yet this season.

The UCF secondary is still a work in progress. Josh Robinson was in on six tackles, but missed plenty. Emery Allen did a nice job of sticking with Buffalo receivers, as did Kemal Ishmael. Darius Nall wasn't much of a factor, but ended up pouncing on a big fumble recovery. Derrick Hallman was the big play guy in the secondary, as he recorded eight tackles, forced a fumble, and had a big interception.

Special teams: It's amazing how far the kicking game has come in just two weeks. The kickers were abysmal in the season opener against Samford, and since Coach O'Leary made the move to Nick Cattoi, the kicking game has been money in the bank. Cattoi connected on all three of his field goal attempts (44, 22, 42 yards), and sent his kickoffs fairly deep near the goal line (it's nice to have kickoff opportunities this season). Cattoi did boot one kickoff out of bounds. The punting game wasn't quite as effective as the nation's most active punter a season ago, Blake Clingan, averaged just 31 yards per punt on just two attempts. Coverage units were excellent, and the return game was mediocre.

Coaching: The Knights have come from behind and outscored their opponents in the second half in each game this season. Clearly, the coaches are making the proper adjustments. Although the decision to kick a short field goal late in the game instead of going for a fourth and one was questionable, it worked out. The only disconcerting trend is that the Knights were beaten by trick plays in two of three games this season. Call it a young or overaggressive secondary if you may, but the players didn't look prepared for the triple-reverse wide receiver option (few teams are).


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