Keys to the Game for the Knights:
1. Win the first half- Both UCF and ECU have peaked at different parts of their respective games this season. The Knights have had a tendency to come out with energy in the second half after somewhat lethargic play in the beginning of games and the Pirates have been outscored 41-5 in the second half of games in 2009. Both teams will be pumped up early on but it's crucial for UCF to hang in there the first half and then make adjustments during the break.
2. Be aggressive Brynn- Brynn Harvey hasn't been bad early on, but he hasn't been explosive. Coach O'Leary has gotten on Harvey for not pushing the pile and finishing off runs so if he takes that to heart, Harvey could start churning out longer carries. We know he can take care of the ball and be a safe runner but he must be explosive for most of the afternoon.
3. Don't be intimidated- This will be the best front four and front five UCF has faced to date. ECU has a ton of size on both of its lines, but the Knights aren't small either. UCF's defensive line has to send a message early and often and the offensive line most be aggressive from the beginning.
4. Take the crowd out of the game- Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium isn't an easy name to say without laughing nor is it an easy place to play. Pirates' fans are some of the best in the conference and it will be a packed house. If UCF lets the crowd impact the game too much, it could be a long afternoon. With that in mind, time consuming drives, big special team plays and third down conversions will be optimal for taking the ECU faithful out of the equation.
5. Pick on Pinkney- ECU's senior quarterback, Patrick Pinkney, has the ability to be explosive at times but he can also be awful too. The Knights need to make sure they don't let him get in a rhythm and throw different looks at him through the game. Ultimately, an effective four man pass rush would be great but that's not always the case. UCF's corners will need to hold their own if the line has to play contain at times.
What to Look For:
1. Look for a physical game in the trenches. The C-USA usually isn't known for old-fashioned, grind them out type of games but these two teams play that style. Both teams prefer to beat you up front and get the power running game going. Get used to it UCF fans because as the Knights enter conference play more frequently, you will hear less and less of weird terms like "fullback" or "I-formation."
Look for extracurricular activity. Call it a hunch, but you'll see some players getting into it at one point during the game. There isn't a lot of love amongst these two teams and their physical styles won't help that. Ultimately, this game is about two teams fighting for their postseason lives' early in the season. ECU doesn't want to go 1-3 overall and the Knights don't want to go 0-2 in the conference. With so much on the line, you can expect things to get a little chippy.
Look for less runs from Brett Hodges- The Knights have to be ecstatic that they got Hodges running so much on film from last week's game. UCF doesn't want to rely on Hodges' legs too much, especially against a physical and fundamental defense like ECU. Now the Pirates will have to respect the scrambling so UCF will take what the Pirates give them. That means less running for Hodges, which at the end of the day is probably a good thing.
Look for at least two interceptions total- With both defenses getting ready to pin their ears back and make life difficult for the opposing quarterbacks, expect a couple of interceptions. Who those picks will come from is hard to say, but both starters already have a few INTs to their name.
1. Over 262 yards of total offense for UCF- The Knights will surpass their season average in this one. The Pirates have given up nearly 400 yards per game this season, which is somewhat surprising. While ECU will bring its A-game this weekend, an improved UCF offense will likely continue its growth.
2. Kamar Aiken gets another touchdown- He found the end zone last week and he keeps knocking on the door. If ECU doesn't respect him then he'll make them pay.
3. Harvey surpasses 100 yards rushing- He's been closing to breaking a big play several times this season or he's missed a hole that could turn a three yard gain into seven. The staff is working with him on finishing runs and the extra attention should pay dividends.
4. Emery Allen builds on his performance last week- It was great to see Allen make some plays last week against Buffalo. He should see even more time this week and could be a potential difference maker for UCF.
5. ECU makes at least one big play through the air- Their wide receivers are solid with Dwayne Harris and Jamar Bryant itching to get more passes thrown their way. UCF has an inexperienced secondary and it's been picked on at times this season. The Pirates will definitely try to exploit that this week and will likely have some success doing it.
UCF vs. ECU- What to Look For
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