UCF Knights vs. Miami Hurricanes
Location: Orlando, Florida (Bright House Networks Stadium)
Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
Records: UCF 3-2 (1-2 in C-USA), Miami 4-1 (2-1 in ACC)
UCF: The Knights come off a bye week and that could be a good thing. While UCF hasn't fared well recently during off weeks, the Knights had several players banged up on both sides of the ball and the rest should help out. UCF is back alive in the conference after putting on a show against Memphis in the second half two weeks ago.
Miami: It's early in the season but there is every indication that the Hurricanes are back. Miami is 4-1 and has beaten some top-tier opponents. The team's offense is rejuvenated with Mark Whipple calling the shots at offensive coordinator and the defense is strong as usual.
UCF Offensive vs. Miami Defense
UCF: Things are starting to come together for the Knights. The offensive line is beginning to get settled, Brynn Harvey is becoming a more physical runner every week and receivers like A.J. Guyton are pushing other players ahead of them. Quarterback Brett Hodges has been very impressive at times and now the offense needs to work on becoming more consistent.
Miami: The Hurricanes haven't been dominant on defense this year but they've been more than solid, allowing 23 points per game. What makes this unit special is that it has come up with big plays in clutch moments. Colin McCarthy is a stout outside linebacker who leads the team with over seven tackles per game. The front four ahead of him have made life easy so far this season, as Joe Joseph (a former Orlando high school star) and Josh Holmes form a nice inside run-stopping duo. Marcus Robinson is a big play maker at defensive end but the team is trying to overcome some injuries on the line. Defensive end Eric Moncur and safety Randy Phillips might miss Saturday's game and another Orlando native and true freshman, Ray Ray Armstrong, might get the nod at safety. Brandon Harris has developed into a stud at cornerback.
Key Matchup: Brett Hodges vs. Miami's secondary- Miami will be tough upfront so it stands to reason that Brynn Harvey won't surpass 200 yards rushing for the second consecutive game. That means the offense will have to come from Hodges. He will face an extremely gifted secondary with tons of athletes and Hodges will have to be poised and make all the right throws for the Knights to come out on top.
UCF Defense vs. Miami Offense
UCF: It will be a simple formula for UCF; play fundamental defense. The Knights won't have nearly as much speed as Miami so they will have to play heady football instead. That means the team can't miss assignments and more importantly, it can't miss tackles. Jarvis Geathers and Bruce Miller have both had big games this year and must consistently bring pressure off the edge. The team's best playmaker on defense, Derrick Hallman, might stay at linebacker in order for UCF to take away underneath patterns and force Miami to beat them in other ways than getting yards after the catch. It will be interesting to see who starts at corner for the Knights as well.
Miami: Jacory Harris has been huge for Miami. The true sophomore has been efficient and has distributed the ball to playmakers like Travis Benjamin and Leonard Hankerson. A massive offensive line has certainly helped get the offense get back on track and so have the efforts of Javarris James and Graig Cooper, two exceptionally talented running backs who will likely be playing on Sunday's. Miami is balanced and will take whatever the defense gives it.
Key Matchup: Defensive line vs. Offensive line- You have to know going into this game that if you're UCF, you won't shutdown Miami's skill position players. They have too much speed and depth to ignore, so the Knights will have to avoid heavy blitzing in passing situations. That means that the front four must not only hold the fort down on running situations but more importantly, it must get to Harris without much help. Oh, you also have to account for Harris to run the ball too as he can make plays with his feet.
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