Injured or Just Waving the White Flag?
It was certainly a surprise to many Knights fans when UCF sent backup quarterback Rob Calabrese out to take the snaps against then second-ranked Texas. Brett Hodges took plenty of shots in the Marshall game and he claimed to be sore when we spoke with him on Tuesday. Still, Hodges was excited about the opportunity to travel to Austin and play against the national power.
"It's awesome," Hodges said prior to the Texas game. "Not a lot of people can say they're going to play against the number two team in the country, at Texas too. That's just an opportunity that not a lot of people get, even some of the best teams in the country. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it and the rest of the team is looking forward to it."
We all know what happened with Calabrese taking the snaps as Hodges was suited up on the sideline. Knights head coach George O'Leary explained--
"You know my history, I don't hold anybody out," Coach O'Leary stated. "Everybody that was available to play played Saturday. They went on the trip and right up to Friday morning they were emergency only. Everybody that was available on the depth chart played that could play."
Did the Knights mail one in or were the starting quarterback (Hodges) and running back (Brynn Harvey) really unable to go? It's water under the bridge now, and if the Knights can pull the upset and win their remaining three conference games, the decision to hold out Hodges and Harvey will have been proven correct.
"They're in a three-game series and they understand we need to win," O'Leary said. "We're all 3-2 w/ the exception of ECU. This game is critical as far as where you want to end up in the conference."
Orlando, then New York?
Knights fans attending the Homecoming Game against Houston will be in for a treat as Cougars quarterback Case Keenum is one of the best players to play in the C-USA in recent years. Keenum leads the nation's top offense and his near-flawless command of his offense could have him in New York in a few weeks as a Heisman finalist.
"He's a very good player," Knights coach George O'Leary said. "He and Colt (McCoy), they have great accuracy and get rid of the ball well. They throw for 430 something yards a game offensively."
How do the Knights Slow Down the 15th ranked Cougars?
The best defense is an efficient, time-consuming offense. Case Keenum and company can pretty much score at will and if UCF is going to be able to hold them around their low point total (31), they will have to sustain long drives.
"You have to run the ball a little bit but I think you have to be yourself," O'Leary said. "I don't think you change your style, you have to be who you are."
Everyone in Orlando is well aware that they have to avoid getting into a shootout.
"I hope we don't have to match points," O'Leary said. "They're averaging about 45 ppg against good people. I think the key against these guys is that you got to keep field position. You need to secure some three and outs and get field position."
O'Leary is more confident that he'll have all his weapons this weekend, and he knows how big this and every game from here on out will be--
"Conference wise it is big. Every game is treated the same way and I'm hoping to get everybody back. They're a team you have to beat in conference and hopefully you get a chance to play them twice."
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