ORLANDO – The day of the match has arrived! The Knights welcome the Bulls to the annual rivalry for the last time in the foreseeable future, as UCF leaves USF behind as they head to the Big 12 in 2023.
Here are the areas to watch in this game, starting with what the Bulls need to do to stay in the competition.
Bulls must start quickly or be slaughtered
The Bulls are not playing well, losing four straight games. Plus, USF were beaten 173-98 in those same four games. The âHere we goâ mentality could creep into the minds of USF players if they don’t get started quickly.
Considering how quickly UCF starts some of its games, this is a major concern for the USF coaching staff. Staying as close to the pin as possible will be essential for the Bulls to play their best 60 minutes of football possible.
If the Knights take a 14-0 or 17-0 lead, could USF come back? Plausible, but there is no history for the 2021 season that should give a strong belief that it could happen.
In order for USF to stay in this game, they must find the end zone at the start of the game. It could be a trick game like a double pass or chip flicker, but somehow the Bulls just have to step onto the board at the start of the game. If USF goes into the second quarter and it’s a seven-point game, and they’ve already found the end zone, the Bulls’ confidence and energy will likely increase.
We can bet that the head coach of the UCF Gus Malzahn will do everything possible to score early to create the opposite effect. He could also throw a trick or two. Keep that in mind.
Which quarterback best protects football?
UCF comes into play plus five in turnover (20 won, 15 lost), while USF doesn’t win the turnover battle as often by a margin of minus four (17 won, 21 lost). This category always has an impact on games, but it’s especially important when both teams start off as true first-year callers.
During the last four departures, Mikey Keene did not initiate an interception. If this trend continues, the Bulls will be in big trouble. When the USF has football, Timmy mcclain sometimes struggles to make the best decisions, much like Keene did for part of the 2021 season.
He made passes but to the wrong team. McClain’s five interceptions in his previous four games against the Bulls are a worrying sign for their prospects today.
Keep in mind that this is a rivalry game. Each click has more importance. A fumble recovery from a strip-sack is just as good, if not better, than an interception.
If one or both of these young players have a bad roll early on, how does that signal caller react?
The impact of McClain’s great game
Another important point to make is to note McClain’s physical skill. He could return the ball two or three times today. Who knows? He’s also quite capable of missing three defenders in space and running for an 80-yard touchdown.
In order for the Bulls to come out on top, McClain needs at least one, if not two, highlighted reel sets. He’s capable as a runner or passer, and one of those great games could be something he just creates. McClain is almost impossible to define in words. You have to see it live to fully understand its physical attributes.
How does UCF go after McClain?
Sometimes it’s best to send home and make a young quarterback fear rush. It’s possible and the Knights will likely use this strategy, at least at some point during the match. There is also another more conservative approach.
Will the Knights be able to get to McClain without blitzing and rushing four? Well, maybe UCF’s defensive coaching staff will really make the decision to cover and contain McClain in an effort to get him to throw the soccer ball.
The idea behind this theory would be interceptions via more defenders actually covered. Then again, maybe it’s just a mix of human cover, area cover, and game-to-game blitz. Make McClain think a lot more than he just naturally reacts to the room. Young callers usually struggle in these scenarios.
Whatever UCF decides to do, stop McClain from creating these “Wow!” Â»Plays will be the ultimate goal.
This is perhaps the area where UCF has the greatest advantage, at least on paper. The UCF is averaging 190.1 yards per game rushing, while the USF is averaging 164.7 yards per game.
With this in mind, UCF is more consistent in the management of football. Only one game this season has seen the Knights go under 100 rushing yards. The USF actually hits 100 yards every time they go out to play, but six of those games totaled less than 125 yards. The UCF has exceeded 190 meters on six occasions.
Now go Isaiah Bowser hitting the grill today? No one is likely to know that, Bowser himself included, until right before the game. Ankle injuries can be changed very easily. Even if he is ready to leave at 2 p.m., that means everything but nothing. He has to go through warm-ups and make deliberate hard cuts, and that ankle should feel great when and after making those cuts.
Otherwise, it is the Johnny richardson and Marc Antoine-Richards spectacle. Both are playing well, so Knights should be fine with or without Bowser.
Note that the USF allows 210.4 yards per game. The knights will run all over the bulls.
UCF is the far superior team, and with the game being in the Bounce House, there just doesn’t seem to be any good reason to believe this game stays in the twenty points.
UCF 49 USF 24
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