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The Daily Knight: Keys to Victory, East Carolina at UCF

Quarterback play for UCF and East Carolina will be important this Saturday. Additionally, the UCF defense will be challenged with containing two different East Carolina players inside the tackle box, and there needs to be a game-changing play.

ORLANDO - Can the Knights find the elixir to make this team take the steps necessary to win against East Carolina? There’s a fairly obvious path based on film and statistics of East Carolina. Now will UCF follow that path?

The Knights must do a really good job of containing East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers within the pocket, as defined in today’s podcast addition of The Daily Knight, to make him feel hurried and pressured. That’s when he will make errors. It also helps another area.

If the Knights do a quality job of holding the edges against East Carolina, running back Keaton Mitchell will likely have one of his worst games of the season. The film does not lie, as scouts and coaches alike tend to mention.

Mitchell makes the majority of his long runs based off of reaching the outside of a defense, often running along the sidelines towards the end zone. Once Mitchell does become hemmed in by the defensive players for the Knights, wrap up!

He’s a really strong running back. Do not allow the 180 pounds to fool anyone. Mitchell can run through arm tackles quite easily. As defensive tackle Cam Goode made reference to during his Monday press conference, “11 hats to the ball.” That means rallying to wherever Mitchell has the football. The Knights cannot assume anything until the whistle blows. A couple of other notes before the actual podcast.

The Pirates do a fantastic job of taking the football away. This is particularly the case in the middle of the field. UCF quarterback Mikey Keene must be ready to make the majority of his passes to the outside, avoiding very experienced linebackers and safeties that already proved capable of creating turnovers.

A couple of defenders to pay attention to includes linebacker Myles Berry, who's seemingly always near the football, and safety Warren Saba, shown below after an interception earlier this season. Both players represent the savvy nature of the linebackers and safeties playing for the Pirates.

Safety Warren Saba represents one of the players that Mikey Keene must be careful of throwing the football in his area.

Safety Warren Saba represents one of the players that Mikey Keene must be careful of throwing the football in his area.

Throwing to the perimeter would be in addition to avoiding cornerback Ja’Quan McMillian, the East Carolina cornerback that’s leading the nation in interceptions. He’s taken away four passes this season.

Finally, there needs to be a player to make a special play on defense and/or special teams. A scoop and score after Ahlers is sacked and fumbles the football, or a pick-six after a defensive back or linebacker jumps into the passing lane. 

Perhaps there’s a punt return for a touchdown. Whatever it might be against East Carolina, UCF needs a game-changing play to help energize the crowd inside the Bounce House. Here’s today’s version of The Daily Knight:

For UCF insights, college football news, and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. It will be found on iTunes and Spotify. For more UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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