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Thoughts on UCF's 'War on I-4' Victory Over USF

In what turned out to be a totally different game than just about everyone expected, the Knights hung on to beat the Bulls.

ORLANDO - Looking back at the game, there were so many opportunities for both teams to seize momentum and score points. A false start, a personal foul, a missed block, or even a missed read by either USF quarterback Timmy McClain or UCF quarterback Mikey Keene. In the end, it’s still going down in the history books as a UCF victory, 17-13 over USF.

So, a few takeaways from last night’s victory. Of course there’s the incredible individual play of Tre’mon Morris-Brash to bring down McClain with what would be the game’s final play. That’s one to be repeated over and over on every form of social media. There are four other areas to quickly touch upon, overall, in regards to how UCF and USF played.

Give it Your All

There’s one thing for sure. This game was hard hitting and non-stop full-bore from both teams. Regardless of the situation, both teams played like it was truly a rivalry game. That’s the way it should be.

In particular, the UCF and USF defenses did a great job of bowing up at the right moment’s to keep the other team’s offense out of the end zone more often than not. In fact, neither offense scored a touchdown during the second half of the game.

Overall, the obvious MVP for the Knights was linebacker Tatum Bethune with 18 total stops. That’s an incredible accomplishment during any game, especially against one’s biggest rival. Hats off to Bethune. To that end, many other players found ways to cause issues for their own team, UCF and USF both included.

Do Not Beat Yourself

Coaches use the above headlined phrase all the time. Well, both UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn and USF Head Coach Jeff Scott could run a clinic with video clips from both teams on what not to do in a rivalry game.

The number of boneheaded miscues was unfathomable, but that’s especially true with penalties. The Knights had seven penalties for 50 yards and the Bulls had eight penalties for 45 yards, and they just seemed to come at a time when it either stalled a drive completely, or kept the opponent’s drive alive.

USF’s first touchdown drive was all but stopped until a 15 yard penalty on UCF helped the Bulls continue to march towards the goal line. McClain eventually ran it in from five yards to tie the score at 7-7 on the final play of the first quarter.

That’s why coaches lose their hair.

USF Won the Battle Against UCF’s Passing Attack

The biggest individual matchup shock went to USF. Even with Jaylon Robinson back in the lineup at wide receiver, UCF only came up with 112 passing yards. That’s just plain pathetic. The Knights passed a total of 27 times, which equates to a 4.1 yards per pass average.

Coming into the game, USF was awful at stopping the pass. Even with holding UCF to 112 yards, the Bulls only moved up a few spots in the rankings. They are now allowing 264.2 yards per game, and are ranked No. 110 in the FBS out of 130 teams.

This is a major cause for concern as UCF gets ready to go to a bowl game with its final 8-4 regular season record.

Under no circumstance should UCF pass for that low of a total. Now, can the Knights correct the errors and make amends in the bowl game? The rushing attack could take off even further if the passing attack gets back on track.

UCF Running Game Continued to Excel

With 173 rushing yards and one touchdown, the Knights once again did a good job in the trenches to create running lanes for Mark Antony-Richards and Johnny Richardson.

Johnny Richardson gained 94 yards rushing and averaged 11.4 yards per carry against USF

Johnny Richardson gained 94 yards rushing and averaged 11.4 yards per carry against USF

It was another game without Isaiah Bowser at running back as he did not play. He is still recovering from an ankle injury. The two backups did fantastic in his absence behind an offensive line that took the best shot from the USF front seven.

USF really came downhill and tried to stop the Knights, but UCF did a good job overall. For the game, both Antony-Richards and Richardson ran hard and took advantage of opportunities created by the big fellas up front.

Richardson popped a 42 yard run and Antony-Richards produced a 26 yard run. Those big plays helped to change field position and momentum. That’s when a rushing attack did its job overall, too.

Final Thoughts

Anyone could rehash 20 different categories from this game and it still might not be enough. So many big plays, both good and bad, that led to a close contest that came down to the final play from scrimmage.

In the end, UCF fans should probably just be happy that their Knights came out with the 17-13 victory over the Bulls during the ‘War on I-4.’

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