PROVO — Charles Kano, senior writer for truebluecougars.com, spoke with University of Central Florida insiders Marc Daniels, play-by-play voice of the UCF Knights on 740theGame.com, and Iliana Limon, a blogger for the Knight Notepad of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. He asked them a series of questions to help Cougar fans get some insider views on UCF Knights football in anticipation of the UCF-BYU game in Provo this Friday night.
What is the buzz around the Knights’ camp and the campus about the match-up against BYU?
Daniels: The loss to FIU was really deflating to the fans and players. Fans have seen the momentum that UCF has built over the past few years winning a couple of conference titles, getting a top 25 ranking and really manhandling Boston College a few weeks ago. The loss to FIU was very uncharacteristic of a George O’Leary coached team. They were disappointed but need to have a quick turnaround going into their game with BYU.
Limon: UCF fans expect this game to be a challenge. They are also anxious to see if the Knights can correct the mistakes from last week’s game as most were not expecting a loss against FIU. Most UCF fans thought the program was much further along. The players have acknowledged that they had the right game plan but did not perform well enough to win.
What are the UCF coaches and players saying about BYU at this point?
Daniels: UCF is past the wow factor of playing a team like BYU, not that they don’t respect them, just that they feel that can play with anyone. Coach O’Leary has said that they are throwing out the Utah game because they don’t feel it is representative of Bronco Mendenhall's team. They are anticipating a big, tough offensive line and an aggressive attacking defense. Coach O’ Leary and his staff also respect the schedule that BYU has played so far, including the physicality of the Cougar team.
Limon: On offense they are going to try and establish the run against the BYU defense. They are used to playing defenses with a lot of speed. They see the BYU defense, especially the defensive line, as maybe not being as fast but having good size and power.
The defense is looking at Heaps as the main threat on offense. One player said this week that they watched the Utah game but aren’t going to be fooled into thinking that they will see the same team in Provo.
What has been learned about UCF at this point in the season?
Daniels: The defense is very good, despite the loss. They are ranked top 5 in almost every defensive category. The defense is returning many of their core players from last year and has a very strong secondary.
Limon: Defense has performed well, only one touchdown given up at this point. However they really haven’t been tested by a team like the Cougars. BYU will be a step up in competition, and Heaps will be the best quarterback they will probably play this year.
On offense, Jeff Godfrey is a legitimate dual threat quarterback. He has really made a reputation for himself as a player who does not make a lot of mistakes. He is a good runner but also broke the Miami-Dade County high school passing record in high school, so he can throw the ball.
Will the altitude in Provo be a factor for the Knights?
Daniels: Coach O’Leary is not making it a factor. In 2002, UCF went to Logan and played USU and lost by 3, but the altitude was not a memorable factor in that game. If anything, this might be a mental factor more than anything. I don’t know if they are doing anything special in practice as far as conditioning, but they are not really discussing it.
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