Each week, a few staff contributors will answer five questions regarding the upcoming events in UCF Knights sports. It’s a way to get the staff to come together as well as the rest of Knights Nation, to see if they agree or disagree with the crew at BGB.
This week, Jeff Sharon, Chas Short and Jeremy Brener take their seats at the roundtable to answer this week’s questions about tonight’s game against the Temple Owls.
1. Does McKenzie Milton need to play in order for the Knights to have a chance against Temple?
Jeff Sharon: I think so, but they can hide him. Temple head coach Geoff Collins is no fool. He was the D.C. here under George O’Leary, and worked alongside Randy Shannon at UF. If UCF starts Darriel Mack, he’s going to stack the box and dare him to throw against Temple’s top-five ranked pass defense. So if you’re going to run to beat the Owls’ 92nd-ranked run defense, you need to at least present the threat of the pass. So I expect KZ to play, even if the Knights hold him back and try to beat Temple on the ground.
Jeremy Brener: I have a hard time seeing UCF win with ease if Darriel Mack is under center tonight. I think if Mack shows signs of improvement and leads a tough rushing attack, then the Knights will be okay. The key to beating Temple is beating them on the ground and that is what the quarterback, whether it is Mack or Milton, will have to lead the charge with.
Chas Short: Absolutely not. We might be more limited with Mack, but Temple is still pedestrian on offense and we’d be able to outscore them.
2. If UCF loses, what would be the reason?
Jeff Sharon: Again: They beat themselves. A few key turnovers, missed tackles, special teams mistakes. That’s how the better team loses in a game.
Jeremy Brener: If they get down early and Mack struggles to maintain his composure in a tough environment. McKenzie is battle-tested, and if he plays, I think UCF will likely win the game. So a loss would come if Mack plays and simply can’t keep up with the pressure, much like McKenzie couldn’t do when Temple last came to Orlando in 2016.
Chas Short: It would mean that Milton did not play and Temple had a turnover margin better than +1.
3. With five different rushers in the last five games, who will lead the team in rushing this week?
Jeff Sharon: NOT KZ. I’m thinking this is Taj McGowan’s week. Temple’s weak run defense this year begs for the Knights to just pound the rock, and at the moment, no one can do that better than Taj.
Jeremy Brener: Greg McCrae. It’s his time to shine this week and I think that he brings a nice, welcomed change of pace that the Knights will appreciate tonight.
Chas Short: Greg McCrae, who works better in this offense than Killins does.
4. Who on defense needs to become a playmaker for this contest?
Jeff Sharon: I think it’s time for Savage Pat to get nasty. Jasinski spent much of the Memphis game on the sidelines with an injury and only tallied four tackles in the ECU game (although he did force a fumble). With Temple RB Ryquell Armstead presenting another challenge in the run game, Pat should be right in the middle of the action.
Jeremy Brener: I’ll go with Trysten Hill. This game is going to be won and lost in the trenches, and Hill is the anchor to that defensive line. If he is able to pick up a couple of TFL’s and force Temple into long third downs, UCF will be alright on the defensive side of the ball.
Chas Short: Savage Pat, especially if Temple’s star RB Ryquell Armstead is ready to play.
5. Give your score and attendance prediction.
Jeff Sharon: UCF 38, Temple 21. Just a hair over 40,000, because it’s the #UCFinSpace Game.
Jeremy Brener: UCF 42, Temple 21. I’ll go with 37,500.
Chas Short: Score could be very different depending whether Milton plays. I’m confident he will, and I’ll agree with Luke’s prediction of UCF 42, Temple 23. Attendance less than 42k announced.