Monday means the start of another game week for UCF football. Time to jump into North Carolina film and gear up for a trip to -- say what now?
Oh. About that ...
Hurricane Florence makes this seem like anything but a normal game week for UCF, seeing as there probably won't be a game at the end of it. But head coach Josh Heupel stressed that there is only one thing on his mind at this point: getting his players ready for that next opponent.
But much like how Florence is moving toward the East Coast, the Knights are staring directly at the prospect of seeing their schedule impacted by a hurricane for the third consecutive season. Hurricane Irma forced the postponement of a Memphis-UCF game and the cancellation of a meeting with Georgia Tech last season. A year prior, a UCF-Tulane game in Orlando was postponed by Hurricane Matthew and rescheduled for the following month.
Seniors such as defensive lineman Titus Davis and linebacker Pat Jasinski each said that all they can do is continue to prep for the Tar Heels, continuing with game plan installation, which begins Tuesday. However, Jasinski also admitted, "It would be pretty disappointing to lose a game; you only get so many opportunities and each one is important."
Here are some other highlights from Monday's presser.
Reviewing South Carolina State
Heupel said there were a lot of positives to take out of Saturday's shutout win over the Bulldogs. He praised the physicality of both of the front lines as well as the team's effort and energy in general.
Of course, there was that one glaring negative: quarterback McKenzie Milton's three first-half interceptions. As a former high-profile college quarterback himself, Heupel is well aware that even the best have some forgettable days.
"You're not going to have a perfect season," Heupel said. "... You play that position and you have the ball in your hand all the time, the other side of the ball is going to make some plays, too. We don't want it to happen, but at the end of the day, it's going to happen."
Heupel certainly doesn't expect Milton to suddenly shrivel up the next time he takes the field: "He's going to come out and let it rip."
Winning Up Front
Through two games, the Knights' offensive line has played an obviously critical role in the 427 rushing yards picked up by the team's running backs, including 253 yards this past Saturday. Heupel said that group is communicating better and he likes seeing all of the running lanes the big men are opening.
"You look at the other night, you look at [Adrian Killins] and Otis (Anderson) and Greg McCrae, the nights that those guys had ... that speaks to what those guys are doing up front and including the tight ends in that as well."
Conversely, the Knights' offensive line is shutting down any routes for defenders to get into the backfield. UCF's opponents have recorded just three tackles for loss and zero sacks thus far. By comparison, the Knights have 19 and four, respectively. At the core of the O-line's work lies a very simple mission statement: No one puts their hands on Milton
"That's something we take pride in: No one touches 10," said offensive lineman Tyler Hudanick. "We're going to continue to have pride in that and hopefully carry that on, week to week."
Watching the Pros
Sunday is film-study day for the Knights. It's a day when the players review the game tape, commonly with their coaches, and see what they need to correct. But during the NFL season, Davis makes sure he gets his film work in early. That way, the rest of the day is freed up for him to check out some of his former teammates in the NFL. On Sunday morning, Davis got together with a few other Knights to handle their post-South Carolina State business. Then they settled in with some hamburgers and hot dogs and rooted on their friends during Week 1 of the NFL season.
"I definitely saw Mike Hughes' pick-six; it was great," Davis said. "Shaquem had a few tackles. His drop-in and all his coverages, he did great. It was good to see him on TV. ... It doesn't look any different from college. Just different uniforms."
Heupel said defensive back Aaron Robinson, who was injured on the opening kickoff of the season at UConn, remains in the concussion protocol and it's uncertain when Robinson will play next. However, Heupel did say that Robinson "is making strides. He's doing better."