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#16 UCF Knights 56 vs. FAU Owls 36: Milton Bakes, But The Defense Shakes

McKenzie Milton's 6 TD's lead UCF to a dominating win over FAU

Marlon WIlliams scores against FAU (Photo: Derek Warden)
Marlon WIlliams scores against FAU (Photo: Derek Warden)

The Game

UCF Knights took down Lane Kiffin and his FAU Owls 56-36 before a sold out and rocking Bounce House crowd of 44,257. The Knights started off fast with 14-0 1st Quarter lead and had the Owls reeling, but Lane Kiffin successfully executed a fake punt that turned the tide and helped them scored 17 straight.

McKenzie Milton then proceeded to march UCF down the field in less than a minute before that half ended to retake the lead 21-17 with a clutch TD pass to Marlon Williams. It was Williams' first TD reception of the year.

The Knights then started off the 2nd half with the ball and scored on two straight possessions with TD runs by Milton to go ahead by a 35-17 lead. The Owls and Knights traded 2 scores a piece until Shawn Burgess-Becker put the game away with a Pick 6 to seal the deal.

FAU scored a final TD in garbage time against the reserves to make the final tally of 56-36. It was just a point off from my prediction of a 21 point win.

The Good

McKenzie Milton: Milton was electric. The bye week obviously helped him as much as anyone to get back on track. He was definitely in true #HIsman for as he ran passed for 3 TDs and had a career-high 3 TDs on the ground.

The Fans: The fans and the atmosphere at Spectrum stadium was amazing in the UCF's first sellout this year. It was impressive to the point that Head Coach Josh Heupel even commented on how it was better than he ever imagined it could be.

I can only assume that there was a capacity of 12,000 students there and they were there packing their section an hour before kickoff. As impressive as this team is, our growing and supportive fan base is even more so.

Richie Grant: Richie Grant has blossomed needs to be complimented on how he has progressed from a backup corner last year to one of UCF biggest defensive leaders. Grant led UCF with 12 tackles (8 solo) with a broken-up pass on a vicious hit that gives me hope of what this defense can be.

Grant had two interceptions in the first two games and will surely be an All-Conference selection if he keeps up his stellar play for the Knights. Hopefully, he can be an example and an inspiration to his fellow defensive backs on how to tackle and separate a WR from the ball.

The Defensive Turnovers: For the third game in a row UCF's defense was able to force three turnovers, something that was imperative for the Knights given their inability to tackle the opponents for the most part.

This time it was the LBs who picked up the 3 INTs, taking a cue from the safties who picked off three the previous week. Keeping up the ability to take away the ball is crucial to UCF's future success.

Micheal Colubiale: "Coubs" returned for a 6th year of eligibility and will be one of the unsung stories of 2018. Heupel loves his TEs and it was only a matter of time before he got them into the game plan.

He was sensational in bringing a previously unused element to UCF's attack, hauling in a team-high 6 rec/81 yards. It was a career high for Colubiale and definitely vindication for returning for another year. His speed and hands will be a big asset for the rest of the year.

Savage Pat: Let's make something clear: I LOVE Savage Pat! If UCF is to make it to the pinnacle of their ambitions, Pat Jasinski will be as big a reason as McKenzie Milton for it happening. While there should never be a comparison to Shaquem Griffin, Jasinski leads in his own perfect way - by example.

He is a throwback to not so long ago when tackling and technique was a valued part of the game. He can't be everywhere, but wherever he goes, he is a shining example of how to play the game. With another strong game, Savage Pat had the 1st INT of the day and added 8 tackles (1 solo).

The Offensive Line: Also, props to our offensive for paving the way on the ground game and for the second week in a row having no sacks allowed. There were, however, 7 TFLs by the opposition despite not getting to the QB.

The Penalties: UCF players thankfully got the message about discipline in the bye week. With the exception of two silly 15-yarders by Joey Connors and Eric Mitchell, the Knights were largely in check with only 4 penalties totaling 49 yards. Hopefully, this will be the norm going forward.

Mac Loudermilk: I am both happy and sad to say that Mac Loudermilk was the shining light of special teams this week. After a few rough games to start the season Mac rebounded with a 49.0 yard avg on 3 punts. He doesn't get called much, but he still is an important part of winning the field position battle. We need him to be on whenever called.

The Bad

The Special Teams: Punting aside, the special teams play all-around was bad. We gave up a 24-yard average on kickoff returns and only had a 17-yard average ourselves. If we aren't going to have a competent kickoff return, I would rather we just fair catch and have our offense just take the ball on the 25-yard line every time instead of risking getting Killins hurt.

That and the fact that a successful FAU fake punt turned the game on a dime had the Owls leading just before the half. Throw in that FAU had terrible special teams coming in but managed to kick two 50-yard pooch punts by their QB, and it was a pretty bad day overall.

The Pass Rush: No one seems to be talking about it, but other than some success against an FCS team, we have had ZERO sacks. Some improvement this week against Pitt would be a welcome sight, especially when Randy Shannon whole philosophy is that of an "attacking" defense. I would settle for penetrating for now.

The Run Defense: We gave up 320 yards and 6.4-yd avg. We also gave up the first 100-yard game to a back who had not gotten 100 in three previous games. Bad tackling, not keeping contain on QBs in the pocket, and poor edge support may have run-heavy Pitt licking their chops at our game film.

The Ugly

The Tackling: Seeing a pattern here? Correct, the tackling is not good. This is no longer a single-game problem or an early-season problem. UCF has played the easiest quarter of its schedule and has not been able to tackle to save their lives. It was a problem last year too. If it continues, they will lose. Simple as that.

Brandon Moore had the toughest time out there. Moore missed several tackles, including two that gave up FAU TDs. He also dropped two sure interceptions that eventually led to two more TDs. But he was far from alone.

I challenge Moore, and backups Keenan Johnson, Dyllon Lester, Trey Green, and Aaron Robinson when he is healthy, to work hard to make your UNIT better, so that whoever is on that field is bringing the best that UCF can produce. Your team needs you! We are only as strong as our weakest link.

If I could clone Pat Jasinski 10 more times and play every position I would. I am not privy to what goes on in practice, but I can't imagine any defensive coach worth his salt wants to have a legacy of not be able to teach his players something as basic as tackling. We will just have to have faith that they can see what we can and know all too well how urgently it needs to be fixed.

Inside The Numbers

  • Milton was #HIsman worthy: 21-32/306 yards/3 TD passing, 13/81 yards/3 TD rushing
  • UCF: 545 yards Total Offense (306 pass/239 run), FAU 447 (320 run/127 pass)
  • Time of possession (UCF 28:53/FAU 31:07)
  • UCF had 32 first downs, FAU had 25
  • UCF’s RB's had only 158 yards/37 rush/1 TD for a 4.2 avg
  • TE Michael Colubiale had his best game as a Knight (9 rec/111 yards/1 TD)
  • Gabriel Davis led the WR's with 5 rec/91 yards/1 TD
  • Adrian Killins Jr led the RB's with 16 rush/66 yards
  • UCF only had 4/49 yards in penalties
  • UCF’s Defense gave up 320 yards/50 rush/4 TDs for a huge 6.4 avg
  • UCF’s Defense allowed only 127 yards on 14-27 passing and recorded 3 INTs for the 2nd consecutive week
  • UCF offense converted 14 points off its 3 turnovers and were 6/6 TD's in the red zone
  • FAU was 4/4 TD's in UCF red zone and 3/3 on 4th down
  • UCF had a 3 TD drives lasting 3:05 min or longer plays, including a 12 play/5:54 min drive to close out the win
  • UCF Offense had 7/8 TD drives of over 75 yards or 10 plays or more
  • UCF Defense had 7 TFL/3 INTs/7 QBH’s/4 sacks
  • Avg Field Position: UCF (own 33), FAU (own 32)
  • 3rd Down Conversion: UCF (7/11), FAU (6/15)
  • FAU was 3/3 on 4th downs with a 12.3 avg, UCF was -/1
  • UCF Defense forced 4 three-and-out possessions in 13 drives
  • UCF Offense had their first 2 three-and-outs for the season
  • UCF Offensive Line gave up its 1st sack of the season
  • UCF ran 24/39 times on 1st down for a 4.0 yard avg
  • FAU ran 23/36 times on 1st down for a 6.4 yard avg
  • UCF extends its winning streak to 16, longest in the nation, and a new AAC record
  • UCF also has a nation-leading 16-game streak of scoring 30+ points

Final Thoughts

The Knights beat FAU by 20, so that's good. We should all be happy, I know. But things changed forever when Blake Bortles and Company took down Baylor and brought UCF into a new stratosphere of expectations.

McKenzie Miltons don't grow on trees. There isn't another version of him right around the corner. This may indeed be our last year to be graced with his unique and special talents.

It is not merely sufficient to be a good team every other year anymore. We need to see ourselves on a different level now, one that will comes heightened expectations. We have to be perfect now. One slip, one too many missed tackles, one loss, and the season will be always lacking.

We have an opportunity now to do things some of us have been waiting near 40 years now. Let's keep our eye on the ball, stay focused, be perfect for just one play at a time. Do that and the season will be everything we want it to be.

Up Next: Pittsburgh Panthers

The Pitt Panthers come to the Spectrum this Saturday for a 3:30 kickoff.