Each week during the football season, a few staff contributors will answer five questions regarding the upcoming game ahead. 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.
In our ninth roundtable of the football season, Jeff Sharon, Eric Lopez and Brian Murphy take their seats at the roundtable to answer questions about tonight’s much-anticipated matchup against Tulsa.
1. The Knights have been dominant in the third quarter recently. Will that continue? Why or why not?
Jeff Sharon: Man, I hope so. Tulsa’s lack of discipline and inability to stop the run (112th in FBS in rushing defense) should provide opportunities for UCF to show their explosiveness again.
Eric Lopez: It will continue as UCF has a better idea on who they are plus we saw this most of 2018 so it should not be a surprised that they played well in 3rd quarter recently.
Brian Murphy: Obviously, there’s no way to answer this question properly, but Tulsa’s quarter-by-quarter results are pretty interesting. In the first quarter and fourth quarters combined this season, Tulsa has a scoring differential of -96. The Golden Hurricane have scored only 37 points in the third quarter through nine games this season. But their defense has given up only 37 points in those third quarters.
None of this is really indicative of anything, but I think those odd splits are something to keep in mind during Friday’s game.
2. Describe how this game is a “trap game” for UCF.
Jeff Sharon: Let’s see: UCF is 0-4 all-time at Tulsa. UCF has a bye week coming up. Tulsa has lost to SMU in triple OT, Memphis by one point, and Tulane by one possession. It will be cold and likely windy. Far be it from me to panic or anything.
Eric Lopez: Tulsa’s record is 2-7 and yet they are 2 kicks away from knocking off Memphis and SMU. Plus its a short week traveling on road where there not much of an environment.
Brian Murphy: UCF’s coaches have tried to remind their players all week long that Tulsa’s 2-7 record isn’t a true description of their talent. Still, a game against a 2-7 team on the eve of a long bye is a pretty good recipe to have some players losing focus on the task at hand.
3. Name one Tulsa player the Knights need to look out for in the game.
Jeff Sharon: Trevis Gipson. He’s got 5 sacks this season, and nobody else has more than one for the Golden Hurricane.
Eric Lopez: Keylon Stokes who averaging 16 yards per catch and has scored 5 TDs. He will be player UCF secondary will have hands full.
Brian Murphy: The easy, obvious answer is junior wide receiver Keylon Stokes. He has 773 receiving yards, 17th-most in the FBS, and is averaging 16.5 yards per catch. But Stokes is also a dynamic kickoff returner, so he’s actually racking up about 125 all-purpose yards per week. He was added last week to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football’s best receiver.
And considering the Knights allowed more than 200 rushing yards in the first half last week versus Houston, it bears watching what Tulsa’s lead RB, Shamari Brooks, will do. He has accumulated 753 yards and five touchdowns on 178 carries.
4. Who is due to have a breakout game for the Knights?
Jeff Sharon: Gabe Davis has had only six catches the last two games. I’m looking forward to him unleashing the Kraken against Tulsa’s 109th-ranked scoring defense.
Eric Lopez: Gabe Davis been quiet by his standards recently. Would not be surprised he explodes like he did vs Stanford etc vs weak Tulsa secondary.
Brian Murphy: Coming off a game in which the Knights’ defense saw 11 players contribute in their season-high 17 tackles for loss, it’s tough to say anyone on that side of the ball should have a “breakout” performance. But I’ll go back to a player I mentioned when this question was asked a couple of weeks ago: Safety Richie Grant is long overdue for a game-changing play.
5. Score prediction?
Jeff Sharon: This one might be tight in the first half again (cue UCF Twitter Freakout) but the Knights pull away again. 42-22 UCF.
Eric Lopez: UCF 48-27
Brian Murphy: Knights win, 48-23.