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 seventh roundtable of the football season, Eric Lopez, Brian Murphy and Jeremy Brener take their seats at the roundtable to answer questions about tomorrow’s much-anticipated matchup against Temple.
1. With Greg McCrae out this weekend, who will need to step up the most for UCF?
Eric Lopez: Otis Anderson. I expect Otis to get most of workload alongside Bentavious Thompson in the running game. Thompson could be big factor on short yardage downs.
Brian Murphy: The Knights leaned on Otis Anderson and Bentavious Thompson after both McCrae and Adrian Killins were injured last week. But with Killins now expected to play Saturday, Thompson probably goes back to being a mop-up back.
Honestly, the UCF run game shouldn’t miss a beat without McCrae because it is such a deep position. Plus, as Dillon Gabriel runs more out of the read-option and keeps defenses from always crashing down at the handoff point, that will help give UCF’s a little extra space. And we know these guys need a very small lane to go the distance.
Jeremy Brener: Bentavious Thompson has the closest archetype to McCrae, and I assume he will get touches early and often tomorrow. Killins and Anderson will get their touches as well, but Thompson will need to step into a bigger role more than his backfield mates.
2. Does last weekend’s second half concern you for this weekend?
Eric Lopez: Not as much as as the struggles on the road this season.
Brian Murphy: Regarding UCF’s sluggish third quarters, in the parlance of new Phillies manager Joe Girardi, it’s not what you want. However, context is needed here. Obviously, we have seen bad third quarters ultimately cost the Knights in close games (Cincinnati!). But if they continue to perform as efficient and dominant as they have in the first 30 minutes, those second-half lulls are just sports talk fodder. I am not too concerned.
Jeremy Brener: I’d be lying if I said it did not. The team just conceded last week in the second half and the momentum could lead into this week. The team needs a big start and punch them in the throat immediately.
3. Which Temple player does UCF need to look out for the most?
Eric Lopez: DT- Ifeanyi Maijeh has 6 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss with 35 tackles and will be a handfull for UCF offense line to block.
Brian Murphy: It appears running back Re’Mahn Davis will be punishing American Athletic Conference defenses for years to come. The 5-foot-9, 210-pound true freshman is really difficult to bring down on first contact and has averaged 23 carries per over his past four games. He had rushed for 629 yards through seven games.
Jeremy Brener: The offensive line played poorly at Cincy and will be a unit that Temple will look to exploit. I’m going to agree with E-Lo and go with Ifeanyi Maijeh. If the Knights are able to contain Maijeh, I like their chances to win.
4. Which defensive player needs to step up for the Knights?
Eric Lopez: I will say the UCF pass rush. Temple has talented wide outs with 3 guys with 38 receptions or more. If Russo has time to throw, It could be a long night for the Knights defense similar to last year’s game when the game turn into a shootout.
Brian Murphy: Randy Charlton! Yep, I do believe Josh Heupel, who said Monday he believed Charlton would be available for this game. It would be the defensive end’s first action since the Pitt lost on Sept. 21. Heupel had given very uncertain answers when asked about Charlton’s status leading up to previous games that. So, I think the coach’s more confident stance this week is noteworthy. There is no doubt that the Knights could really use the sophomore’s pass-rushing ability, especially against a Temple O-line line that has been outstanding at QB protection.
Jeremy Brener: I’m going to say Randy Shannon. I might be cheating on this question but he needs to keep his defense sound, penalty-free and focused on the game. If you allow what happened last week in the second half, you might be able to beat ECU but that won’t fly against a more talented Temple squad on the road.
5. Score/attendance prediction.
Eric Lopez: UCF 44-27 35K
Brian Murphy: Attendance at Lincoln Financial Field has risen for each of Temple’s four home games, from a little more than 26,000 in Week 1 vs. Bucknell to better than 34,000 a couple of weeks ago against Memphis. So ... 35,877! Book it.
I do think UCF finally claims an out-of-state road victory for the first time in more than a year, but there’s no way I’d trust them giving 10.5.
Jeremy Brener: This is the first game since 2016 where I’m going into the game expecting to lose. I’m worried about Gabriel and his ability to perform in true road games. Maybe the jinx will work this week. 41-38 Temple, 35,878.