After enduring Hurricane Ian and re-scheduling the game hosting SMU to Wednesday, it would be reasonable to expect the UCF Knights to come out flat and get trampled by the Mustangs in their first American Athletic Conference game — but that’s not what happened here. Instead, quarterback John Rhys Plumlee led the team to an explosion of points to blast off into 2022’s Space Game against the Temple Owls.
Set to kick off in FBC Mortgage Stadium at 7:00 pm EDT for the 100th game in the “Bounce House”, this marks a different narrative than we’ve seen for the Knights all season. After charging past SMU in what coaches said might be their biggest challenge on the schedule, head coach Gus Malzahn turned the team’s focus to continuous improvement to avoid a letdown.
Malzahn has highlighted the Owls' defense as their main threat and they will try and do their part to slow Plumlee and the offense down. That being said, give the Knights’ starting quarterback credit for sticking to coach’s overall mantra of big plays leading to touchdowns. He gave the most credit to his receivers for having their best game of the season as a unit. Big plays by them set the table to turn an anemic offensive effort into a dynamic display.
With all the stories and hype out there surrounding the second-half scoring last Wednesday, they needn’t look far for an example to inspire sustained success. UCF’s defense continues to do amazing things in 2022 and are definitely licking their chops for the coming contest after preventing their previous opponent from completing a touchdown pass in the ballgame.
Defensive End Anthony Montalvo may have been a bit cliche while sounding like his defensive coordinator Travis Williams during Monday’s press conference, but he can’t be accused of being wrong. “Don’t let the highs get too high” is a fine slogan.
The Knights defense should take pride that they shut down Tanner Mordecai as arguably the best passer in the conference. But they must not remove their foot from the gas pedal. Nothing is inevitable, but it’s fair for fans to expect a ‘W’ here.