The mood going into the Monday press conference with UCF Knights head coach Gus Malzahn was completely different after returning from Boca Raton. Coming off of a blowout win against the Florida Atlantic Owls, there was a lot for the Knights staff and players to smile about as they looked to prepare for hosting the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in FBC Mortgage Stadium this Saturday at 4 pm EDT.
Malzahn not only praised the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week John Rhys Plumlee but the offense as a whole for improving their play during a dominant road win. While UCF’s quarterback got a lot of the spotlight for his dynamic performance running and passing the football, offensive guard Lokahi Pauole took it as a badge of honor for himself and the entire offensive line.
With concerns surrounding protection coming out of training camp, Pauole talked about how good it was to come out of a performance taking charge in the trenches and s how much the lineman have grown as a unit.
“Everybody [on the line] knows how to play football, there’s really no lack on that, it’s really being five and playing as one,“ said Pauole. “Being an O-line, that’s what we have to do...[We’re finding] that gel, we’re getting closer and closer.”
That concept of continued growth was maintained by Divaad Wilson later during the press conference. When asked by media members about what he saw on film from quarterback Jeff Sims and the Yellow Jackets, Wilson said “Nothing that really comes to mind”, and that the defense was “more so focused on [themselves]”.
That’s not to say that Malzahn didn’t give the defense a glowing review on their most recent performance either. After giving up two early touchdowns, UCF finished the game with 33 unanswered points. This was a result that coach Malzahn said was “as good as it gets”.
“That second half was good as it gets” says @CoachGusMalzahn on how his defense responded to leave #FAU scoreless in the 2nd half on Saturday in the #UCF win. #GKCO #ChargeOn pic.twitter.com/OlcMlZISNj— Black & Gold Banneret (@UCFBanneret_SBN) September 19, 2022
The main message to the team from the coaches was the concept of continued evolution as the season moves forward.
“This is the time of year that the good teams start getting better,“ said Malzahn. “We need to be that team that continues to get better as the season goes and we did that last year. I feel pretty confident that we have the pieces of the puzzle to do that.”
With that in mind, during this coming weekend, the team is determined to get the fans a win coming back to town to make up for their failure to deliver an ACC victory against Louisville last time they were at home.