The UCF Knights close out their non-conference schedule 3-1 after a messy and concerning 27-10 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. It’s time for some knee-jerk reactions.
Consistency is key and UCF’s offense doesn’t have it
When I said that UCF was going to be a run-first team, I did not mean they would be a run exclusive one. John Rhys Plumlee was ineffective as a passer early on, going 5/11 for 41 yards with an interception while being sacked twice in the first half.
The Knights had to rely on the running game, which became more and more ineffective as the Yellow Jackets committed more and more against the run. UCF had 119 yards rushing as a team, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry, which was less than Georgia Tech’s 3.8ypc.
As a result, Georgia Tech outgained UCF in the first half 211 to 160. Georgia Tech averaged 7.8 yards per play more than doubled up UCF’s 3.7.
The second half didn’t fare much better.
The offense had a whopping 8 yards passing in the second half and the Yellow Jackets outgained the Knights in the second half as a whole 231 to 173 to make it 442-333 in favor of Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech led in passing 314-49 and UCF led in rushing 284-128. You would have thought former Georgia Tech coach and triple option aficionado Paul Johnson was coaching UCF with these one-sided stats.
UCF’s offense has a Jekyll and Hyde look to them. Against South Carolina State and Florida Atlantic, the passing game was strong with over 300 yards in each. Against Louisville and Georgia Tech, the passing game was anemic at best and forced UCF to rely heavily on the run. The offensive line has been very inconsistent this year, but against Georgia Tech, they by and large had a decent game. John Rhys Plumlee was sacked a couple of times and while the running game looked stagnant at times, it was because the passing game became so non-existent, the defense was keying in on the run.
The offense is going to have to do better if they want to contend for a conference championship.
The defense gave up too many chunk plays
The defense made some big plays. They had four sacks and nine tackles for loss. They had a pair of fumble recoveries, including one by Tre’Mon Morris-Brash that ended a redzone opportunity for Georgia Tech and was nearly a touchdown before an uncovered Nate McCollum knocked the ball loose and through the end zone for a touchback. Morris-Brash also recovered the other fumble in the redzone to end another drive. The Yellow Jackets went 0/5 with a couple of turnovers in the redzone. The Knights defense was also stout on third down, holding the Yellow Jackets to 4/13 and 0/3 on fourth down.
Where the defense went wrong was it was very susceptible to the big play as Georgia Tech had 23 plays of 10 or more yards. Georgia Tech’s lone touchdown was a 59-yard pass from Jeff Sims to Malachi Carter. Quadric Bullard was left alone in one-on-one coverage and Carter ran a deep post perfectly and was able to create separation on the cut. That one play had more passing yards than UCF had the entire game.
It was a weird game. Georgia Tech gashed the defense regularly when outside of the redzone and fell apart once they crossed the 20.
The special teams carried the team
We are living in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
After being much maligned over the first three weeks, UCF’s special teams had the best game by any team unit. All of UCF’s first 16 points were scored by the special teams. New starting kicker Colton Boomer hit field goals from 21, 31, 37, and 43 yards after drives fell short of the end zone. Jarvis Ware blocked a Yellow Jackets punt and Quadric Bullard recovered the ball and ran it back for a 29-yard touchdown. New punter Mitch McCarthy did have a bad punt and a couple that took bad bounces, but he still averaged over 43 yards a punt. He’ll get better.
On the flip side, UCF’s special teams did give up some big returns, but Georgia Tech wasn’t able to capitalize.
So how did UCF win?
Here is a painful truth: UCF should not have won this game. They were outgained offensively. They gave up over 300 yards passing and threw for less than a hundred. As mentioned above, Georgia Tech averaged 7 yards per play versus 4.6 due to the high number of chunk yardage plays given up by the Knights defense. Where Georgia Tech was undone with UCF’s defense clamping down in the redzone and on third/fourth down.
UCF has a lot of work to do as the non-conference schedule ends and their quest for an American Athletic Conference championship begins.
UCF went with a gold shell with black tops and black pants. The gold with all black isn’t a bad look, but it isn’t very unique. Very Colorado-esque.
Where else can you get a @UCF_Football win and a postgame rocket launch? pic.twitter.com/l1yVs2WZkG— Noah Goldberg (@TheNoahGoldberg) September 24, 2022
UCF: John Rhys Plumlee: 8/16 for 49 yards, 0 TD, 1 Int
GT: Jeff Sims: 21/32 for 314 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int
UCF: John Rhys Plumlee: 16 carries for 100 yards, 1 TD
GT: Hassan Hall: 7 carries for 54 yards, 0 TD
UCF: Isaiah Bowser: 1 catch for 22 yards, 0 TD
GT: Malachi Carter: 3 catches for 89 yards, 1 TD
- Georgia Tech leads the series 3-2.
- Georgia Tech becomes the first Power 5 conference team that UCF has defeated more than once.
- Sorry it’s not my best, but I got confused and thought Paul Johnson took over coaching UCF.