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Preview: UCF at ECU
Dec 2, 2014
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UCF v ECU Football

Game Time: Thursday, December 4th 7:30 PM

TV Coverage: ESPN
The saying is that defense wins championships. UCF will need their defense to perform at its peak level this Thursday night, as they take on the offensively dangerous ECU Pirates at Dowdy-Ficklen stadium, where UCF has struggled mightily in recent history. The former Conference USA members meet for the first time as members of the American Athletic Conference, and with a victory UCF can claim a share of the conference title along with Memphis, and possibly Cincinnati as well if they can defeat a pretty strong Houston team. Regardless of the result of this game, it appears UCF is headed to the St. Pete bowl to most likely take on Miami, which would be a very intriguing matchup and makes geographic sense. Nevertheless, UCF is focused on winning back to back conference championships and will have their hands full with ECU’s Carden and Hardy attack.

UCF handed their bitter rivals out west, USF, their first ever shutout loss at Raymond James Stadium last week. UCF’s offense did just enough, and defense played out of their mind to secure the 16-0 victory. USF had a couple of chances to score and put themselves right back in the game, however several costly penalties and an ineffective running game (UCF held USF to only 5 yards rushing total) resulted in embarrassing red zone trips for USF off of UCF turnovers. Quarterback Justin Holman connected on a touchdown to Breshad Perriman (It has become a must every game for this team), and Rannell Hall had to take some running back duties because of injuries to both William Stanback and Dontravious Wilson. Hall then promptly made an impressive touchdown run to give the Knights a two touchdown lead and the defense did their work from there, even creating a safety.

Meanwhile, ECU beat a hapless Tulsa team who now just fired their head coach, Bill Blankenship. ECU’s offense was once again impressive, as Carden threw for 4 touchdowns, and Hairston ran 6 times for 91 yards (An impressive 15.2 YPC). Hardy caught a touchdown, and his teammate Cam Worthy also had 98 receiving yards. ECU has now won back to back games over Tulsa and Tulane after suffering back to back losses to Temple and Cincinnati. The Temple loss was filled with mental errors and turnovers, and then ECU’s loss at Cincinnati was of the pure shootout variety. Prior to those two losses, ECU put together a strong nonconference resume as they dismantled UNC 70-41 and beat Virginia Tech by a touchdown too. After those two losses, ECU not only lost their shot at a G5 bowl game, but also at a conference championship. This is another senior day rivalry game, where ECU has nothing to lose and will look to send UCF packing in front of a raucous home crowd.

There is no doubt that this game is going to be a ton of fun to watch. ECU is ranked 3rd overall in passing yards and 14th in points for, while UCF is ranked 5th in points against and boasts arguably the best secondary in the American. UCF does not only have to worry about one of the better (maybe the best) quarterbacks in the American in Shane Carden in addition to his NFL caliber receiver Justin Hardy, but also offensively UCF could be missing their first and second string running backs. Micah Reed did a decent job against USF, however he had a costly fumble while UCF was driving to put the nail in the coffin and promptly got pulled for RB #4, Cedric Thompson. If Stanback and Wilson can’t go again this week, UCF will have to have a successful rushing game with their 3rd and 4th string running backs along with occasional runs by Rannell Hall. UCF also lost JJ Worton for the season to an ACL tear, taking away one of many UCF’s talented receivers.

This is the time of the year where injuries mount up, and they are definitely going to impact this game. Besides UCF’s injuries, ECU will be without 10 players listed on their roster. Players of note who will be missing for this game are safety Lamar Ivey-who is possibly ECU’s best pass defender, and receiver Trevon Brown who had 4 touchdowns on the season, and was also their kickoff and punt return man. This huge game will come down to which team can overcome their injuries, control tempo, and which athletes can make the big play as both teams have several of them. Perriman and Hardy are two of the best wide receivers not just in the conference, but in all of college football. Holman has steadily improved to be a solid AAC quarterback, but he cannot be put in a position to be playing catchup against Carden and company. Jacoby Glenn, an outstanding cornerback for UCF, will have to play at his best against Justin Hardy, which will be a great matchup to watch. However, since UCF plays with a cover and boundary corner scheme, Jordan Ozerities is that boundary man who is going to be tested and thrown at more. Also look for some nickel coverage with DJ Killings or Shaquill Griffin.

Between the key injuries, home field advantage, and prior struggles by UCF at Dowdy-Ficklen, I’m picking against my Knights in this one 35-31. This game could really go either way, and will be UCF’s first major test since hosting BYU. UCF has given away way too many turnovers and will have to play mistake free ball to win this one. They need to take advantage of ECU’s less than stellar defense. UCF does have the longest non-Saturday game winning streak on the line as well, yet ECU is a 5.5 favorite right now over the Knights. UCF wants to taste their second straight conference championship and possibly enjoy another 10 win season, but ECU will be a great challenge for UCF to accomplish their goal.

Key Players

UCF: QB Justin Holman (Has to play a clean game and not throw INTs), WR Josh Reese (Has to step up with Worton’s absence and will now handle punt return duties), WR Breshad Perriman (Needs another game of no drops like vs USF) LB Terrance Plummer (Needs to keep contain on Carden’s rushing ability), CB Jacoby Glenn and CB Jordan Ozerities (Have to defend the best set of WRs they have faced since nonconference play).

ECU: QB Shane Carden (Perfect for ECU’s spread offense and one of the best in conference), WR Justin Hardy (Probably a NFL WR talent), RB Breon Allen (Averaging 6.6 YPC, has accounted for 9 of ECU’s touchdowns), WR Isiah Jones, WR Cam Worthy, and LB Zeek Bigger (113 total tackles and two INTs)

Injuries

UCF: WR JJ Worton (Out for Year), RB William Stanback (Probable), RB Dontravious Wilson (Questionable), Colby Watson (Out for Year), OL Joey Grant (Probable)

ECU: DL Demage Bailey, WR DaQuan Barnes, TE Darren Dowdell, LB Devaris Brunson, DB Lamar Ivey, LB Kirk Donaldson, WR Trevon Brown, LB Desi Brown, DB Cody Purdie, and OL Christian Matau (All are out vs UCF)

About author

Profile photo of Daniel Glass

Daniel Glass

I currently work for my family business in New Jersey and attended UCF from 2007-2011. I graduated with a degree in general business and when not working I am watching college football or the NFL. I am not an experienced writer, but have always been curious to test the turbulent waters of writing about my favorite team. Follow me on twitter @Dgyn14.

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