Ohio Preview

Head Coach Mike Kruczek

Last Saturday Coach Mike Kruczek kept his head above water as his team produced waves in which he has never seen before. For the first time under Kruczek, UCF rushed for over 200 yards in a half and passed for less than 100 yards in a game. Much of the same should be expected this week as the Knights travel to Ohio with a quarterback controversy stirring and a homecoming crowd waiting.

UCF did manage to extend Buffalo's winless streak to 16 games as they climbed on the shoulders of Alex Haynes, Luther Huggins and Tavaris Capers in the 19-10 win.  Haynes set career highs with his 30 carries and 165 yards with 105 of that coming in the first 30 minutes.  Haynes is now on a pace to finish the year with his second consecutive 1,000-yard season. 

Capers' 52-yard punt return in the third quarter and Huggins' 68-yard kickoff return proved to be the difference in the game.  It also solidified Joe Robinson's special teams squad as the "Wild Knights."

Kruczek admires the job Capers has done for his ball club.  "He's an exciting little guy now. He's been very consistent for the most part fielding the football. We've just got to continue to try and get him the ball on the offensive side," Kruczek said.

In practices before last week's game, Kruczek admits putting the pressure on Huggins for some output.  "We challenged him. You know I wasn't real happy about his performance the week before. I made a comment about sticking someone else in there but I gave him a chance and he responded very favorably." Kruczek said.  

"It's great to be 2-3. Regardless of how pretty it is, how blood and guts it is, it makes no difference to me," Kruczek said.

UCF used the same line of attack to get their first MAC win as they did last season vs. Ohio.  This performance marked the first time since last November to see the Knights return a punt for a touchdown.  Alphonzo Hopkins returned a blocked punt two yards for the score last season.  The Bobcats will also greet back the only rusher in the past 25 games to put up 150 yards against them. Haynes notched 151 yards with one touchdown in that affair.  

"To go out and try and do what we did against Buffalo against them is going to be very, very difficult. We're going to have to rely on other means, something periodically throughout the game," Kruczek said.  This is because Ohio held one of the nation's top backs in the nation, Michael Turner, to just 43 yards on 15 carries last week against Northern Illinois. "Their defense is definitely better than a 1-4 defense. They're crossing everybody's fades. They're slanting linebackers. They limit you in what you can do and they do a real good job with it."

Central Florida quarterback Jon Rivera (13) pitches out to tailback Alex Haynes (4) as he is hit by Buffalo linebacker Rodney Morris during the first half in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003. (AP Photo/Kevin Kolczynski)

 

This will prove to be a bigger challenge than once expected because Ryan Schneider is still questionable, according to Kruczek.  "Right now he's in a strength training mode, Kruczek said. "He's going through range of motion with rubber band treatments and real light weights." 

Even if Schneider's progress does not thrust him into the top slot, Kruczek has not counted out the possibility of having him on the sidelines for emergency purposes.  Only 60 players are allowed on the team plane but Kruczek believes it is invaluable to have him wearing pads attached to that number 17.  "People draw confidence off of him. He is our vocal leader," Kruczek said. 

Schneider also plays a role as a coach.  "He was seeing the things I was seeing," Kruczek said.  At one point in the game Schneider even told Kruczek to keep pounding the ball at Buffalo.

"Very few people believed we would actually run it the way we did," Kruczek explained.  On the other side, Ohio has a heightened motivation because of past experiences.  "They played Northern Illinois off their feet at home and now they're coming back home in front of their people. They're upset about the way they finished the season last year against us in the Citrus Bowl (42-32 UCF)." Kruczek said.  "Nonetheless, they're going to have to play for 60 minutes."

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