UCF: What We Learned Against SC State

Michael Greco (Reinhold Matay/AP)

InsideKnights.com editor Charlie Bernstein goes back to the game preview and compares the keys to the game with what actually happened.

Five most important things for UCF:

1. Remember Appalachian State! With the Knights revenge matchup against USF looming next Saturday, it didn't appear as if they took the S.C. State Bulldogs too lightly. UCF was able to move the ball fairly well on offense, although they had trouble finishing drives.

2. Be safe with the football. The Knights respected the football for the most part. Quarterback Michael Greco, starting his first collegiate game didn't throw the football into traffic and only accounted for one turnover, as he fumbled the ball as the Knights were driving for a score at the S.C. State three-yard line.

3. Lean on the running game. To say the Knights leaned on the running game is somewhat of a understatement. UCF ran the ball 59 times for 228 yards and thus dominated time of possession by a nearly 2:1 margin.

4. Get started early. Although the Knights moved the ball well, that didn't necessarily translate to points, as they found themselves scoreless after one period, and up only 7-0 by the time the fourth period began. Despite UCF dominating the game statistically, S.C. State was only one big play away from tying it for much of the evening.

5. Be solid in special teams. UCF was more than solid in many areas of special teams, as punt returner Joe Burnett was elusive, averaging 20.8 yards per return on four opportunities, and the Knights coverage teams were very good, allowing under 15 yards per kickoff return. Kicker Daren Daly struggled a bit, missing a 37-yard field goal attempt and was short on his kickoffs.

What we looked look for:

1. Look for the Knights to force at least three turnovers. We were close on this one. UCF forced two turnovers on a Jason Venson interception and a Travis Timmons fumble recovery in the first half. The S.C. State Bulldogs offense made it a point to be more careful with the football after intermission.

2. A big fourth quarter on the ground for the Knights. The UCF offense focused primarily on the ground game, and by the time the fourth period came around, the Knights offensive line was dominant over the smaller Bulldogs defensive line. All in all, UCF scored 10 points in the final period, holding the ball for nearly 10 minutes and rushing 15 times for 63 yards.

3. An efficient performance by Michael Greco. After a somewhat shaky start, Greco seemed more comfortable as the game progressed and ended up completing 9 of 16 passes for 90 yards, with no touchdowns and more importantly no interceptions. Greco added 72 yards on the ground, and did a fine job of not losing the game. Greco finished with a 103.5 passer rating.

4. A close game in the first half. Although the Knights dominated statistically, the halftime score was just 7-0.

5. A big play by the special teams. Joe Burnett supplied several big punt returns as he averaged nearly 21 yards per return, and kept the Knights offense in good field position for much of the game.

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