Bernstein Blog - UCF vs UTEP

Coach O'Leary (InsideKnights.com)

It has been nearly 36 hours since the Knights kicked off at UTEP and were embarrassed 58-13. I'm going to examine this game and look at the positives (there were a few) and negatives.

The good:

It only counts as one loss. The Knights were thoroughly outplayed by a team who had lost nine straight games coming in, but it only counts as one conference loss, the same as if it were a one-point game.

Play calling. On various internet message boards (anger boards), the UCF coaching staff is getting lambasted. In reality, offensive coordinator Tim Salem called a pretty good game. When the team loses by 45 points, it's not the coaches, it's the players.

Rushing YPC. The Knights averaged 4.5 yards per carry and that is solid.

Quarterback Rob Calabrese. Playing in just his second NCAA game, the true freshman quarterback gave Knights fans plenty of reason for optimism despite his final stats that showed 13/31 passing for 167 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INT's. Calabrese made a few really nice throws and showed that he can read a defense. Calabrese has the potential to turn into the best UCF passer since Daunte Culpepper. On the ground, the true freshman found holes and led the team with 86 yards rushing on 11 carries.

The return of Kamar Aiken. Aiken led the team with five catches for 58 yards including a touchdown reception.

Joe Burnett. The UCF MVP averaged 23.5 yards per kickoff return and was the only reliable player in the secondary as he grabbed an interception.


The bad:

Nearly everything that wasn't mentioned above, specifically ball protection. The Knights lost four fumbles, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Secondary breakdown.
Every player in the Knights secondary with the exception of Joe Burnett was beaten repeatedly for big plays, from what isn't a big play offense.

Six turnovers. You're not going to win many games turning the ball over six times.

Tackling.
The Knights defense missed several tackles.

Kicking game. Freshman kicker Nick Cattoi missed an extra point. In the grand scheme of the game, the point after didn't matter in a blowout, but you'd really like to see special teams convert on easy opportunities.


The Ugly:

Knee injury to senior left tackle Patrick Brown. Brown went down with what appeared to be a serious knee injury and his condition will be updated later in the week. Brown is the heart and soul of the Knights offense and the last thing the team needed in a blowout loss was an injury to their left tackle.


Recap:

This game was an absolute comedy of errors for the Knights. They made tons of mistakes, received some really bad bounces of the football, and the game got away pretty early on. It's certainly not the way anyone on the UCF coaching staff wanted to begin conference play, but it's only one loss. The Knights can rally the troops and still achieve their goal of winning their second consecutive C-USA championship, however bleak things look at this point.

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