Major Difference in Styles on Sunday
Coach O'Leary (UCF Athletics)
Coach O'Leary (UCF Athletics)
Posted Oct 23, 2008
Charlie Bernstein

Although the Knights game against Tulsa will be played on Sunday, it likely won’t resemble that of an NFL game. UCF will have to play a Tulsa offense that is ranked number one in the nation and is capable of putting up numbers that you would see in a video game.

"They are a fast-break offense,” said Knights head coach George O’Leary. They make you defend the field horizontally and vertically."

Tulsa is looking for some revenge as the Knights defeated them not once, but twice last season including a victory in the Conference USA championship game held in Bright House Networks Stadium.

"I am sure they know we are coming to town, I think it has turned into that type of deal,” O’Leary said.

The tables seem to be somewhat tilted in the 10 or so months following last year’s C-USA championship game. Tulsa, despite graduation record-setting quarterback Paul Smith has kept it’s offensive machine rolling en route to a 7-0 record and a number 19 ranking.

"I am happy they are ranked,” O’Leary said. “I don't know how you can take the team with the number one offense and 7-0, and not get them up in the polls. I think some times people are up there because of just who they are and not what they are."

As for the Knights, they sit at 2-4 with a few heartbreaking losses to some big time opponents in USF and Miami, and they’ve also had some forgettable losses at BC and UTEP. The UCF offense is the antithesis of Tulsa’s as the Knights have an inexperienced quarterback and are in the bottom five in the nation in most offensive categories.

“I told the offensive staff just stay the course,” O’Leary said. “I haven't changed one iota what I have always done, but I do think there are areas that we can exploit against Tulsa and it's a matter of execution.”

The Knights may have some good news regarding their offense, as junior quarterback Michael Greco, who has been slowed with a knee injury appears to be set for a return. O’Leary updated his condition.

"Greco is back full speed this week. He's back in the hunt this week with the quarterback job and that will be a game time decision."

When facing an offense that’s as explosive as Tulsa’s, UCF must run the football with success and use the clock to their advantage. They basically have to ugly up the game.

"Possession time is critical when you play a team like this," O’Leary said. "They try to get up on you real quick. People start to panic, and start throwing the ball all over the place instead of continuing their run/pass ratio and that is what leads to problems."

UCF has faced an explosive, “run and gun” offense like this before against SMU, but Tulsa offers a lot more balance.

“They are a balanced offense surprisingly, they run the ball just as good as they throw it," said Knights linebacker Alex Thompson.

Thompson knows what his Knights defense could be in for.

"You can never have enough time to prepare for a team like Tulsa, being the number one offense in the nation,” Thompson said. “As a defensive player, you can't watch enough film to get ready for them."

The Knights enter the game as 23-point underdogs, and they will need another big effort from their defense to keep the team close.

Related Stories
UCF at Tulsa Game Preview
 -by  Oct 24, 2008
Knights Mid-Season Report
 -by  Oct 16, 2008
Offense Dragging the Team Down
 -by  Oct 14, 2008

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