Memphis-UCF Preview
Rob Calabrese (Reinhold Matay/AP)
Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2009
Brendan Sonnone


Inside Knights previews UCF’s upcoming matchup with the Memphis Tigers.

UCF Knights vs. Memphis Tigers

Location: Orlando, Florida (Bright House Networks Stadium)

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Record: UCF 2-2 (0-2 in conference), Memphis 1-3 (0-1)

Team Overviews


UCF: Falling to 0-2 in the conference was not how UCF wanted to start it’s 2009 campaign and now the Knights must win out to have a chance of finishing atop their division. UCF’s offense looked to be on the rise, but turnovers and an inability to score in the red zone stopped the Knights from upsetting ECU on the road. Look for the Knights to make personnel adjustments on both sides of the ball in a must win game against Memphis.

Memphis: The Tigers have gotten off to a slow start this season. They hung with Ole Miss in the first half of their season opener but haven’t really been competitive against FBS opponents since. Their offense has had a difficult time getting points on the board and the defense hasn’t been much better. Memphis is also winless in conference play, so the team should be hungry for a win,

UCF Offense vs. Memphis Defense

UCF: Brett Hodges played about as well as you can while throwing four interceptions. He was sharp to start the game but he couldn’t stay in a groove for the rest of the second half. Now the Knights might rotate him and Rob Calabrese and stick with whoever has the hot hand. Brynn Harvey keeps progressing but the team apparently doesn’t have much depth behind him. Ronnie Weaver and Brendan Kelly have both had chances in games to get reps but neither has made a positive impact. A.J. Guyton comes off a strong week and will be utilized again against Memphis. The offensive line has been hot and cold through the year and some adjustments might be made there as well.

Memphis: The Tigers have allowed nearly 30 points per game this season and have had a difficult time stopping the run. Memphis has allowed 179 yards per game on the ground this season and four three of their four leading tacklers are secondary members, which isn’t a good sign. D.A. Griffin, the team’s leading tackler, is a solid corner with good size and speed and he’s one of the standout players for Memphis. Greg Jackson is a stellar linebacker who has been a constant for the Tigers since he was a freshman. The senior is regarded as one of the conference’s best linebackers. Memphis has excellent size up front, as Dontari Poe (350 lbs.) has 15 tackles as a true freshman. The problem is that the front four has allowed linebackers to be reached too often.

Key Matchup: Offensive line vs. defensive line- The winner up front will win the game. Poe and some other Tigers have great size but they haven’t dominated games yet. Memphis has also gotten to opposing quarterbacks this season, so the Knights won’t be able to waltz through this matchup. Still, UCF should be able to have some success during zone blocking plays and if the Knights can move the ball consistently, they’ll be fine. If Memphis clogs the middle, which they haven’t done much this year, the Knights will then have to get creative.

UCF Defense vs. Memphis Offense

UCF: Tackling, tackling, tackling. That was the difference between going 1-1 in the conference and 0-2 for the Knights. They couldn’t get ECU off the field because they missed way too many tackles and if the team continues that trend, they could be looking at 0-3 in conference play. The secondary hasn’t really improved much through the course of the season and freshman Josh Robinson was picked on last week. Whether there will be any changes remains to be seen.

Memphis: Aside from a game against Tennessee-Martin, an FCS school, the Tigers haven’t scored over 16 points all season. Using a no-huddle, spread offense, the Tigers have expected an offensive rejuvenation but they haven’t been able to make things click. Memphis has used a by-committee approach running the ball, with quarterback Tyler Bass having rushed for 161 yards on the year. Two other tailbacks, Curtis Steele and T.J. Pitts, have also surpassed 100 yards rushing on the season. Arkelon Hall, who was supposed to be a perfect fit to run this offense, has been benched for Bass. The true sophomore will have plenty of weapons, with Duke Calhoun and Carlos Singleton spearheading a talented group of receivers.

Key Matchups: Wide receivers vs. defensive backs- Memphis will take a lot of shots down field as Calhoun (6’4”) and Singleton (6’8”) are big targets. UCF’s secondary has been susceptible to plenty of big plays and they’ll be challenged on Saturday.



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