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Knights Gameday: Previewing UCF-UConn

UCF is looking for their second convincing win in a row as they travel to Storrs.

Chequan Burkett fires up the crowd against Temple
Chequan Burkett fires up the crowd against Temple
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

UCF is looking for their second convincing win in a row as they travel to Storrs.

The Hard Facts

UCF (5-2) vs. UConn (1-6)

Game Time: 12:00

Weather: 47 degrees, 30 percent chance of rain

Line: UCF (-10.5)

TV: CBS Sports Network

Broadcast Team: Dave Ryan, Corey Chavous, Dana Jacobson

Radio: 740 the Game or the UCF IMG TuneIn Channel

Behind Enemy Lines

This week we enlisted the expertise of Aman Kidwai who covers the Huskies for our SB Nation sister site The UConn Blog

What has been the most noticeable difference in the program in head coach Bob Diaco's first year?

This is a tough one. Though it isn't something you see with the team on the field, it is most likely the significant re-vamping of the strength and nutrition programs. Multiple players dropped weight, added muscle, and have been in better shape for late in games.

If I were to answer your question from the perspective of what we've seen in games it would be just be the ups, downs, and sometimes horrors, of a team that is openly rebuilding. Whereas the mediocre-to-bad UConn teams of the Paul Pasqualoni years at least gave off the impression that they were trying to win in the here and now. Today we see multiple players rotating in and gaining experience, which will benefit us in the long-run but has led to some ugly play on the field.

It has been tough for the fanbase, especially during a very lean stretch from against USF, Temple and Tulane, but we have seen (gradual) progress and recruiting has picked up as well. The energy around the program has been tremendous and the enthusiasm of Diaco and his staff has been a big part of it.

What finally worked for QB Chandler Whitmer against ECU?

I don't want to take much away from Chandler Whitmer, who had his moments last week, but I think the play calling was the biggest difference. For the first time, the offensive game plan actually seemed geared towards hiding our glaring weakness on the offensive line by throwing short passes but also taking the occasional shot down field to keep the defense honest and -- gasp! -- maybe even make a big play. With passing plays of 88, 43, 37, and 32 yards, mission accomplished. Whitmer is still who he is, an average at best game manager with questionable decision-making skills who has the unfortunate luck of playing behind a bad offensive line.

Does the performance against ECU give UConn players or fans added confidence going forward?

I can't speak for the players, but I'm sure it was a great boost for their confidence to play the best team outside of the 'power 5', especially after so much negativity surrounding the program for their 1-6 start.

Many fans didn't go into this season thinking it would be a full-on rebuild this year, but it has been the case and so adjustments needed to be made to expectations. As a fan, of course it is encouraging to see a better-than-expected performance against ECU, but at the end of the day it was a loss, and there are some very real reasons that we were never even in the lead during that game. If we can have another solid outing against UCF, in front of our home crowd at UConn's Homecoming, that would at least demonstrate a pattern of game-over-game progression that we have really yet to see all season.

Key to a Knights Victory

Holman has to build off his strong showing against Temple with another good game on the road.  He must avoid creating multiple turnovers for UCF to move through the Huskies as expected.

Stat to Watch

Following the percent chance of rain becomes an unlikely number to watch.  It looks like temps in Connecticut will avoid the frigid levels they reached when the Knights struggled last year at SMU.  Still any inclement weather might hamper the UCF passing attack and force them to turn to a suspect run game.

Prediction

On a perfectly sunny day in Orlando last year, the Knights throttled UConn 62-17. The weather and Diaco's influence should keep this one closer.

UCF 28 UConn 7