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Knights Gameday: Previewing BYU-UCF

Examining the keys to victory for the Knights and Cougars

Knights get excited on defense against Houston
Knights get excited on defense against Houston
Scott Halleran

The Hard Facts

UCF (2-2) vs. BYU (4-1)

Game Time: 7:30

Weather: 79 degrees, 0% chance of rain

Line: UCF -2.5


Broadcast team: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack, and Sam Ponder

Radio: 740 the Game or the UCF IMG TuneIn channel

Behind Enemy Lines

This week we enlisted the help of Kevin Kennedy, assistant managing editor from our SB Nation sister site for BYU coverage, Vanquish the Foe

How is the team and fan base dealing with the loss of Taysom Hill?

Kennedy: The team seems to be rallying behind one another, at least publicly, and are determined to make the season a success. The players are stepping in and putting their support behind Christian Stewart and are looking forward to showing what they can do as a team and especially as an offense. They believe that they are still a potent offense with Stewart behind them and are itching to prove it.

Fans on the other hand are a bit more split as the mourning continues with the loss of what many see as the entire BYU offense. Although there are fans that are taking the wait-and-see approach to how Stewart plays, a vocal number are wondering how many wins the Cougars have left in them this year.

What knowledge do BYU fans have about the UCF program?

Kennedy: Based off my interactions, most of the fans are familiar enough with UCF to know that they are a BCS-busting team, but couldn't name a player or the strongest position group on the team. They have a healthy respect for UCF, but it hasn't yet turned to fear. Many of the fans base their impressions off pure stats and so they look at the struggling offense and the Vegas odds and think that BYU should win, unless they cost themselves the game. However, they do still remember when the teams played last time and it wasn't a cakewalk at that time and so nobody expects it to be this year either.

What does BYU have to do well to win?

Kennedy: In order to pull off a win the Cougars will need to minimize the big plays on defense and establish a successful rushing attack on offense. Even with the UCF offensive struggles, the talented receivers can give the secondary fits if they aren't prepared. If they can keep the ball in front of them and force a couple of turnovers, they have a chance.

On offense nobody expects Stewart to fill in for Hill. Most hope that he will manage the game more than make the plays himself. He has an amazing running back in Jamaal Williams who was being overshadowed by Hill. If Williams is on his game, and can move the chains on the ground, he will open up a few passing windows that could be the difference in the final score.

Key to a Knights Victory

Watch the short passing game for UCF.  All week, head coach George O'Leary has stressed the importance of getting the ball to the Knights' athletes in space.

That is going to require a more efficient outing from Justin Holman and an effort from the coaches to put him in a position to succeed.  O'Leary intimated that backup Nick Patti could see time if this does not happen. He also brought true freshman Tyler Harris up from the show team.

Stat To Watch

The punting average for UCF is perhaps an off-the-radar stat, but a key one to watch in this game.  O'Leary was disappointed with punter Caleb Houston against Houston.

If the Knights bolster this critical area, it should keep the defense rolling.  Consistently backing up the Cougars offense could also frustrate new starting quarterback Christian Stewart.


BYU is making the cross-country trip to Orlando, on a short week, and without their Heisman contending QB Taysom Hill.  That spells a big win for UCF.

UCF 28 BYU 10