The Knights had not won since the improbable Hail Mary hauled in by Breshad Perriman against ECU on December 4, 2014. After a long drought, the Knights have finally notched a win. Sure, it was "only" a win over FCS South Carolina State, but the Bulldogs have a fine defense and were a team with a pulse.
So I'm still not sure which Justin Holman we have. I asked - as have most Knights fans, I'm sure - whether we would have "2014 Holman" or "2015 Holman" this year. It turns out we had a half of each. Holman started poorly - jittery, inaccurate, and too amped up. But by the second half, he had largely settled down. He threw some lasers and ended up 14/28 for 193 yards, with two passing touchdowns and one on the ground. Take out a terrible first half (and account for the fact that Nick Patti came in for most of the fourth quarter), and those statistics look better. And it has to be said that even for a guy no one will mistake for a prototypical mobile quarterback, Holman can make some plays with his legs (as he did on the touchdown run).
Still, the Knights still have a question mark here. Let us hope these early jitters won't be repeated.
The Griffins were great. Twins Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin stood out on what was mostly a very good night for the UCF defense. Shaquill Griffin had a ridiculous interception in the third quarter where he tipped the ball into the air before coming down with it.
Shaquem's move from safety to outside linebacker has been a huge success. He delivered some absolutely huge hits. He looks like a great fit in the Knights' 3-4 defense.
They were a big part of the reason the Knights ended up with a shutout (just like the last time the Knights played South Carolina State, winning 18-0 in 2008).
Special Teams allowed the Knights room to breathe. In the first half, the Knights moved the ball but bogged down often on the South Carolina side of the field. Matthew Wright hit field goals from 46, 34, 45, and 37 yards to put the Knights up 12-0. The Knights would go into the half up only 18-0 following a ten yard run by Justin Holman near the end of the half. Had it not been for Wright's reliable kicking, the first half would have had a much different feeling.
Tristan Payton had a great 47 yard kickoff return, and Chris Johnson was effective on punt returns.
There was a dicey special teams moment in the fourth quarter where a UCF punt was nearly blocked. But the Knights ended up stopping the ball's roll at the 1 so things ended up with a happy result.
No doubt a sharper debut on offense (especially in the first half) would have pleased Knights fans better, but just getting a win after such a long drought felt great. Question marks still surround the offense, especially Holman's play.