In front of a large, rabid crowd at Bright House Stadium the UCF Knights lost a heartbreaker, 14-15, at the hands of the FIU Golden Panthers. In true heartbreak-fashion, the game ended on a missed field goal attempt by UCF kicker Matthew Wright with 25 seconds left on the clock.
The game was originally a lopsided affair as the Knights appeared dominant, and rushed out to a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. After the Knights couldn't convert on a 4th and short at the end of the 2nd quarter, the offense became completely anemic, struggling to convert third downs, and garnering less than 2 yards a carry on the ground. This terrible performance occurred despite Holman performing adequately to the tune of 249 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The blame shouldn't solely rest on the shoulders of the offense; the defense was equally as uninspired. Despite several third down stops here and there, the knights could never establish a defensive tone and teeter-tottered between looking sad and aimless, and looking like a tenacious group of tacklers. We expected a drop in performance from this group after losing so many talented players, but no one could predict the lack of focus this group would have against an FIU team that, in all fairness, is likely better than their 2014 record would suggest.
All in all, we need to examine the coaching on display during this dismal performance. Despite Stanback's struggles on the ground, we saw several rushing attempts late in the fourth quarter that garnered very little yardage and did nothing to counter the clearly superior FIU defense. The Knights were at their best when Holman was allowed to survey the field and scramble for yards when permitted, but this was a rarity, and when the clock ticked down the Knights looked clueless.
I think time needs to be taken, and the offense and defense needs to be evaluated in order to determine strengths and weaknesses - and changes need to be made accordingly - otherwise this season could go south fast. For now, all we can do is lick our wounds and rest assured that this is only the beginning of the season, and one bad loss is not going to keep us from competing with the rest of the AAC.