The University of Central Florida Knights (2-1) arrive in Provo, Utah after losing to the Florida International Golden Panthers 17-10 in Miami. Jeff Godfrey fumbled the ball deep in FIU territory late in the second half, and the Panthers returned it for a touchdown. Linebacker Jonathan Davis amassed nine tackles in the losing effort. The Brigam Young University Cougars (1-2) host the Knights after losing to arch rival Utah 54-10 in the Cougars’ season opening home game in Provo, Utah. Quarterback Jake Heaps threw his lone touchdown pass to Ross Apo to take a 10-7 lead late in the second quarter, but also threw a pick and fumbled twice.
This is the first meeting between the schools. Bronco Mendenhall (57-23, all at BYU) is in his 7th season as BYU head coach. Mendenhall has lead the Cougars to four consectutive double-digit winning seasons from 2006 to 2009, but finished with only 7 wins in 2010. While defensive coordinator at the University of New Mexico, Bronco help mentor NFL All Pro Brian Urlacher. Jake Heaps, a sophomore, was the top rated quaterback nationally in the 2010 recruiting class out of Skyline HS in Sammamish, Washington. He started off his freshman year slow, but finished by leading the Cougars to a bowl game win over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl. He completed his freshman year with 15 touchdown passes and 2,316 yards.
FIU showed in the win against UCF that constant blitzing can get to Jeff Godfrey if done relentlessly. The Panthers came from the outside, and the inside. It’s a gamble that Godfrey will not find the open reciever or scramble out of trouble for a first down on his own. Houston, SMU and Georgia, the last three teams that UCF faced that used a 3-4 base defense, all tried to blitz to varying degrees of success. Georgia didn’t sack or record a QB hurry, but did injure Godfrey with a late hit. SMU, a defense closer to BYU’s style of defense, recorded 4 sacks and 2 hurries and got 2 interceptions, but Godfrey also ran for timely first down scrambles. A dependable reciever could be the key difference Friday night.
Matt Reynolds is one of the best offensive tackles in the country, and projected to go in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft. The 6-6, 305 pound tackle is mobile and strong, and probably the best competition Darius Nall and Toby Jackson will see this year. Neither defensive end has had a great game yet, but facing an offense that has yet to establish the run effectively is an ideal situation to showcase their pass rushing skills. This matchup will be very fun to watch.
After a few close calls over the last two games, Josh Robinson has been relieved of punt returner duties. J.J. Worton and A.J. Guyton are the two players who look to replace Robinson. Worton has already fielded a few punts this year (officially returning only one for 10 yards ), and Guyton fielded punts for much of 2009 and the first half of 2010, with a lifetime average of 10.85 yards per return, and a long of 33 yards.
The Knights currently hold claim to one of the top defenses in the country, ranked first in pass defense (93.7 ypg) and third in points allowed (6.7). Their most impressive display was a 30-3 stomping of Boston College, in which they gave up just 141 total yards and snatched two interceptions. The Cougars’ blowout loss to the Utes was a hard pill to swallow, and looked like they literally gave up in the secodn half after a closely contested first half performance. The Cougars struggle against the run, giving up 157.3 rushing yards per game – 77th in the nation. They allowed Utah to march for 242 yards on the ground, avenging more than six yards per carry.
If the Knights can take care of the ball and wear down their opponent using several key backs pounding the run, their defense will do the rest as it has done so far this season. The Cougars had only 11 net rushing yards in the loss to Utah and fumbled six times. Pass rush also has been an issue for BYU, which has yet to tally a sack through its first three ballgames. If Jeff Godfrey has time to make plays, UCF becomes a lot more dangerous than most people give their one dimensional offense credit for. Seem kind of odd that we're taking a play for Friday night? We thought we'd increase our bankroll largely in fashion following last night's Cincinnati crucifying of NC State and pick our spots for Saturday's usual stacked card. Best of luck however you play!