Where do the Knights go from here?
Alright, let’s get this over with…
Well, another week of UCF Football has come and gone. Another year of Homecoming has come and gone. Besides the success of Spirit Splash and a great turnout for DJ Shaq, I don’t have many rah-rah, good feelings for you, this week. I’ve really done my absolute best and tried to stay positive all season.
“We’ll bounce back!”
“Plenty of football left to play!”
“Enjoy the season!”
“We can still make a bowl game!”
It’s become increasingly difficult to watch this team falter week after week. UCF was favored to win (again) this week and yet still found another way to walk away with a loss. Despite outgaining West Virginia on the field (463 yards to 450) and having more first downs (27 to 25), the Knights never even led the Mountaineers, this past Saturday. I was in FBC Mortgage Stadium for the entire game to witness what, looking back now, seems like was unavoidable. It never felt like UCF had control of the game or would win. Perhaps it’s just that hindsight is 20/20 and I KNOW that UCF didn’t win. But it never even felt like we were going to win the game. West Virginia’s offense dominated the time of possession and ran the same play-action, quarterback roll-out, play all day long. UCF had no answers on defense and the offense was unable to complete drives when they needed to.
It’s tough to win any game with FOUR turnovers. Four turnovers, which led to at least 21 points for the Mountaineers. Turnovers are never going to be acceptable, nor will the team win many games handing the ball over that many times. Coach Malzahn seemed more irritable this week in his post-game presser, saying that he thought this was a good team. Maybe, they are. I don’t FEEL like UCF is a “bad” team. There is a ton of talent in the locker room. They’re able to put up some gaudy offensive numbers (besides points) when they really want to. The defense hasn’t been “great” but it doesn’t feel like the ONLY reason UCF has lost five straight games. So, what is it? What gives? Honestly, I don’t know. The only thing I do know is that this isn’t fun, right now.
After the game was over, I changed my plans and made the 2.5-hour drive back to my home in South Florida. I was drained and simply didn’t have the energy to do much else. I spent the time in the car looking for (aka desperately searching for) an explanation for this five-game losing skid. I still don’t have one. On the field, UCF is a dangerous team, but clearly not a good one. Before the season started, I expected the Knights to be a 6-6 or 7-5 win team. I was fully prepared to be satisfied with a bowl game berth. I never gave the Big12 championship talk much thought. It was never going to happen and if you thought so, you were very much mistaken. But a bowl game should have been achievable and, while it still TECHNICALLY is, just like the game on Saturday, it doesn’t really feel like UCF will manage to do even that. Maybe I’m wrong.
So where do we go from here? The Knights will need to find a way to win three of their last four games in order to salvage a bowl game berth. Possible, but unlikely. Their remaining games are winnable, of course, but almost all of our games this season have been (save for the Kansas game). We go on the road to face a familiar foe in Cincinnati(and their chili) this week. The Bearcasts are arguably worse than UCF, but they always play the Knights tough. Neither team will want to lose this game, plus UCF has to play on the road at Nippert. UCF is favored and should win, but that means absolutely nothing. After that, the annual “Space Game” brings the Knights back home followed by another road stint at Texas Tech, followed by the regular season finale at home against Houston.
At this point, the most important thing (for me) is for the coaching staff to keep our upcoming batch of recruits happy, engaged, and committed. I’d give up the remaining four games if it meant that UCF managed to sign the recruits we have lined up in the 2024 class. Those recruits will be the lifeblood of the program moving forward. I’d also like to see UCF rotate in the newer guys to get some much-needed game reps. Let’s start planning for the future. Playing JRP and RJ Harvey, seems like a sunk cost, at this point. I know that it’s important to put your “best foot forward” and perhaps the team and coaches truly believe that a bowl game is possible, but most of the starters are likely done after this season, so we need to plan ahead.
Let’s go get a win at Cincinnati.
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