Sept. 11, 2011
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By John Denton
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - When head coach George O'Leary dubbed Saturday ``a great night for UCF,'' he had several aspects in mind from the feel-good weekend for the Knights.
First, the outcome - a 30-3 thumping of Boston College - had O'Leary smiling on Sunday afternoon. The veteran coach challenged his team before the game to win two of the three phases of the game, and by the time the final horn sounded O'Leary felt his Knights had the upper hand on offense, defense and special teams on Saturday night.
O'Leary was also in awe of the noise and enthusiasm of a Bright House Networks Stadium crowd of 45,671, the fourth-largest in the five-year history of UCF's on-campus stadium. O'Leary called it UCF's greatest crowd considering that Boston College brought few fans and the stadium was packed almost entirely with UCF backers.
``I thought the crowd was outstanding and for the last two games the student body has been great. They were into the game, they stayed throughout the end of the game and they are a major factor with these other teams as far as the noise,'' O'Leary raved. ``As our fans stood and started chanting, `U-C-F, U-C-F,' that riles the other team and gives them trouble with their cadence. It's great how the fans got into the game and there's no question that's the biggest UCF crowd we've ever had. We filled pretty much that whole stadium.''
UCF improved to 2-0 and climbed to No. 27 in the USA Today national rankings and No. 30 in the Associated Press poll with another dominant effort against a BCS-affiliated school. UCF still hasn't allowed a touchdown this season and has a streak of 12 consecutive quarters without allowing a TD dating back to last season.
And offensively, the Knights got big performances from quarterback Jeff Godfrey, tailback Latavius Murry and receivers Quincy McDuffie and A.J. Guyton to roll up a 422-141 advantage in total yards in the game.
``Defensively our guys were playing so well and we were feeding off of them. Offensively, we started a little late, but later in the game we got going and got in the end zone,'' said Godfrey, referring to UCF's 9-3 first half and its 21-0 fourth-quarter burst. ``The crowd was great. It was a good night for the UCF Nation.''
UCF will look to continue its unbeaten run next Saturday when it plays Florida International in Miami. FIU (2-0) upset Louisville on the road last Friday night, a game many of the Knights watched on television. FIU got 74 and 83-yard TD catches from wide out T.Y. Hilton and a 71-yard interception return to pull off the upset.
For UCF, the FIU game falls between the emotional high of beating Boston College on Saturday and the nationally televised showdown at BYU in two weeks. But O'Leary said FIU will have UCF's full attention because of the respect factor between the two teams and close ties between many of the players.
``You have to be impressed with what (FIU) did to Louisville. Obviously, that T.Y. Hilton kid is an outstanding player, but FIU is very well-coached and they were in the right place at the right time,'' O'Leary said. ``It'll be a big game going down there Saturday and I know our players are looking forward to it. We have a bunch of kids that played with a lot of (FIU's players), so I don't think we'll have any trouble getting our kids ready to play this one.''
UCF's defense, which led Conference USA in several key statistics last season, leads the nation in fewest points allowed (1.5 per game). Thus far, the Knights have answered the questions that persisted throughout the offseason after UCF lost all-time sacks leader Bruce Miller, most of the linebacking corps and defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable in the offseason.
But so far, the Knights have racked up five pass break-ups, four sacks and three interceptions. And again, they haven't allowed a foe in the end zone yet. O'Leary was particularly complimentary of cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Josh Robinson, who had an interception and a pass-break-up that led to another interception on Saturday.
``Our cornerbacks are playing very well coverage wise, but they'll be tested this week,'' O'Leary said. ``We'll continue looking at tape (of FIU) and stressing improvement from our football team in all three areas.''
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at firstname.lastname@example.org.