3:06pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

C-USA’s Best Offense vs. #1 Defense

It’s a matchup of Conference USA’s best offense versus the league’s best defense today at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The Herd comes into the game ranked first in the conference in passing offense with 390 yards per game, scoring offense with 43.1 points a game and its 568 yards of total offense is tops in the league as well.
On the other side of the ball UCF leads the league in those same categories. 200 yards passing defense, 22 points allowed per game and the 352 yards of total offense all set the mark for defenses in Conference USA. The reason for the Knights success is not a secret.

“UCF is the same UCF since George has been there,” say offensive coordinator Bill Legg. “They extremely sound fundamentally. They know where there supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be there and they play hard.”

While Marshall was setting season highs on offense last week, gaining 629 yards of total offense against Southern Miss, UCF was making life difficult for Memphis. The Knights limited the Tigers’ offense to just 121 yards passing.

The strength of UCF’s defense starts up front with the defensive line. Victor Grey, Thomas Niles, E.J. Dunston and Troy Davis will plug holes and tie up linemen to allow the linebackers roam freely. Gray will split time between tackle and end. Davis leads the team with six tackles for loss and four sacks. Herd tackle Garrett Scott is ready for a physical game from the Knights’ front four.

“They’re just real physical so we’re just going to have to come out and show them how physical we are.”

The linebackers, Jonathan Davis, Terrance Plummer, and Ray Shipman can each play the run and the pass effectively. Davis and Shipman are both seniors while Plummer is the young guy of the group as a sophomore. Bill Legg says their reaction time and ability to play without thinking is impressive.

“This defense will have 11 guys on the field that don’t have to think about what they’re supposed to do and they veteran guys.”

UCF’s secondary is the strength of the defense and it is led by free safety Kemal Ishmael. He is eighth in tackles on UCF’s all-time list with 303. Last week he jumped on a loose ball at the UCF two-yard line to stop a Memphis drive in its tracks. It was his third fumble recovery of the season.

Safety Clayton Geathers tallied a career high 13 tackles last week against the Tigers. On the outside A.J. Bouye and Jordan Ozerities helped the secondary limit Memphis’s passing attack. The Tigers longest completion of the night was for 17 yards. This is the same secondary that held Ohio State’s Braxton Miller to a long of 15 yards and just 155 yards passing at the Horseshoe in Columbus.

“They’re not going to make mistakes on the defensive side of the ball. You’re going to have to beat them.”

Legg says something must give tonight with the leagues best offense taking on the league’s best defense.

“Can we be consistent enough to move the ball? Big plays are going to be hard to come by just because of the way they play.”

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