Central Florida at Florida International
- Start Time: 7:00 PM EST. Saturday, September 24.
- Location: FIU Stadium, Miami, Florida
- TV: beIN Sports
- Streaming: beIN Sports
- Radio: FIU: Here. Central Florida: Here.
- Records: FIU: 0-3. Central Florida: 1-2.
- Live Stats: Here.
- Line: UCF -6.5. O/U: 54.
When UCF won the season opener versus South Carolina State, that marked the first win since 2014 for the program. Since then, the Knights have lost to Michigan and Maryland, the latter only by six points. They are improving under Frost and should win a few more games as the season progresses.
After running a Cadillac type of offense in Oregon, Frost has inherited a clunker at UCF. The Knights are poor at both running and passing the ball. Dontravius Wilson and Jawon Hamilton have just over 300 yards combined on the ground, but are sitting at a combined 3.9 yards per carry. They may have found a playmaker in freshman Adrian Killins. The 5-8 running back has over 15 yards per carry.
The Knights may have found a quarterback best suited to run the offense in freshman McKenzie Milton. The Hawaii native saw his first action of the season versus Maryland, passing for 260 yards and two touchdowns. His play nearly led UCF to the upset win. Senior Justin Holman is expected to be ready to play after being limited by an injury, but Milton will be tough to push out of the starting spot.
For all of the struggles passing the ball the UCF has experienced in 2015, they have been able to get the ball to a myriad of targets. 11 different players have been targeted four or more times with Tre’Quan Smith and Taylor Oldham the only players to see double-digit targets. Tight end Jordan Akins has forced himself into the equation with a 32.8 yards per catch average to start the season.
Overall, there are seven true and redshirt freshmen expected to see significant playing time on offense versus FIU.
The biggest problem on defense is a lack of consistency. They do a great job in stopping several passes in a row, but then give up a huge completion that negates anything positive earned from the previous plays. Just the fact that they are a top 40 passing efficiency defense and not even in the top 80 in overall passing defense says everything.
Players like Shaquem and Shaquille Griffin, Tony Guerad, and Errol Clarke will make life tough for FIU.
To put it kindly, the Panthers are an October 15 trip to Charlotte away from looking at an 0-12 season. They have been unable to generate any sort of offense while only holding one opponent to less than 25 points.
Even though running back Alex Gardner is putting up solid statistics, the entire run game is entirely ho-hum. No one really stands out behind an offensive line that has struggled to make holes form. They should have some success as UCF is still trying to find its identity under a new coaching staff.
The biggest disappointment has been in the passing game. Alex McGough was expected to take a large step forward as a junior, but a combination of poor play and injuries has stunted his growth. He has yet to throw a touchdown pass on the year. Backup Maurice Alexander has been very capable as a backup with 136 yards passing on only 19 attempts. He may see more playing time no matter what McGough’s health is later on in the year.
The one real receiving threat that should worry UCF is tight end Jonnu Smith. The senior is a NFL ready tight end that has caught 16 catches for 176. He is being underutilized in the passing game, something that has gone on for the majority of his college career.
The less we talk about the FIU defense, the better. They have multiple good parts including linebackers Anthony Wint and Treyvon Williams, but have been unable to put things together as a cohesive unit. The only real positive for the defense is the ability to limit explosive plays, ranking #30 in that category versus the run. They should be able to slow down or even completely stop the UCF run game.
This is a matchup of teams that are a combined 1-5 on the season, so we cannot expect good football. Scott Frost has the Knights moving slowly in the right direction while Ron Turner is yet again stuck in neutral. Expect UCF to win in a close game.
Central Florida 24, Florida International 17.