UCF’s keys to victory vs Louisville

Written by: Andrew Johnson (@RealNews102)

Orlando, FL – The Gus Bus rolls on as UCF (1-0) hosts the Louisville Cardinals (0-1) on Friday in the Bounce House at 7:30 p.m.

UCF steamrolled FCS opponent South Carolina State 56-10 to open the season while Louisville took a dreadful 31-7 loss to Syracuse. 

Last year’s match-up between the two was truly defining in the sense that UCF lost five starters to unfortunate injuries and developing momentum from a new coaching staff was stalled. 

The way in which UCF lost was also distasteful. With only 1:21 remaining in the fourth, a Louisville interception returned for a touchdown gave the Cardinals a 42-35 lead, which was the final margin.

Despite being stunned in their season opener, Louisville is still a motivated team UCF has circled on its calendar. 

“If I remember right, their back was a little bit against the wall last year when we played them, so we know we’ll get there best,” head coach Gus Malzahn said.

Here are UCF’s keys to victory as Louisville makes its first trip to Orlando. 


Offensive Line Improvement 


One position group UCF fans figured would be secure this season is the experienced offensive line group. Heading into Friday’s matchup, this is one of the bigger concerns I have for UCF. SC State was able to pressure Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee with ease and he seemed to scramble around a lot more than anticipated. This could be a result of position changes along the line. Veteran Sam Jackson has transitioned to left guard and is continually adjusting to new assignments. UCF also brought in two transfers in Ryan Swoboda and Tylan Grable who have played a lot of football but are still learning the playbook in real action. The offensive line should improve and perform well against a Louisville defense that gave up 207 rushing yards to Syracuse. 


Contain Louisville rushing attack 


The Knights must contain the mobile abilities of Malik Cunnigham as he scorched the defense for 99 rushing yards with two scores on the ground last season. He’s known to be a lethal weapon when escaping the pocket and will give UCF defensive ends and linebackers important assignments. Against Syracuse, he recorded 16 of 22, 152 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions with 13 rushes and 34 yards to add. Not his best performance but that doesn’t mean he won’t have one of his better ones when facing UCF. The defense also should focus on containing Tennessee transfer Tiyon Evans. He recorded 89 rushing yards and one score against Syracuse. 


Johnny Richardson needs more touches  


Doesn’t matter what it takes, Johnny Richardson needs more touches. Somebody has to say it. If it means Isaiah Bowser gets fewer carries, so be it. He led the team in rushing yards last season with just 104 attempts. He was also fourth on the team in receiving yards, totaling 25 catches for 226 yards and one touchdown. He averaged 11.8 yards per carry last week against SC State with 59 rushing yards on just 5 touches. When Richardson gets the ball in the open field fans have to hold their breath because he’s one juke away from breaking down the sideline. Malzahn and Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey have to find ways to get Richardson the ball. Whether that’s more screen designs or just running him through the tackles. UCF has one of the more stacked RB rooms in college football but you have to put the ball in X factors hands. Richardson has improved his run balance, speed control, catching hands, and overall confidence in the offense. 


Better special teams play


College football enthusiasts and the average watcher witnessed the importance of recruiting college football kickers this weekend. All around the country football teams experienced terrible special teams play and UCF was one of them. Missed field goal by Daniel Obarski. Punt return by freshman Xavier Townsend called back. Shanked punt by Andrew Osteen. UCF will have to excel in all three phases of the game to earn a conference championship. Malzahn said the team will focus on protecting the punter and eliminating penalties moving forward. Oh wait, remember the SC State converted fake punt? Yeah, improvements must be made. 


Positive Note: Quadric Bullard did block and recover a punt for a touchdown.

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