Knights fo­cus on pre­par­ing for Tem­ple

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Brian Mur­phy Or­lando Sentinel Cor­re­spon­dent

Satur­day is typ­i­cally the cul­mi­na­tion of a week’s worth of work in col­lege foot­ball.

This Satur­day for No. 10 UCF the foot­ball team, how­ever, was just the be­gin­ning.

“To­day is Satur­day, but it’s our Mon­day,” UCF coach Josh He­u­pel said. “Kids were here at 7:30, in the build­ing. We’re back into game-week mode.”

The Knights took it fairly easy dur­ing their bye last week, sched­ul­ing light prac­tices on Wednes­day and Thurs­day be­tween days off that al­lowed play­ers to rest, re­cover and get an early look at their next op­po­nent, the Tem­ple Owls.

Tem­ple is one of three Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence East Divi­sion teams, along with UCF and South Florida, that en­tered Satur­day un­de­feated in con­fer­ence play.

The Owls have won three con­sec­u­tive games and have al­lowed 17 or fewer points and not given up a pass play of greater than 15 yards dur­ing the run.

“I think it’s go­ing to be one of the best de­fenses we play all year,” UCF tight end Michael Col­u­biale said. “They play strong and sound de­fense, so we’re go­ing to have our work cut out for us.”

Be­tween work­ing on his Tem­ple game plan, He­u­pel said he would have his eye on some of Satur­day’s ac­tion around the sport, es­pe­cially what’s hap­pen­ing in the AAC.

“I got a few games that we’ll be record­ing and, late tonight, maybe I’ll get a chance to sit down and watch a cou­ple,” he said. “... I think it’s al­ways fun to watch just con­fer­ence games and get a lit­tle bit of a sense of how those teams are play­ing.”

In­jury up­dates

It’s still un­clear whether the Knights will have quar­ter­back McKenzie Mil­ton back un­der cen­ter come Thurs­day night.

He­u­pel said Satur­day that Mil­ton, who sat out the win at East Carolina due to in­jury, didn’t take any snaps with the first­team of­fense dur­ing ei­ther of the team’s two prac­tices last week. He­u­pel added that Mil­ton “is kind of dayto-day at this point.”

The coach had more op­ti­mistic news to re­port re­gard­ing the health of safety Richie Grant, who was seen fol­low­ing Wednes­day’s prac­tice with his left arm in a sling. He­u­pel said Grant “is full go. He’ll be ready to play on [Thurs­day].”

Wright on the money

When UCF fans think about their team’s ex­plo­sive scor­ing of­fense, names such as Mil­ton, Adrian Killins or Gabriel Davis prob­a­bly come to mind. But you shouldn’t over­look the man who is UCF’s all­time lead­ing scorer: se­nior kicker Matthew Wright.

“He’s part of the ex­plo­sive scor­ing of­fense, yeah,” He­u­pel said. “The ball pops off his foot pretty good.”

The ball has been pop­ping off of Wright’s foot and through the up­rights every week, with­out fail. He has con­verted each of his 41 ex­tra-point at­tempts and has made each of his eight field-goal at­tempts, in­clud­ing a 4-of-4 mark on tries from at least 40 yards. His three field-goal per­for­mance at ECU led to him be­ing hon­ored as the AAC’s Spe­cial Teams Player of the Week for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive week.

“Just know­ing that I can help the team any way that I can, it’s nice to see it rec­og­nized,” Wright said.

Wright knows that touch­downs are al­ways the goal, but when drives stall, his team­mates are grate­ful to have him around as an­other scor­ing weapon.

“It takes a lot of pres­sure off you when you know that if we so hap­pen not to get a touch­down, we know it’s al­most an au­to­matic three points,” run­ning back Taj Mc­Gowan said. “That’s a great feel­ing.”

UCF at Col­lege Game­Day

De­fen­sive end Ti­tus Davis said Satur­day that he was look­ing for­ward to watch­ing the Ge­or­gia-Florida game. Many UCF fans made the trip to that game in Jack­sonville, mak­ing their pres­ence known dur­ing ESPN’s Col­lege Game­Day pregame show. Those fans cer­tainly had Davis’ sup­port, who said he’s all for any­thing that keeps the UCF brand in the spot­light.

“That’s one thing that I al­ways wanted as far as be­ing a col­lege ath­lete: I wanted for my team to be one of those talked-about teams on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” he said. “Hav­ing that, it’s eye-open­ing.”

He­u­pel said UCF’s in­creased ex­po­sure in the me­dia on the ESPN pregame show is a sign of how much youth­ful en­ergy sur­rounds the pro­gram. It’s some­thing He­u­pel said “is just so unique to any­thing that I’ve been around.”

“Our logo is rec­og­nized coast to coast and we’re be­ing talked about — good and bad — every sin­gle day,” He­u­pel said. “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.