Knights focus on preparing for Temple
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.”
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.”