ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) – After downing Cincinnati last week on the national stage, the No. 8/9 UCF football team will head to Tampa for the final game of the regular season against War On I-4 rival South Florida. Kickoff is set for 4:15 p.m. on Friday on ESPN.
Due to the short week, head coach Josh Heupel met with the media on Wednesday after practice to discuss the preparations heading into his first War On I-4.
“The guys have been really focused,” Heupel said. “It’s a short week. That first practice, we took some of the pads off them. We got a lot of good mental work. They’re ready to go compete. Obviously, this is a big game for our program. We’re healthy and ready to roll.”
When asked about how the team was handling the short week, playing a rival and the Thanksgiving holiday, Heupel talked about how playing big games at this time of year is what they players have dreamed of since they were kids.
“It is a unique week,” Heupel added. “It’s a rivalry game on a short week. I think our kids have handled that well up until this point. The uniqueness of playing on Thanksgiving weekend is something you grow up watching as a kid. You want to play in those games. I think our kids are looking forward to that opportunity. We’ll get a chance to share a Thanksgiving meal with our players and some of their families. Then, we’ll drive over to Tampa and get ready to play a good team.”
After facing one of the top defenses in the nation last weekend against Cincinnati, Heupel spoke about the challenges that South Florida brings in all three phases of the game.
“I think they cause issues in all three phases,” Heupel continued. "Offensively, they have explosive playmakers. We need to do a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage. On their kickoff and punt return units, they have guys who are dynamic and can change the way the game is played. Defensively, they’re fast and athletic. Their front four create penetration on early downs and do a good job of creating negative plays. There are tests in all three phases for us.”
Knight Nation is expected to show up in droves on Friday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium. Heupel talked about how he looks forward to seeing plenty of UCF fans who will make the short drive down to Tampa.
“We want to see that place packed in black and gold,” Heupel said. “I expect our fans to show up in great numbers and provide a great environment in that stadium.”