Sept. 21, 2009
ORLANDO (UCFAthletics.com) - Coming off a 23-17 home victory over Buffalo Sept. 19, UCF (2-1) is back on the road for a key Conference USA meeting at East Carolina (1-2) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. It will be the second-consecutive week the Knights battle a defending conference champion.
THE OPENING DRIVE
? UCF is trying to start a season at 3-1 for the second time in the past three years.
? The Knights enter the contest on a high note after scoring 16 unanswered second-half points to down Buffalo 23-17. It was UCF's biggest come-from-behind win since 2005.
? In his first start at UCF, Brett Hodges completed 75-percent of his passes (15-of-20) and accounted for 212 yards of total offense.
? UCF has proven to be solid all-around on special teams. UCF is second nationally in punt coverage, seventh in kickoff coverage, ninth in kickoff returns and 26th in punt returns.
? UCF defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable coached at East Carolina in 1990-91 and again from 1998-99.
? UCF has never opened a Conference USA slate at 0-2. UCF went 2-0 in 2005 and 1-1 in 2006-08.
? With eight and seven, respectively, East Carolina and UCF rank amongst the top 10 nationally in the highest number of college graduates on its active roster. UCF's seven players with a bachelor's degree are Michael Greco, T.J. Harnden, Brett Hodges, Cory Hogue, Jordan Richards, Rocky Ross and Alex Thompson.
? UCF is just 1-7 all-time against East Carolina with the lone win coming in Greenville in 2005.
? This ninth meeting between the Knights and Pirates will tie Troy for the longest series in UCF history against a FBS school.
? Michael Greco, who started at quarterback last fall against ECU, made his first career start at safety last week vs. Buffalo and tied for the team lead with eight tackles.
? UCF is 44% on third down this year after being 29% last year.
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK
? UCF trailed defending MAC Champion Buffalo 17-7 at the half on Sept. 19 but scored 16 unanswered second-half points to win the game 23-17. It marked the first time the Knights have rallied back from a double-digit deficit to win since Nov. 19, 2005. UCF trailed Rice by 12, 21-9, at the half in Houston before rallying to win 31-28.
SECOND HALF THE STRONGER ONE
? The Knights have been outscored 44-24 in the first half this year and outscored opponents 46-23 after intermission.
UCF MOVES BALL ALL NIGHT VS. SAMFORD
? On opening night against Samford, UCF moved the ball better than it had since 2007, gaining 571 yards of combined total offense and special teams yardage. It was UCF's best total since the 2007 regular season finale vs. UTEP and the fourth best sum for the Knights ever at Bright House Networks Stadium. It was over 100 yards better than UCF's best effort in 2008 (468 yards vs. USF in overtime).
O'LEARY HEDGES ON HODGES
? Senior Brett Hodges assumed the role of starting quarterback with his steady play in the first two games. He did not disappoint in his first start against Buffalo, completing 15-of-20 passes and piling up 212 yards of total offense (71 rushing, 141 passing) in the win. Hodges had come off of the bench behind Rob Calabrese in the first two games and gone 25-for-43 for 287 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The Wake Forest transfer had previously started for an injured Riley Skinner in 2007 against Nebraska (9/8) and Army (9/15).
LONG DRIVES THIS YEAR
? A sign of UCF's improved offense in 2009 is its ability to sustain long drives. UCF had scoring drives of over 8:30 against both Southern Miss and Buffalo, a feat it had not accomplished since 2007. Against the Bulls, UCF had two separate 14-play scoring drives. It is the first time that UCF had two scoring drives of at least 14 plays in the same game since the 1993 NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs at Youngstown State.
WIN WITH BRYNN
? Sophomore Brynn Harvey ran for 111 yards and two scores in UCF's season-opening win over Samford. It was just the second time in the FBS era (since 1996) that a Knight eclipsed the century mark on opening day. Kevin Smith (who coincidentally attended the Samford game) ran for 217 in a 2007 win at NC State. It was Harvey's second career 100-yard effort, joining his 150 at Marshall last year, and his first career two-TD performance. He narrowly missed having another against Buffalo, ending up with 98. He ran for a pair of touchdowns against both Samford and Buffalo.
Jarvis Geathers SACKS
? Jarvis Geathers played a huge role in UCF's come-from-behind win over Buffalo, recording three second half sacks, forcing fumbles on two of those which were recovered by the Knights. One of the fumbles set up the game-tying field goal and the other effectively ended the game with 0:26 to play.
HALLMAN IS EVERYWHERE VS. BUFFALO
? Safety Derrick Hallman not only tied for the team lead with eight tackles vs. UB, he also recorded one tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and a QB hurry. Meanwhile, he notched UCF's first interception of 2009 when the Bulls were trying to take the lead with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
ROBINSON GOES NORTH AT SOUTHERN MISS
? True freshman Josh Robinson made his first career start on Sept. 12 at Southern Miss and came away leading the Knights with a total of 10 tackles, all of them solo. He also broke up a pass against the Golden Eagles.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
COVERING LIKE A BLANKET
? UCF has proven quite adept at covering its punts and kickoffs thus far in 2009. UCF ranks second in the nation in punt return yardage against and seventh in kickoff return yardage against. With punter Blake Clingan's improved hang time, UCF foes have returned just three of his 14 punts for a total of minus-two yards (-0.67 avg.). Only Florida Atlantic is better at minus-eight yards on two returns (-4.00 avg.). UCF has yielded 191 yards on 12 kickoff returns against (15.92 avg.) this year to rank seventh in the country and first in C-USA.
THIRD IN THE NATION IN KICKOFF RET.
? UCF is excelling in both phases of kickoffs as the Knights also rank ninth in the nation with an average of 32.50 yards per kick return. Meanwhile, the Knights are a solid 26th in punt returns as well, averaging 13.13 yards per try.