Marc Daniels' From the Press Box: Looking Back Before the Road Tour Begins

Sept. 13, 2010

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By Marc Daniels

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - There are many ways to look at Saturday's game versus NC State. One way is that when a team commits five turnovers, converts 1-of-11 third downs and commits costly game-changing penalties, that team likely loses by four touchdowns. Another way to analyze the game from a UCF angle is that the Knights battled back from a 21-point deficit and had a chance to tie the game and perhaps pull out a dramatic win. But no matter how you look at it, it is a loss. There are bright spots to take from the game and there are mistakes to be corrected.

This week also brings the first road game with a trip to Buffalo. Before we get to the Bulls, here are some of the leftovers from NC State:

Turnovers...Turnovers: Yes, the Knights were still in the game. But you can't give any team that many gifts. Tip balls are going to happen in a game, but there were other plays where you just cannot cough it up. NC State scored three touchdowns off UCF turnovers, including the pick-six interception.

Defense...Defense: What is the following? Punt, end of the half, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of game. That would be NC State's final nine possessions. The Wolfpack had one legit drive and it came at the end of the first and start of the second quarter. They went 11-plays and 83 yards and scored. Other than that drive, NC State had 156 yards. The only thing missing from the defensive effort was a turnover.

He's fast: One NC State media member said as they left the press box, "Wow...that kid is going to be special and boy is he fast." Jeff Godfrey provided a spark for the offense. His ability to use his feet to avoid a sack and extend a play is valuable and brings an added twist to UCF's running game. Godfrey throws a laser and receivers need to be ready because the ball will be there. If he starts this week at Buffalo, it might be the ideal place. No disrespect to the Bulls, but UB Stadium is not likely to be as hostile as the crowd at Kansas State next week.

Speaking of the Buffalo Bulls, UB dropped a 34-6 game at Baylor on Saturday. They faced a talented and athletic quarterback in Baylor's Robert Griffin, who passed for 297 yards and ran for two scores. Buffalo opened the year pasting Rhode Island 31-0. Jeff Quinn replaced Turner Gill as the head coach. Gill went to Kansas while Quinn was Brian Kelly's offensive coordinator at Cincinnati. He coached Cincinnati in its Sugar Bowl loss to Florida.

After a bowl season in 2008 when the Bulls went 8-6, they fell back to 5-7 last season. Sophomore quarterback Jerry Davis played well in their opener but was just 18-for-46 for 163 yards with an interception at Baylor.

It's UCF's first road game of the season and if you are going to play at Buffalo, it's better to play in mid-September than mid-anything after September. Here are some key matchups for this week:

Jeff Godfrey vs. Buffalo's defensive front seven: Godfrey has shown that he can run. He can avoid a rush and rollout to either run or give someone a chance to get open. And he can certainly get outside like we saw late against NC State. The Bulls switch to a 3-4 front this season. Godfrey, or Rob Calabrse, will need time to throw. NC State offered a variety of blitz packages and while Buffalo may not be as deep as the Wolfpack, expect them to blitz. Then again, that might be the worst decision to make because if Godfrey gets past the front seven, watch out.

UCF's running game vs. Buffalo's defense: The injury to Brynn Harvey was magnified the last two weeks. While Jonathan Davis has had his moments, Harvey is a big bruising, ball-controlling back. UCF has not had that in its first two games. Godfrey will likely help the run game by spreading defenses out, but you don't lose an all-conference back and not have it impact your offense.

UCF's front four vs. Buffalo's offense: The Knights' defensive front eventually got going against NC State. Bruce Miller picked up a sack, but so did Troy Davis who appears to be poised for a big season. Darius Nall was involved in the key tackle in five-straight plays at one point Saturday night. Buffalo has a new quarterback who struggled at Baylor and a ground game that is relying on a redshirt freshman, UCF's defensive front can set an early tempo in this game.

Big plays vs. Big plays: Buffalo is likely to kick away from Quincy McDuffie after his return against NC State. But the Knights need more big plays. Aside from McDuffie's return, UCF's longest play is 35 yards so far. There are too many weapons to not have some big plays. This should be a week where that changes.

UCF leads the series 6-1. It is worth noting the home team is 6-1. Last year, Buffalo had the lead at the half 17-7 before turning the ball over four times on five second half possessions. Buffalo plays three straight road games after this week against UConn, Bowling Green and Northern Illinois.

Knights notes and more: I'm sure it is a coincidence that the Conference USA basketball schedule makers have UCF ending the year at Marshall. Aside from a hostile crowd in Huntington for obvious reasons, it also makes for a grueling week for Donnie Jones' team. UCF will play at Marshall on a Saturday and then have to head to El Paso two days later for the conference tournament. How many travel agents get vacation requests for those two destinations in one trip?...Mike Lynche, who sang the national anthem before the NC State game, couldn't stop admiring what UCF has built when it comes to football. "I remember our old weight room. It was a just a little bit smaller than the new one."...Final thought: It's not the fact that construction crews were working on the 408 after the UCF game that put myself and a lot of fans in bumper-to-bumper traffic for several miles. No, it was the group of 20 workers in those orange vests standing watching us in bumper-to-bumper traffic for several miles that got me.

Marc Daniels' From the Press Box runs several times per month on UCFAthletics.com. Listen to Marc during UCF football, men's basketball and baseball radio broadcasts on the UCF-ISP Sports Network. Each weekday, Marc hosts "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando from 9-11 a.m.