John Denton's Knights Insider: Looking Back on the 2007 Victory at NC State

Sept. 8, 2010

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Bruce Miller and David Williams still vividly remember the anxious moments right before the opening kickoff when they shouted lines from the movie ``300'' to fire each other up. Kamar Aiken and A.J. Guyton can still see the nervous look that they shot to each other on that first play, assuring themselves that they would be all right in their first college game.

Lawrence Young has replayed his first collegiate interception over and over in his head roughly a thousand times and even occasionally pops in the videotape for inspiration. Derrick Hallman can still remember his chants to fans following each big defensive stop, reciting them as if they came three days ago and not three years ago.

And even though Miller's first-ever college sack came via a blown protection by the opposing offensive line, the way he playfully remembers it now was it coming off some spectacular move that he executed.

All of those memories came three seasons ago from UCF's season-opening 25-23 defeat of NC State. And not a day usually goes by that some moment from that glorious afternoon for UCF doesn't pop up in the conversation among the Knights' senior class.

And with NC State (1-0) dead ahead for UCF (1-0) Saturday night at Bright House Networks Stadium, memories from that landmark defeat have been flowing back to the team.

``That game comes up all the time with us, and especially now that we're playing NC State again, I'd think we'll talk about it plenty this week,'' admitted Young, who had nine tackles and that interception in his first college start three seasons ago. ``We've talked about that game a lot to our younger players who haven't played in games like that. We recap that game to them to show them what we're capable of here.''

UCF is hoping that it's capable of a second defeat of the Wolfpack. With a large senior class that values the memories of the 2007 defeat of NC State, the Knights head into this game brimming with the confidence that they can pull off the kind of victory that should garner them some national attention. A victory on Saturday could put UCF in position to crack the Top 25 for the first time in school history and announce the Knights as a strong favorite to win Conference USA.

``Every non-conference game is a good chance for us to prove ourselves and this is a good chance against a team from the ACC,'' Aiken said. ``A game like this, if we can win it would give us a good chance to get our name out there nationally.''

UCF's upset of NC State was memorable to most fans because of star tailback Kevin Smith's 80-yard touchdown run on the game's first play from scrimmage. But it also proved to be the launching pad for success for many current Knights.

Miller, who is the nation's active leader in sacks (27) and tackles for loss (44), announced himself as a force for years to come that day with a sack that led to a safety that proved to be the game's winning points. Miller said while his sack was his proudest memory from that game, he can't help but think of the primal humor he and Williams screamed to one another during the kickoff coverage following Smith's touchdown.

``We were both out there as redshirt freshmen and it was intense for us. We were trying to not be so stiff, loosen it up and have a little fun with it,'' Miller remembered. ``When David turned around and actually yelled, `This is where we fight, this is where they die (from 300),' I thought he was Leonitis or a Spartan. The funny part is that I was so jacked up to make a tackle, but I actually got blocked pretty bad. That was my first play ever and I didn't have a clue. I got popped pretty good. Now, we laugh about it.''

Hallman, one of UCF's most vocal leaders, also did plenty of laughing that day while making his collegiate debut for the Knights defense. He thinks that UCF caught NC State by surprise that day and knows that the same thing won't be possible on Saturday night.

``The family section was right behind our bench and I remember saying, `Oh, they picked the wrong day to play the Knights! They thought they had a pushover,'' Hallman said. ``I just remember coming back to the sideline after every defensive stop and talking to the fans. I was selling out. Getting a big win in your first college game, I'll always remember that feeling.''


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John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.