John Denton's Knights Insider Insights

Sept. 11, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - For a second consecutive week, UCF rotated its three standout tailbacks throughout the 30-3 whipping of Boston College Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium.

Ronnie Weaver (19 yards), Latavius Murray (72 yards, one TD) and Brynn Harvey (47 yards) split carries most of the night, ensuring that the Knights had fresh legs on the field throughout the game.

While having three starting quality tailbacks is certainly a luxury for UCF, head coach George O'Leary and offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said that there will likely come a time when the Knights pick one or two of the backs and use them exclusively. That was certainly the case late in the game on Saturday when Murray turned into UCF's featured back and ran wild in the fourth quarter.

``As a running back you just have to get in there and run with a four-yard attitude,'' said Murray, who had just one carry in the first half, but finished the game strong. ``The line knew it was going to be a physical game and the running backs do as well, and we took that attitude to the field. ... This is just how it's going to be and it might be like this all season (with the rotating running backs). But when you get your drive and get your carries you have to make the most of them. Most of my carries came in the second half and I just did what I had to do.''

Weaver won the hotly contested starting job in training camp by running with power and bringing a consistent effort. Murray, the MVP of the Conference USA title game and Liberty Bowl last December, is one of UCF's best pure athletes and catches the ball out of the backfield extremely well. Harvey, who is back after missing all of last season with a knee injury, is a workhorse back who has the best vision of any UCF back.

``I expect those guys to be competing every practice and every game,'' O'Leary said. ``There's going to get to a time where I say play this one. Harvey is a kid who gets better as the game goes along when you look at his history. He starts off with a three or four-yard play and then all of a sudden when you are bettering those guys they become nine and 10-yard plays. So I don't see him as the kind of kid that you want to throw in there as a spot player.

``Eventually, we'll have to see who has the hot hand and then go with them,'' O'Leary continued. ``I think we need to keep competition in there, but all three of them bring something to the table for us. They all have different running styles.''

  • LET'S GET PHYSICAL: Much of the talk before the game was about how Boston College planned to use its massive offensive line to play smash-mouth football against UCF's smallish front seven on Saturday night.

In addition to giving up just three points and only seven first downs, UCF took great pride in the fact that it was the more physical team in Saturday's game.

``Everybody says we're undersized and Boston College was talking about us being undersized and they were going to run all over us,'' junior safety Kemal Ishmael said. ``That just amped us up and we used our speed to our advantage.''

Another huge advantage for the Knights was being able to harass BC quarterback Chase Rettig without having to blitz. Josh Linam, Jonathan Davis and LaBranden Richardson all recorded sacks.

Said O'Leary: ``Their quarterback was under duress all night. The difference was the speed of the game.''

  • THIRRRRRRRRRRRDDDDDD DOWNNNNNN: Not a day goes by during football season that Erik Kohler isn't stopped somewhere out in public and asked to repeat his catchphrases of ``Thirrdddddddd down'' and ``that's another UCF ... first down.''

Kohler has become somewhat of an institution at UCF, serving as the public address announcer for the UCF football team for an 11th straight season. Kohler, a UCF grad, got his start working for WUCF and was initially approached about doing the PA for the Knights' baseball team. Kohler has done the past 12 years of UCF baseball and there's not a person at Bright House Networks Stadium that enjoys his job more on game days than the excitable Kohler.

``I found a way to get involved, contribute to the athletic program and it's been a wonderful run. I just hope that it continues for years to come,'' Kohler said. ``I feel like the 12th man and I have a part in every play. It's a little different doing public address than play-by-play, which I've had experience doing as well, because you are very much a part of the game. I feel for every player and I get excited with every play.''

Kohler's success with UCF led to PA jobs with the Washington Nationals during spring training and the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. A business major with a mortgage and real estate business in Orlando, Kohler worked hard in his spare time to pursue his passion of announcing. He's worked his way into the play-by-play rotation for ESPN 3, and hopes to make a career out of announcing. He found out this week that he will be announcing the USF-UTEP game for ESPN 3 on Sept. 24.

As for getting approached by fans to make his familiar calls, Kohler calls it the ultimate compliment. He knows that his style of announcing has taken root and his calls are now an integral part of the tradition at UCF.

``Third down and first down - that's pretty neat when people recognize them,'' Kohler said with a chuckle. ``It's taken some time to condition fans, but in a way it's become a real tradition at UCF.''

  • ETC: The black and gold filling Bright House Networks Stadium was tinged with splashes of red Saturday night in remembrance of a fallen hero from the 9/11 attacks on New York with Boston College ties. A Boston College graduate, Welles Crowther was an equities trader on the South Tower's 104th floor on Sept. 11, 2001. Eyewitnesses reported that, after a plane crashed into the Sky Lobby of the World Trade Center, a man suddenly appeared ``out of nowhere'' to assist the evacuation. Crowther was stripped to his t-shirt and wearing a red bandanna to cover his nose and mouth, protection against the smoke and debris. He organized a rescue effort on the floors high above where the official rescue workers were able to reach. He called for fire extinguishers, he found and directed dazed and confused victims to the only stairwell that was open for escape, and he carried a woman down to the 61st floor, then returned to the 78th floor to rescue more people. Crowther, known as the ``Man in the Red Bandanna,'' helped to save approximately 18 people that day. Crowther's sisters -- Honor Fagan and Paige Crowther - were special guests of UCF at the game. ... O'Leary congratulated the Houston Cougars on last week's upset of UCLA, a much-needed out-of-conference victory for Conference USA. O'Leary has said for years that the only way C-USA is going to attain national attention is by winning more games against BCS foes. Said O'Leary: ``I thought Houston did a great job beating UCLA last weekend. Conference USA probably schedules more BCS teams than anybody. But it's one thing to just schedule them; you have to go out and win these games. I've said that in coaching meetings and if we want to get noticed (nationally) we have to go out and win these games. We have to hammer some wins - that's the key to helping the conference out.'' ... Senior wide out A.J. Guyton had five catches in the game, giving him 101 receptions for his career. Fellow wide out Quincy McDuffie also had five catches, ranking as his career high. ... Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, an Orlando resident, was in attendance at the game and pulling for the Knights.

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