John Denton's Knights Insider: Five Things We Learned

Sept. 12, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCFAthletics.com's Knights Insider John Denton breaks down the five things that we learned from UCF's 30-3 thumping of Boston College on Saturday night at Bright House Networks Stadium.

1. It was a magical night for UCF. Saturday night proved to be a perfect storm of sorts of UCF rolled on the field, Bright House Networks Stadium will filled up with fans making a lot of noise and the football program and university looked great for the national television stage. Technically, it was the fourth-largest crowd in the history of the five-year-old on-campus stadium, but as coach George O'Leary adeptly pointed out, this was the largest UCF crowd ever at BHSN because it was almost solely Knights fans. The crowd was loud, into the game from the start and seemed to fully enjoy the thorough thumping the Knights put on a Boston College team that looked overwhelmed. I'll make the case that it's the biggest home win in school history considering what could be at stake in terms of conference realignment (beating an ACC team is a very good thing), the size of the crowd and the fact that UCF was playing on national TV. Just a special night that Knights fans won't soon forget.

2. The success at UCF is contagious right now. Clearly, the football team isn't the only one in the midst of a special season right now.

Still riding the momentum of last season's run to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, UCF's men's soccer team has climbed to No. 12 in the country by winning five straight games. They have matched the 1997 and 2001 UCF squads for the best start to a season in Division I history.

The women's soccer team most recently beat Penn State and Washington State and went 3-0-1 during a roadtrip to start the season 4-1-1. Said head coach Amanda Cromwell, whose team scored two goals on a Penn State team that had yielded just one goal in the past five games: ``We have proven ourselves on the road against some of the top teams in the country.''

UCF's volleyball team saw its seven-game winning streak come to an end Sunday night with a loss to USF, but the Knights are still riding high following their historic defeat of No. 3 USC two weeks ago. The weekend was still a huge success for the team as it went 3-1 and won 22 consecutive sets at one point.

UCF's golf team, a NCAA tourney participant last season, won the team title at the Northern Intercollegiate. Three Knights posted top-10 finishes, led by co-medalist Brad Schneider. UCF, ranked 25th nationally, won the tourney in a romp, finishing 10 shots ahead of Tulsa.

3. UCF's defense is tops in the nation. UCF awoke Sunday morning first in the nation in points allowed per game (1.5 ppg.) and second in total defense (130 ypg.). Their rushing defense ranks 12th in the nation (53 ypg.) and fourth in pass efficiency defense (64.11).

Not only have the Knights not given up a touchdown all season, they have a stretch of 12 consecutive quarters now without giving up a TD. That includes the Liberty Bowl win against Georgia, meaning two BCS-affiliated schools (Georgia and Boston College) have failed to find the end zone against the Knights. The last time a team scored a touchdown against the Knights was when SMU added a meaningless TD with 9:15 left in the C-USA title game. Dating back to last season, UCF has held opponents to 17 points or fewer in the last six games.

The Knights are smothering teams because they are winning at the line of scrimmage and they are pressuring quarterbacks without having to blitz. Victor Gray has turned into a force at defensive tackle, while Darius Nall has replaced Bruce Miller and has been his usual play-making self at end. Josh Robinson is playing like an All-American at cornerback and Leilon Willingham and Jonathan Davis have cleared up question marks at linebacker with some solid play.

4. Jeff Godfrey just has a knack for getting first downs and making key plays. What Godfrey might lack in size or off-the-charts arm strength he makes up for it in awareness, football smarts and his knack for making big plays. Maybe his most overlooked asset is his ability to pick up first downs and keep drives alive for the Knights offense. Godfrey is always aware of down and distance and has shown the ability to find the first down markers.

And when the Knights had to have it in the second half Saturday night, Godfrey delivered in a big way. His strike to J.J. Worton (who catches absolutely everything by the way) was a thing of beauty. And Godfrey blew teammates and coaches away when he trucked Boston College All-American linebacker Luke Kuechly at the goal line. For the long-term health of the program, it would be better for Godfrey to simply slide in that situation, but again it was amazing to see him to know exactly the situation and what was needed for the game-clinching touchdown.

5. A `homecoming game' against surprising FIU awaits. Just minutes after bashing Boston College, many of UCF's players had already shifted their focus to the next task at hand which is a game at Florida International. The game will serve as a major homecoming to the 25 players hailing from Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Several players, such as Nick Pieschel, Kemal Ishmael, Robinson and Godfrey, will be face players that they were teammates with in high school. Pieschel, UCF's standout right tackle, used to protect FIU quarterback Wes Carroll when they played at St. Thomas Aquinas and now they will be foes on Saturday.

With UCF coming off the emotional home win against Boston College and a nationally televised showdown at BYU looming in two weeks, normally you'd worry about there being a letdown this week. The fact that so many UCF players will be playing in front of friends and family and against former prep teammates that should take care of any concerns over a lull in motivation. And considering how focused and determined this UCF team has been so far, anything other than a spectacular effort would be very much out of character for this team right now.

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