John Denton's Knights Insider: Five Things We Learned

Sept. 5, 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 62-0 throttling of Charleston Southern Saturday night at Bright House Networks Stadium.

1. The Knights were sharp, focused and ready to play. For anyone who thought that UCF might rest on last season's laurels or get caught looking ahead to this Saturday's showdown against Boston College, they got a resounding answer in the form of UCF's dominating performance on both sides of the ball. Granted, the level of competition was of the FCS, but UCF didn't allow that to detract from their focus. The Knights didn't turn the ball over and committed just four penalties all night. UCF jumped to a 35-0 lead and played all of the 65 players who were available. The offense was dominant on the ground and the defense was absolutely smothering.

2. UCF's running game with Ronnie Weaver, Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey has the potential to be the best in school history. That's saying something considering that Kevin Smith had one of the finest seasons in college football history in 2007. But this Knights team has three running backs that could start on just about any team in the country. Rotating the three the way that head coach George O'Leary and offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe did Saturday night ensures that the Knights will always have fresh legs on the field to batter opposing defenses. Weaver, a senior, started and ran for 107 yards (13.4 yards a carry) and a TD. Murray, the star late last season, had 36 yards (6.0 yards a carry) and two TDs. And Harvey, back after missing all of last season with a knee injury, ran for 63 yards (4.4 yards a carry). Throw in quarterback Jeff Godfrey's 46 yards rushing (6.6 yards a carry) and three touchdowns and Kerlon Williams' 25 yards and two TDs and it's no coincidence that it took this team one game to set a new school record for rushing touchdowns (eight) in a game.

3. Despite the graduation of Bruce Miller, Derrick Hallman and others, UCF's defense is still loaded with playmakers. This was a hard game to truly judge because UCF's starters were on the field only a half, but the defense swarmed and looked solid in every phase. O'Leary said it was some of the best tackling he's seen in an opener in years in large part because the Knights had several players running to the football. Converted tailback Jonathan Davis continued to impress as a playmaker at linebacker, dropping quarterback Malcolm Dixon for a sack and also registering four tackles. UCF's defensive line looked stout and helped hold Charleston Southern to negative rushing yards for more than half of the game. And star cornerback Josh Robinson atoned for his two bobbled punt returns - one wasn't his fault because the ball had nicked off Quincy McDuffie's leg - with a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown.

4. We must remember that Godfrey is still just a sophomore. That's often easy to forget considering the poise and maturity that Godfrey often played with last year while leading UCF to its greatest season in school history as a true freshman. But he's still developing as a quarterback and this push for him to remain in the pocket longer is still a work in progress. He hit on six of 10 passes for 100 yards, including a 45-yarder to tight end Adam Nissley that was a thing of beauty. But Godfrey was lucky that he didn't have two errant passes picked off on Saturday night. Early in the game, Godfrey tried to force a pass into traffic only to have it hit a Charleston Southern linebacker in the chest. The ball was dropped, saving Godfrey an interception. Later, when the protection broke down and he was hit, Godfrey threw late on a post pattern. His pass appeared to be intercepted, but it was later overturned by a replay review when the ball touched the ground. Expect Godfrey to learn from those mistakes and be sharper by next week. Remember, O'Leary said one thing that makes Godfrey truly special is that he never seems to make the same mistake twice.

5. The crowd at Bright House Networks Stadium was noisy and UKNIGHTED. Sure, there were some empty seats for the opener and that's somewhat disappointing considering the historic 2010 season that the Knights were coming off and the exciting prospects for this season. But the 39,752 fans that were in the stadium were in their seats early and into the game from the start. In one of the coolest moments of the night, O'Leary and the all of the players along the sideline joined the crowd in forming the UKNIGHT salute just prior to the kickoff. The crowd was loud and plenty rowdy, causing the press box to sway when fans jumped up and down to ``Zombie Nation'' following each and every touchdown. Here's to hoping that Bright House will be sold out and be even louder this Saturday night when Boston College comes to town for the premier home game of the season.

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