John Denton's Knights Insider: Guyton Eager to Defend C-USA Title

Oct. 6, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - As UCF made the arduous, four-hour journey back from the mountains of Utah to Florida two weeks ago, A.J. Guyton never wanted to close his eyes even though the clock pushed past 5 a.m.

When he did attempt to get some shut-eye, all the fifth-year senior wide receiver saw were haunting flashbacks of the two long pass plays that could have turned a 24-17 loss into a joyous victory for the Knights.

Guyton enjoyed a career game against BYU, hauling in nine passes for 163 yards. But he was unable to enjoy the finest game of his career at UCF because of the loss and his inability to score on two long catches. Guyton got behind the defense for a 54-yard reception in the third quarter, but was tracked down from behind. And late in the game with UCF trying for a last-minute effort to knot the game at 24-all, Guyton was dropped following a 58-yard catch. Two plays after Guyton's near home run, quarterback Jeff Godfrey was intercepted and UCF (2-2) had to swallow a 24-17 defeat.

No one took the loss harder than Guyton, who has spent much of the past two weeks wondering what he could have done differently to turn two long receptions into scoring plays. The memories of those plays were especially tough to deal with on the flight back from Utah to Florida.

``I didn't even sleep on that plane ride back. On the four-hour ride I was up at least three hours of it and just kept going over it again and again,'' Guyton said, shaking his head. ``I was supposed to have gotten in the end zone on those plays. On the first one, I had gotten hit on the hip the play before and couldn't really accelerate, but I'm not the type to use excuses. But I should have gotten in the end zone and it probably would have been a difference in the game.''

Guyton hopes that UCF can take the frustration brewing following consecutive losses to FIU and BYU into Saturday night's home game and unleash it against Conference USA rival Marshall (2-3). The Knights have beaten the Herd six consecutive years, including a 21-20 decision in 2009 at Bright House Networks Stadium. Guyton was on the field when Rocky Ross caught the game-winning touchdown for UCF in that game, and he's hopeful that the Knights can keep alive their winning streak against Marshall.

``We're expecting them to come out and give us their best shot and we're going to give them our best shot also. We're not holding anything back,'' Guyton said. ``We've beaten them six years in a row, their seniors have never beaten us and I've never lost to Marshall since I've been here. We just have to get back to playing our game, playing UCF football and playing smash-mouth football.''

But as UCF proved against BYU, it can also mix in the pass with the run. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Godfrey has worked hard on staying in the pocket more this season in an attempt to hit more long passes down the field. And he's grown more comfortable with primary receivers Quincy McDuffie (18 catches, 175 yards) and Guyton (16 catches, 234 yards) through four games.

UCF coach George O'Leary said this week he wants to see promising young receivers J.J. Worton (six catches, 108 yards), Josh Resse (four catches, 97 yards) and Dontravius Floyd (four catches, 52 yards) see more time at wide receiver to speed up their growth process.

Quite possibly no one is more eager to get back on the field Saturday night than Guyton, who admittedly struggled during last week's open date following the BYU loss. He had to slow down on both his 54 and 58-yard catches, allowing the opposing safety to pick up momentum on bringing him down even though he appeared to be in the clear. On the 58-yarder in the final minutes, UCF tight end Adam Nissley nearly got the block on BYU safety Daniel Sorensen that would have freed up Guyton for the score, but had to pull up because of a fear of a block-in-the-back penalty.

Remembered Guyton: ``I saw Adam scrape across him a little bit, but he said he didn't want to get a penalty and bring back a big play.''

Guyton, a Homestead native, recently eclipsed the 100-catch plateau for his career and is one pace to set career highs in almost every category this season. He takes great pride in how he salvaged his career following a devastating knee injury in 2008.

Because he is a fifth-year senior and was around in 2007, Guyton has a chance this season to win a third Conference USA title. That, he said, would be a fitting end to his career and would stamp his legacy on the program forever.

``That would put our names in the books for this program. To leave here possibly with three conference championship rings would be so great,'' he said. ``I never won a state championship in high school, so when I finally won a conference championship here it was such a blessing for me. Now, to possibly get three, that would be amazing.''

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