UCF Football Opponent Preview - SMU

July 17, 2012

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By Brandon Naidus

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - For the first time since their match-up in the 2010 Conference USA Championship Game, the Knights will host SMU, and the Nov. 3 matchup is the Homecoming game for UCF. In last year's game in Dallas, a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes was not good enough, as the Knights lost, 38-17. Quarterbacks Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles combined for 349 yards and two touchdowns in the air.

After finishing 7-5 (5-3) in the regular season, head coach June Jones led his squad to a 28-6 win over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Senior quarterback J.J. McDermott tossed for 239 yards and one touchdown and added a one-yard touchdown scamper in the victory.

Jones enters his fifth season at the helm for SMU. He brought in his pass-heavy offense from nine seasons as the head coach of Hawaii. In 2007, SMU ranked 52nd in passing offense. Since Jones took over in 2008, the Mustangs have had a top-25 passing offense each season. The squad had two receivers eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley. Despite being in a pass-heavy offense, senior tailback Zach Line rushed for over 1,000 yards and 10-plus touchdowns for the second-consecutive season. His 17 touchdowns in 2011 were 11th in the nation.

Offensive Player to Watch
The aforementioned Line rushed for 83 yards and one touchdown in last season's meeting with the Knights. The bruising 6-foot 1 230-pound running back has received First Team All-C-USA honors the past two seasons. The only other time Line has faced the Knights was the C-USA Championship Game in 2010 and he rushed for 95 yards.

Defensive Player to Watch
Coming off of a season in which he won All C-USA Second Team honors, senior linebacker Taylor Reed has been a force for the Mustangs. Reed won All C-USA Freshmen Team honors in 2009 and followed it with All C-USA Honorable Mention accolades. In last year's meeting against the Knights, Reed tallied eight tackles, including a sack. Reed wreaked havoc on the Knights in the 2010 C-USA Championship Game. He recorded 11 tackles, including two sacks and one tackle for a loss.

Knight vs. Mustang Matchup to Watch
Latavius Murray torched the Mustangs in the 2010 C-USA Championship game. His 115 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns helped the Knights win the game and earned him MVP honors. After the Knights got in a hole in last season's tussle, Murray helped the Black and Gold in the receiving game. He had five receptions for 52 yards. The Mustangs ranked second in the conference in rushing defense last season. In eight conference games, SMU allowed a stingy 2.9 yards per carry and was one of two teams to allow less than 100 yards rushing per game. The battle of Murray against the Mustangs' strong rush defense should be an interesting match-up.