July 26, 2012
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By Joey Nelson
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF will travel to Tulsa, Okla., on Nov. 17 to face the Golden Hurricane in a key Conference USA matchup, one that could potentially end up being a preview of the conference championship game if both programs can claim a division crown.
The Knights have faced the Golden Hurricane in two title games since both teams joined C-USA in 2005. Tulsa claimed a 44-27 victory in 2005, but running back Kevin Smith and the Knights would get their revenge, 44-25, in the 2007 championship game. Tulsa topped the Knights, 24-17, in last year's matchup, and would go on to finish 8-5 for the season. The Golden Hurricane hold the series lead, 3-2.
Offensive Player to Watch
Quarterback G.J. Kinne threw for 3,090 yards and 28 touchdowns while also rushing for 405 yards and four touchdowns last season. However, Tulsa lost Kinne to graduation and hopes Nebraska transfer Cody Green can achieve similar results to Kinne's productivity and success. Green towers at 6-foot-4 and 247 lbs., and brings to the field an impressive mix of athleticism and power. The spring presented a tight race at the quarterback position, with sophomore Kalen Henderson giving Green quite a run for his money. However, Green edged Henderson and should line up under center for the Golden Hurricane this fall. Look for the junior quarterback to play with some sense of poise under second-year head coach Bill Blankenship's spread offense. Green's mounted pressure will be relieved by his committee of tailbacks throughout the season, which include juniors Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas who combined for 1,727 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Defensive Player to Watch
As Tulsa' most NFL-ready guy, senior safety Dexter McCoil has been mistaken as a linebacker but never as a poor defender. At 6-foot-4, 222 lbs., McCoil is an athletic specimen and continues to be a passionate, intelligent leader for this Golden Hurricane football team. As a junior, McCoil racked up 84 stops and picked off six passes, bringing his total to 13 for the career. Joining UCF's senior safety Kemal Ishmael, McCoil was listed on the first team defense for this year's C-USA Football Coaches Preseason Awards.
Knight vs. Golden Hurricane Matchup To Look Out For
With a new quarterback at the helm for the Golden Hurricane, look for defensive coordinator Jim Fleming to bring the pressure and try to disrupt any sort of consistency for Green. Whether it comes from the defensive line, linebacking corps or defensive backfield, UCF needs to give Green fits and force turnovers. Watch for safeties Ishmael and sophomore standout Clayton Geathers to get in plenty of the action, whether it takes place in the air or on the ground. If the Knights can push Green out of the pocket, force a few turnovers and create some coverage sacks, it could be a big win for head coach George O'Leary and his Knights.