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Monday, September 25, 2023


Central Florida’s balanced offensive attack befuddles UH defense

After delivering two solid performances against SMU and Memphis, the Cougar defense was derailed in its attempt to contain UCF’s offensive onslaught.

UCF quarterback Jeff Godfrey was hard to get a hold of for the UH defense, shredding it for 105 rushing yards. | Jairo Razo/The Daily Cougar

The Cougars surrendered 522 yards in the 40-33 loss to the Knights on Friday. Head coach Kevin Sumlin said that the defense played in spurts that allowed the Knights to jump out to an early 23-10 lead before halftime.

“We would stop them on first and second down, then on third down Godfrey would scramble and get out of it,” Sumlin said.

“We need to get better. It’s frustration for everybody when you keep the quarterback contained until the second-and-long or third-and-long situation. He’s a guy that can move around. What has to be addressed is consistency. We need to be aggressive with our defense.”

The defense surrendered 228 yards on the ground. UCF’s running game consisted of a trio of rushers: junior running back Ronnie Weaver, sophomore Latavius Murray and freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey.

Weaver and Murray rushed for a total of 183 yards and one touchdown, while Godfrey gained 105 yards and a score.

Godfrey dismantled the Cougar defense through the air, completing 15 of 19 for 294 yards and airing out two touchdowns.

After the Cougars stopped UCF on their opening drive, they forced a fumble on the ensuing possession at the 2-yard line that was recovered by Marcus McGraw.

The Cougars posted 11 tackles for a loss and one sack. Leading the Cougar defense was linebacker Sammy Brown who made 11 tackles, two for a loss. Fellow linebacker McGraw followed with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery.

McGraw said that he wasn’t pleased with the performance of the defense attempting to contain UCF’s freshman quarterback.

“To be a freshman, I think he is a really high-caliber quarterback,” McGraw said. “Especially when you play the way he did, I give him all the props.”

The Cougars went into halftime with the score 23-10, but responded in the third quarter. McGraw said that the defense has to be prepared to give maximum effort each quarter.

“Every time you go out on the field you have to be ready to play,” McGraw said. “You have to be ready to do your job and not slack off — you have to keep your head in the game and contain them. I think we did good a job keeping it close.”

Senior cornerback Jamal Robinson said that the defense faced difficulty when trying to contain Godfrey’s respective rushing and passing abilities.

“We got them to third-and-long a bunch of times, but he would go for a quarterback sneak,” Robinson said. “He’s a good player. It was a hard-fought game. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming into this. We came into the second half and we tried to sustain it, but we couldn’t. They’re a good team and we weren’t able to finish the game.”

On special teams, kicker Matt Hogan went two of three on field goal attempts, making a 30-yard and 34-yard attempt, but missing on a 41-yard attempt in the second quarter. He also missed an extra point attempt after the Cougars’ final touchdown.

Tight end Wesley Scourten blocked an extra point attempt — recording the seventh block of his career.

Kick returner Tyron Carrier received six returns for 130 yards. His longest return was 37 yards.

Nose tackle Matangi Tonga returned to the lineup after suffering a knee injury. He had four tackles, two of which were for a loss and recorded a sack.

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