A Knight in King Crimson and Grey’s Court – Non-Sensical Ramblings on the University of Central Florida Knights v. Ohio State Buckeyes
September 8, 2012
In what many University of Central Florida football fans are calling the most important game in the history of the Knights football program, UCF takes to the road for a second-straight week – and in the state of Ohio, nevertheless – to face an Ohio State University squad headed by former University of Florida head coach, Urban Meyer.
An enticing match up featuring the potent offensive firepower of the Buckeyes and an old-school, dingy defensive approach to the game as provided by UCF head coach George O’Leary, Jockspin.com’s Jason Roberts brings his own individual insights to the first half of the game, while also closing with predictions as to how the remainder of the contest might play out.
Let’s get right to it …
Going to be interesting to see how UCF does running the ball today given starting tailback Latavious Murray is out this week with injury. Storm Johnson, a highly-touted transfer from the University of Miami will start in his place. Shouldn’t be too great – if any – drop in production; Johnson can scoot and is excellent out in the flat as a converted receiver, and the Knights have plenty of depth in their backfield.
Looks like Johnson will get plenty of work early on as a short-range passing target for sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles, as Bortles looks Johnson’s way twice on UCF’s opening offensive possession, dumping ball off quickly in order to establish a rhythm under center and, at the same time, counter the defensive pressure of Ohio State.
Knights should have had a first down on the opening drive, but a false start penalty negates that possibility.
Ohio State now with the ball – interesting, the Buckeyes ran close to 90 plays last week, far greater than any number OSU posted last year, when it averaged only 69 plays a game.
OSU looking for a better start offensively against the Knights than was seen last week against Miami (Ohio); in that game, Urban Meyer’s squad ended up punting four times in their first four possessions.
Braxton Miller looks extremely comfortable running this up-tempo offense, though some miscommunication impeding his overall production – and, of course, right as I type that, he breaks through the middle of the offensive line, bursts into the middle of the field and heads 37 yards for a touchdown.
Not at all a fan of Meyer, but loving that he has established a new tradition in Columbus in which the student section leads the team in base calisthenics. Have to admit, though – that student section has a way to go before it can say it’s leading the players and not the other way around.
UCF’s Quincy McDuffie looks as if he made a terrible decision bringing the ball out on the ensuing kickoff, but shows incredible agility, dancing along the far sideline before being taken down near the Knights’ 35-yard line.
UCF already with two delay of game penalties – that’s a striking contrast to last week, when the Knights tallied just two total penalties in their win over Akron.
Very quick three-and-out for UCF; defense will need to hold Miller and the rest of the Ohio State offense on this drive if it hopes to keep the game from getting out of hand early.
Carlos Hyde held in check on first down, but Miller breaks right for 13 more yards on second down; part of the game plan, apparently, as Ohio State’s coaching staff has said ideally their quarterback will carry 15 to 17 times a contest.
Victor Gray of Central Florida part of a double dose of defensive pressure that yields the first sack of Miller for the day; insult to injury, Ohio State also called for holding.
1st and 20 now for the Buckeyes, five wide, short dump off pass – Miller now 3-of-3 passing for 21 yards.
Freshman running back Brionte Dunn on the field, absolutely blasts his way inbetween the tackles, heads immediately upfield, gain of 13 yards and sets up 3rd and short.
Third down, Miller tries to edge his way to the marker, but knocked short; surprisingly, Meyer decides to try almost identical play on fourth down, but Knights’ Jonathan Davis (he’s only 5-9!) is having none of that. Big play on the part of UCF’s defense and leaves the offense operating just to the Ohio State side of the 50-yard line.
Johnson takes the carry on first down and absolutely barrels his way forward for a first down; refused to go down, think that took Ohio State off-guard.
Remember the Class of 2010? Johnson was ranked No. 3 in the nation behind Michael Dyer and Marcus Lattimore coming out of high school …
Bortles tosses a nice pass on a crossing route across the middle, leaves very makeable 3rd and 1.
An ugly imitation of an option-read by Bortles, but he works his way forward on third down, moves the markers. UCF is now very close to the red zone.
A little trickeration here, with Bortles tossing left to former quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who then steps back, throws back across field, has a receiver, but Ohio State defender is called for pass interference near the goal line.
The Knights’ offensive line is giving Bortles plenty of time to pass so far.
Johnson goes right on a toss on first down but slips, that’s a loss and now third and goal. Incomplete pass on third down, O’Leary going to turn to Shawn Moffitt to try his first field goal of 2012 season.
28-yard attempt is good, UCF now on the board.
Studio break – and Penn State’s Matt McGloin throws a nice pass for a touchdown to put the Nittany Lions up over Virginia.
Definitely hard to cheer for the school as a whole, but very easy to support all the players affected by this summer’s controversy in State College.
Also, off to Manhattan where Kansas State appears to be making a mockery of the Miami Hurricanes once again. Just hard to fathom an option-heavy offense like that finding as much success as it does against the athleticism of an Al Golden coached defense.
Back to the game, now second quarter. OSU dinking the ball down field, earning a first down on the legs of Miller once again. Hyde, meanwhile, isn’t getting anywhere – well, check that, he bursts through the middle for six yards to move the chains into UCF territory, and once again gains decent yardage two plays later.
On first down, near the 30-yard line, Corey Brown takes a receiver sweep off to his right and jukes his way to the 15-yard line; reminiscent of Percy Harvin much, Urban?
Miller gets inside the 10-yard line on ensuing play, but UCF’s Kemal Ishmael breaks up a running play on second down.
3rd and five, Miller having trouble shifting the pay at the line of scrimmage; has to use a timeout, Meyer doesn’t seem to troubled by the whole scenario, however
Third down again – and compliments to UCF’s defense! – strong rush off the left side gets Miller scrambling, and a pass to the end zone finds the intended receiver absolutely leveled just as the ball was getting to him. UCF holds Ohio State to three points; score now 10-7.
UCF back with the ball and, WOW, Johnson appears determined to take over this drive; two back-to-back touches and suddenly the Knights have a 1st and Goal situation inside the OSU’s 10-yard line! Brynn Harvey comes in for Johnson after a 48-yard scramble along the near sideline.
Bortles gets times to throw on second down and hits Josh Reese, who takes it to the 3-yard line; flag on the play goes against OSU defense, so it’s a sound gain. Fantastic block on the left side by Harvey on that play.
Harvey takes a handoff on second down, not much room; leaves 3rd and goal.
Stack the line on third down, I-formation, everyone thinking run here; Bortles, however, goes play action, short lob to the right and UCF nets a touchdown on a catch by Justin Tukes.
Game is tied with 6:54 in the second quarter.
UCF defense is fired up, forcing a 3rd-and-long on ensuing possession for Ohio State. Questionable call by officials, claiming the Knights’ Davis deserved a personal foul for a late hit on Miller about a yard short of the first down marker.
Two plays later, UCF more than makes up for the mistake by Davis, forcing a fumble and recovering the ball in good field position.
Interesting stat – after compiling 15 takeaways all last season, UCF has already notched four in its first two games of 2012.
Second play for UCF after the turnover, Bortles throws the ball, but has it tipped, and, just as quickly as the Knights’ take possession of the ball, they give it away.
News from the Ohio State sideline – Hyde has his right knee wrapped in ice, towel over his head. That can’t be good.
Smith really looking good as a multi-purpose offensive threat for the Buckeyes – add a quick 10-yard catch and run to his first half resume.
Miller getting beat up just prior to half time here, punished by two UCF defenders on first down, then hit hard on an incomplete pass on second. Miller scoots up the middle and off to the right for an impressive 24-yard gain on the ground on third, though, and leaves 1st and Goal with 21 seconds remaining.
Miller already over 100-yards rushing on the day – and adds his second-rushing touchdown on the next play. Buckeyes now up 17-10.
A squib kick on the kickoff, and UCF simply runs out the clock, down only seven points with two quarters to play.
Reactions / Predictions:
Hats off to UCF for the way they’ve managed playing in front of what has to be the largest crowd its football program has ever seen. A few early game jitters quickly disappeared, and both Bortles and Johnson seem to be playing with more confidence with each offensive possession. Particular striking is the big-play ability of Johnson, who isn’t intimidated one bit by Ohio State’s defenders; a near-perfect blend of size and speed, not to mention physicality. Wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see the replacement for Murray finish well over 100 yards on the day; matching that with 75 to 100 yards in receptions doesn’t seem that far-fetched either.
Also, you have to respect the Knights’ defense. OSU’s Miller is having his way carrying the ball, particularly when shooting straight up the middle of the field, but he really is the only offensive weapon the Buckeyes have fielded in this first half. There’s a very clear trade off, however, as UCF’s defense is taking advantage of being able to take open shots at Ohio State’s quarterback. Be interesting to see how Miller holds up heading into the late third / early fourth quarter.
Love the play of Jonathan Gray and Kemal Ishamel on the defensive side of the ball for the Knights …
As for Ohio State – certainly appears that Miller is Mr. Do Everything for the Buckeyes so far, especially running with the ball. Still, he’s deadly accurate when throwing as well, and eventually, he’ll be able to lure UCF’s secondary closer to the line of scrimmage in order to try to stop OSU’s ground attack – expect Miller hits some longer passes in the second half as a result.
The apparent loss of Carlos Hyde certainly is going to hurt Ohio State’s overall effectives running the ball, though this could provide the opportunity for a coming out of sorts for Dunn, all said and done …
UCF’s defense is doing its best against Ohio State’s offense and has made headway; still, Miller is so athletic, it’s hard to imagine that the Knights will be able to account for all of OSU’s weapons on offense AND Miller himself.
Plus, aside from Johnson, nothing thrown as the Buckeyes’ defense is so far sticking; less Bortles suddenly gets a hot hand, it’s hard to believe UCF will be able to keep up with Ohio State, especially if Meyer’s decides to tone down the speed of the game and, instead, aim for control of the clock.