No. 20 UCF Knights Square Off Against Navy On The Road Saturday, Look To Stay Unbeaten In 2017
By Ian MacDougall, UCF Knights // October 21, 2017
Kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
ABOVE VIDEO: Thursday #FrostBytes
ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UCF Knights.com) – The UCF football team is set to face one of its biggest challenges yet this season when the Knights take on Navy Saturday.
While the No. 20/20 Knights’ (5-0, 3-0) offense continues to lead the nation in scoring, the emphasis of this weekend’s matchup will be on the defense’s ability to handle the Midshipmen’s (5-1, 3-1) triple-option attack.
Navy leads the nation with 397.5 rushing yards per game, something that has caused fits for defensive coordinators this season. Heading into this weekend’s clash, the Knights have their own way of planning for the triple-option – head coach Scott Frost.
Frost was a two-year starting quarterback at Nebraska, leading the Cornhuskers to the 1997 National Championship. In his senior campaign, Frost rushed for more than 1,000 yards, as Nebraska led the country in rushing with 392.6 yards per game.
This week, Frost did something a little different for a head coach. He was under center for the scout team in order to help the defense acclimate to Navy’s offense, a scheme that is rarely used in the modern game.
“I love option football,” Frost said on Monday at his weekly press conference.
“I lived it. I feel like option quarterbacks are kind of like giant pandas. They only exist in zoos and military academies now.”
Navy has one of those proverbial pandas in quarterback Zach Abey. The junior has been unstoppable this season, ranking second in the nation with 169.3 rushing yards per game and scoring with two touchdowns per game.
Five turnovers plagued Navy in its 30-27 loss to Memphis last weekend, something that Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo was wary about when preparing for the ball-hawking Knights.
“When you watch tape of these guys, they’ll get your attention,” Niumatalolo said earlier this week at practice.
“On defense, they have three interior guys that are over 300 pounds. They’re all athletic. They’re good players. If we play like last weekend, we’re going to get killed.”
ABOVE VIDEO: UCF Coordinators Troy Walters and Erik Chinander take a look back at the win over ECU and preview Saturday’s upcoming game at Navy.
The UCF defense has been relentless this season, ranking 14th in the country in points allowed with 16.8 per game. Take out two rushes of more than 50 yards by FIU and ECU, and the defense has held teams to just 88.6 yards on the ground.
UCF defensive coordinator Erik Chinander knows that his defense will face a physical test in the triple option.
“Their quarterback is different than in years past,” he said.
“Normally, they have a fullback that would pound it for three or four yards and be happy, and then pitch it out on the perimeter. Their quarterback has done a lot of the heavy lifting this year. He’s got a lot of those three and four-yard gains that he’s broken for long runs. He can also throw the ball. We have to do a good job of not letting things behind us in the pass game, and then control the run.”
Adding to its run stopping power, the Black and Gold have tallied 12 takeaways, including four fumble recoveries. The Knights also have 10 sacks this season when quarterbacks drop back to throw. Containing mobile quarterback like Abey is a challenge the Knights are prepared for.
Another wrinkle UCF will have to ready for is Navy’s Homecoming, but Frost has the Knights prepared for the task at hand.
“We’ve talked to them about not being distracted by helicopters flying overhead or a bunch of people in service uniforms,” Frost added.
“I think it’s going to be neat to see all of those things related to Homecoming, but we have a job to do. We can’t pay too much attention to that. We can talk about it afterwards, but we need to be laser-focused and dialed in at kickoff.”
The Knights will be ready for the challenge on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., when UCF and Navy kick off on CBS Sports Network.
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