UCF Knights Return To Action Saturday Night vs. East Carolina; Five Things To Watch

By  //  October 19, 2019

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kickoff at 7 p.m. on CBS SN

Here are some areas to watch when UCF (4-2 overall, 1-1 AAC) meets East Carolina (3-3 overall, 0-2 AAC) on homecoming weekend in front of a prime-time audience on CBSSN.

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (UCF Knights) – One more play.

UCF head coach Josh Heupel talks about it all the time—with the goal every week to make one more play than the opponent in order to go 1-0.

The Knights came up one play short on the road against both Pitt and Cincinnati, and so that logically became something of the external focus on UCF’s weekend off.

So, now, refreshed physically and mentally and with some extra time for both players and coaches to assess their current standing, the Knights go back to work.

Here are some areas to watch when UCF (4-2 overall, 1-1 AAC) meets East Carolina (3-3 overall, 0-2 AAC) on homecoming weekend in front of a prime-time audience on CBSSN:

1. Can anyone slow down Gabriel Davis?

UCF’s defeat at Cincinnati overshadowed Gabe Davis’ 13-catch effort–two more grabs than any other AAC player has made in a single game in 2019. Davis is the lone AAC player to catch three TD passes in a game (versus Connecticut). He’s one of two AAC players with three 100-yard efforts in receiving yards (Temple’s Branden Mack is the other). Davis has 124 more receiving yards than any other AAC player—and his 17.6-yard average per catch also leads conference players.

2. Home sweet home.

Playing at Spectrum Stadium of late has been a good thing for the Knights. Since the start of the 2017 season, UCF is perfect at home (18-0) and has averaged 51.5 points in those contests. Josh Heupel hopes that trend continues Saturday night in front of the home fans.

3. The skinny on East Carolina.

First-year head coach Mike Houston has seen his Pirates win two of their last three games, though they’ve dropped their first two conference assignments (Navy and Temple). All-purpose quarterback Holton Ahlers has thrown for 1,142 yards and run for another 212. Placekicker Jake Verity already has converted 11 field goals, tops in the AAC. In the running game, East Carolina and UCF are the two best teams in the league at protecting the football—with both teams losing only three fumbles to date.

4. This is a bizarre coincidence

. A check of the stat sheets and NCAA rankings this week shows that the East Carolina offense averages 20.7 points per game. Meanwhile, the UCF defense is allowing 20.7 points per game. How exactly will that translate Saturday night in Spectrum Stadium?

5. What motivation do these two teams have?

The Knights would like to think they can create a return to normalcy, at least on their home field where they haven’t lost since 2016. That’s after spending an open date answering questions about the ramifications of those two losses in their last three games—both of those defeats on the road and by a combined four points. The Pirates would like to prove they can take their show on the road. East Carolina lost 10 straight road games prior to a Sept. 28 victory at Old Dominion (24-21) in its most recent assignment away from home. Both these teams are coming off open weekends, so there has been plenty of time to prepare and make adjustments.

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