In what was an uphill battle for UCF (1-1) from the time the ball was kicked off, the Knights were soundly defeated by No. 5 Michigan 51-14 Saturday afternoon.
UCF was brimming with positivity following a first win in almost 21 months, and after a 37-point loss, the team still has no reason to hang its head, but was definitely outclassed by a team with national championship aspirations.
“Jim Harbaugh’s teams are physical and that’s what he’s known for,” UCF head coach Scott Frost said. “We came in here and got six yards per carry and they ran for 2.9. That tells me that our guys are fighting and coming out swinging and we can be excited about that but we also need to execute in other phases as well.”
Frost harps on the positives from the game that included 312 rushing yards for the Knights on the day, over double of Michigan’s output of 147 yards. One play in particular was one of the only highlights for the Knights, but it was certainly a big one.
True freshman running back Adrian Killins might as well have been in flight during his 87-yard, second quarter sprint toward the end zone.
“We ran that play a lot in practice and once I get past the secondary I know I can’t be touched and I can’t be caught,” Killins said
The only problem was that UCF was down 31-0 at the time of the play, the game essentially being over before “UCFast” could start its engine.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight already had three passing touchdowns at the time of Killins’ scamper, two to All-American tight end Jake Butt and another to Amara Darboh.
"We need to fix some things in pass defense and find a way to do things on offense to open things up,” Frost said.
The pass defense excelled in week one against South Carolina State, but the Bulldogs aren’t Michigan. Shaquill Griffin caught an interception a week ago, but today was targeted all day in one-on-one coverage and was beat several times.
UCF’s offensive line was a big question mark coming into the season, and the running game on both sides of the ball was a productive sign to point to, but as far as throwing the football and defending the pass, UCF has a lot of work to do.
Quarterbacks Justin Holman and Nick Patti combined to throw for just 56 yards and both signal callers were 3-for-11.
Last season’s American Conference Rookie of the Year Tre’Quan Smith didn’t have a reception the entire afternoon and Adrian Killins had just one carry, his 87-yard touchdown.
“AK caught a corner and we had schemed that up and thought it would be a good wrinkle out of that set. AK’s speed took over and we’re looking forward to a lot more plays from those guys.” Frost said.
Starting quarterback Justin Holman left the game in the second quarter after a 35-yard run and backup Nick Patti took over for the remainder of the game. There’s no new information yet regarding his injury.
UCF will play Maryland in its next game at home, hosting a Big Ten opponent that is a better barometer of how good this team really is.
“There was no lull. We outhit them in the first half and I think we outhit them in the second half,” Frost said. “There was no quit in the guys and one of the big things for them last year as opposed to now is that things crumbled when things went wrong and now I want us to start coming together.”