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UCF Knights Shutout in Military Games against Duke 30-13

Kevyn Bryant II

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On Saturday’s contest, UCF had difficulty establishing a firm foothold against the Duke Blue Devils. Duke was able to come away with a 30-13 win as a result.

Duke had 350 yards of total offense, but the Knights mustered only 326 yards. The total offensive numbers were misleading if looked at in isolation.

The importance of Duke going 7-14 on third downs was huge. UCF was solid by going 5-14, but not enough good production once in Duke territory spelled doom for UCF.

In addition, the Blue Devils won the time of possession battle, and the game flow more importantly, with a 34:28 to 25:32 advantage.

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The Knights had a player they couldn’t contain going against them.

Duke’s quarterback, Riley Leonard, was the star of the show. Despite the fact that he didn’t compile gaudy stats, Leonard’s grit and will were what mattered. If the Blue Devils needed him to scramble, he scrambled. If they required a crucial first down pass against tight coverage, he delivered.

As a sophomore, Leonard was everything that the team needed and more. He completed 19-28 for 173 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns. He also rushed for 63 yards and two scores.

UCF simply could not get the offensive side of the football going in the final minutes of the game. Leonard capped off the scoring with a 3-yard rushing touchdown with 2:29 remaining.

During the first half, quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and the Knights scored just seven points, and during the second half they scored just six more. Duke’s cover-2 plays were strengthened by several all-out-blitz pre-snap looks that often resulted in all sorts of calls, as the Duke defenders bailed at the snap of the football quite often.

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Keeping Plumlee upright was a problem for UCF’s offensive front, as well as a signal caller who often exited the pocket prematurely. Both issues plagued the team from the first quarter onward.

Elko gave a lot of credit to Duke’s defense and its staff, including head coach Mike Elko.

Plumlee completed the 2022 season with 14 carries for 21 yards rushing, no touchdowns, and one fumble lost. On the other hand, he was held to 21-34 for 182 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception in the last game. Those rushing totals were misleading because Duke’s defense sacked him six times. Sacks are counted against a player’s rushing stats in college football.

Despite UCF’s offense being the larger issue, there were some obvious moments where the Knights missed run fits and also missed tackles, those hurt.

UCF’s defensive squad was depleted due to Divaad Wilson turning pro and opting out of the match. Tre’mon Morris-Brash had a shoulder injury, Davonte Brown had moved to Miami, and Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste was amongst several missing Knights on defense.

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Having those players being out allowed some younger defensive players to play like the twins, Demari Henderson and Ja’Cari Henderson, at safety and cornerback, respectively. Freshman wide receiver Xavier Townsend caught seven passes for 25 yards on offense, as another transfer—Ryan O’Keefe—decided to play at Boston College.

It may have not been the game we all wanted to see as the end of the season for the Knights but I stand excited to watch UCF take on some competition in the Big 12 this upcoming 2023 season. Until next time UCF Football, good job on a winning season.

UCF Knights

UCF Knights Secure Centerpiece Big Man for 2024-25 Season

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify for 2024-25 season.

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Moustapha Thiam

UCF’s men’s basketball team has just secured the service of a big-time talent after blue chip big man Moustapha Thiam decided to reclassify, making him eligible to play for the Knights this coming college basketball season.

Thiam, the No.1 center in ESPN’s class of 2025, will anchor the Knights’ defense in their second season in the Big 12.

The 7-foot-2 Senegalese impressed scouts with his terrific play at the Adidas 3SSB circuit, serving as the focal point of Austin Rivers SE Elite in the tournament. In 28 minutes per game, he averaged 5.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 1.0 steals.

 

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With Thiam joining a roster of seniors and promising young players, Johnny Dawkins’ UCF Knights is expected to outperform their surprising 7-11 record in their Big 12 debut last season.

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UCF has retained the service of Jaylin Sellers and Darius Johnson, the two top-scorers from last season, and secured commitments from a slew of transferees such as JJ Taylor and Mikey Williams from Memphis, Keyshawn Hall from George Mason, and Deebo Coleman from Georgia Tech.

The program has successfully recruited Cameron Simpson, a local standout from Oak Ridge in Orlando, Florida.

Scouting Report Provides Things to Expect from Moustapha Thiam

Moustapha Thiam is an enticing prospect because of his large 7-foot-2 size, impressive length, and quick-twitch movement.

As a true center, he can open his hips, glide laterally, and recover from switches.

While he has to gain muscle, especially considering his slight foundation and narrow shoulders, he is an excellent rim protector who can influence ball movement and play from the weak side.

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Thiam possesses a nice touch for pick-and-pop jumpers with his feet set and good hands for passes at chest level or higher.

As he continues to develop in each game, he will improve his decision-making skills. His size and physical tools set him apart from his contemporaries.

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Building Relationships with the Community: Gus Malzahn Winning Strategy

Tramayne Wright

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Coach Lo discusses how Gus Malzahn identifies the key figures within the local community in Central Florida.

 

Gus Malzahn had a vision. He saw the potential in the local sports scene and knew he had to seize the opportunity. Coach Lo Wood vividly remembers the strategic move that set Malzahn apart: reaching out to key figures in the community.

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“The first thing I recognized about Gus was how he instantly reached out to the guys in the community,” Coach Wood shared. “He called me up and said, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ And it wasn’t just talk. Gus meant it. He wanted to build something real.”

Mazzone’s approach wasn’t just about forming superficial connections. He sought out genuine relationships with influential community members. Soon, other notable figures like AG Waseem and Ellis Danley were echoing the same sentiment. “Next thing you know, there’s AG Waseem saying the same thing, ‘I want to be in a relationship with you.’ Then he calls Ellis Danley with the same message. It was clear that Gus was building a network of trust and cooperation,” Coach Wood explained.

These were not random choices. The individuals Malzahn reached out to were deeply embedded in the community, and respected for their roles and commitment to the local youth. “Who are all these guys he’s been in a relationship with?” Coach Wood asked. “They’re the guys from the community, the ones who have the kids with them every day. They’re the mentors, the coaches, the father figures.”

Malzahn vision was to ensure that talented athletes didn’t feel the need to leave their hometown to find success. “I knew right then that a lot of athletes were going to stay home and be hometown heroes,” Coach Wood stated. “That’s the way to do it.”

He elaborated on the significance of this approach. “When you have someone like Gus, who invests in the community and builds these relationships, it creates a support system for the kids. They see that they can achieve their dreams right here, with the people who have always been there for them. It’s about pride, it’s about belonging, and it’s about giving back.”

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Coach Wood believes this method will have a lasting impact. “What Gus is doing isn’t just about winning games. It’s about building character, fostering community spirit, and creating a legacy. These kids are not just athletes; they’re future leaders, and Gus is showing them that they can lead from their own backyard.”

Malzahn efforts are not just about creating successful athletes; they are about nurturing future leaders who can lead from their own community. By building a strong foundation within the local sports scene, Gus Malzahn is making a lasting impact that will benefit the community for generations to come.

 

 

Coach Lo talks about The Importance of Building a Strong Community for the UCF Knights

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UCF Football Set for Black Friday Showdown with Utah Utes on Nov. 29

UCF Football announced the date of their Black Friday football game against the Utah Utes.

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UU vs. UCF

UCF Football announced the date of their Black Friday football game against the Utah Utes.

Fox Sports will broadcast the Knights’ final regular-season match on their 2024 college football schedule on November 29 from the FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

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The Knights had a solid run during their maiden season in their new league, finishing with 3-6 Big 12 record and 6-7 overall.

UCF won their first three games against Kent State, Boise State, and Villanova before pulling off a signature upset win over the No.15 ranked Oklahoma State, 45-3, last November 11.

Expectations are high for the Knights this coming season after securing the service of two-time Bowl Games MVP KJ Jefferson. The quarterback spent his first five years in Arkansas, setting most of the passing records for the Razorbacks.

UCF also bolstered other areas of their offense following the transfer of elite running back Peny Boone from Maryland and wide receiver Agiye Hall from Texas.

The Knights’ Black Friday game opponent, Utah, will debut in the Big 12 this season after capping their Pac 12 run with an 8-5 season (5-4 conference).

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UCF Football will kick off their second season in the Big 12 on August 29 against New Hampshire at home field.

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