Know Your Foe: Central Florida Golden Knights

J. Meric

We'll find out what both teams are made of on Saturday

Last Season: (10-4, 7-2)

Central Florida nearly went out with a bang by winning its third Conference-USA title since 2007 before exiting for the American Athletic Conference (formerly Big East) in 2013. The Golden Knights started out 2-2 in non-conference play, with tight losses coming against Ohio State and Missouri. The team really started to roll once it began C-USA play, reeling off six consecutive victories before succumbing to Tulsa, 23-21. Central Florida would meet Tulsa again for the C-USA Championship, but again suffered a narrow loss in overtime. A 9-4 record earned the Golden Knights a spot in the Beef O' Bradys, where they clobbered the Ball State Cardinals, 38-17 for a hard-fought 10-win season.

Quarterback Blake Bortles had an outstanding 2012 campaign, finishing with 3,059 yards on 251-399 passing, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Senior running back Latavius Murray racked up 1,106 yards on the ground while scoring 19 touchdowns.

Offense

Penn State's young corners will receive their biggest test of the season thus far on Saturday. Bortles can really sling the ball, and has been spectacular in the first two week (although not against the best competition). The junior quarterback has thrown for 528 yards , four touchdowns and zero interceptions while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He has two playmakers to get the ball to in Rannell Hall and Breshad Perriman, who average 25.9 and 31.3 yards per reception, respectively, in the young season. J.J. Warton is also one to keep an eye on, scoring twice already on only five receptions. Bortles spreads the ball out enough to keep defenses on their toes. Central Florida has only mustered 322 yards on the ground, which isn't terribly impressive considering the opponents in the first two weeks.

Defense

The only score Central Florida allowed all season was an Akron Zips touchdown with 42 seconds on the clock in a game the Golden Knights had securely in place. Now before you go into full-blown panic mode, remember that their first two contests have been Akron and Florida International. The Golden Knights have put up tremendous numbers with a vanilla gameplan, but both should change this week. Christian Hackenberg is still a true freshman who has made true freshman mistakes, and Central Florida will throw everything they can at him. The Golden Knights excelled at getting at the quarterback in 2012, but lost their top three pass rushers to graduation. CFU's run defense struggled mightily at times, so don't be surprised to see Penn State try to impose its will with its new three-headed running back by committee.

Special Teams

Punter Caleb Houston has proven very capable in his freshman season, averaging 41.9 yards on eight punts. Hopefully, he gets plenty of playing time on Saturday. Rodrigo Quirarte and Shawn Moffitt, both juniors, have split time at placekicker. The duo are 10 of 10 on extra points and 2 of 3 on field goals. Moffitt is more of a short-yardage specialist, but does have a career long of 49 yards.

The 2013 Thus Far Week

Central Florida is off to a fast start, defeating Akron 38-7 and Florida International 38-0 in its first two contests. The Golden Knights are currently ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense, but in all fairness they have thus far played two of the worst offenses in all of major college football. The schedule continues to get tougher next week with a match-up against South Carolina before entering its first season in the newly-shaped American Athletic Conference.

Fun Fact

The University of Central Florida was founded in 1963 to take advantage of its proximity to Cape Canaveral.The circle-shaped campus was designed to be pedestrian-friendly and was designed by Walt Disney.

Blog You Should Also Be Reading This Week

Surprisingly, there are no Central Florida blogs to be found on the interwebs. Get on your game, Orlando-based college football fans.


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