Weather won’t be a factor for UCF’s game against UConn


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Rannell Hall (right) had five catches for 76 yards in UCF’s win over Temple.

Conference play can get very competitive in Division I college football, but for the UCF Knights they’ve managed to start off 11-0 in the American Athletic Conference since it’s inauguration last season.

Now the Knights will take that perfect conference record to East Hartford, Conn. where they will face a 1-6 UConn Huskies team that if fresh off a game where they were tied with the No. 18/17 ECU Pirates into the fourth quarter.

UCF will go into Connecticut riding a five-game winning streak, while forcing 13 turnovers during that streak. Defensively the Knights have been coming up big in the red zone, keeping their opponents to field goals rather than touchdowns.

“As a defense that’s what you want to do,” said linebacker Troy Gray about the forced turnovers. “You want to get the ball back to the offense as quickly as possible, three-and-outs, turnovers, whatever it is that’s what you want to do.”

The Knights are coming off what head coach George O’Leary called the teams best outing of the year so far after their 34-14 win over Temple. UCF has some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball including cornerback Jacoby Glenn, who has five interceptions which leads the AAC, and linebacker Terrance Plummer.

“Defensively I thought they bowed up when they had to bow up,” said O’Leary of his defense. “In the red zone, goal line I thought they played well with great effort.”

UConn’s offense is led by quarterback Chandler Whitmer, who is coming off a 303 yard, two touchdown performance against nationally ranked East Carolina. Whitmer has thrown for 1159 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season, while also completing 56 percent of his passes.

“He’s a great player, he has a good arm and just the guys that he has around him,” said Gray of UConn’s senior quarterback. “They have good running backs, they have good wide receivers and a good offensive line.

“So what we have to do is make sure we stay in our coverages, make sure that we get some pressure on to their quarterback and make him make bad throws.”

UCF quarterback Justin Holman should look to have a good game against UConn, as the Huskies give up an average of 238.3 yards per game passing and have given up 12 touchdowns through the air through seven games. Holman is coming off a career game against Temple, in which he set a new personal best with 336 passing yards.

Weather conditions will be chilly at Rentschler Field on Saturday, as projected temperatures in Connecticut are in the low 40s for the day. But that shouldn’t effect the Knights as they’ve faced lower temperatures during a trip to SMU last season.

“We went to SMU and that was the coldest I’ve ever felt in my life,” said running back Cedric Thompson. “So I feel like as a team we’ve seen the worst as it can get for us, so we feel confident that the weather shouldn’t be a problem for us.”

For some UCF players this trip to UConn will be the furthest North they’ve been during their time with the program. (Besides the overseas trip to Ireland earlier in the season, which is geographically further north than Connecticut.)

The Knights will have the luxury of a noon EST kickoff against UConn on Saturday, as UCF will look to improve to stay at the top of the AAC standings with a win over the Huskies. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.