UCF aims to rebound after seeing its three-game winning streak come to a halt when it hosts UConn on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.
The Knights (6-4) surrendered a total of just 24 points in victories over Memphis, Temple and Tulane before being gashed by SMU last Saturday. The Mustangs recorded 631 total yards and 36 first downs en route to a 55-28 drubbing of UCF in Dallas.
“I’ve talked for weeks, we had been doing a good job of stopping the run,” Knights coach Gus Malzahn said. “When you don’t stop the run, it opens up everything.”
Former Auburn transfer Mark-Antony Richards rushed for a career-best 104 yards and scored twice to notch his first multi-touchdown performance of his career. The production was welcome with leading rusher Isaiah Bowser dressed but not participating due to an ankle injury.
Mikey Keene struggled last Saturday, as he completed just over half his pass attempts (18 of 35) for a mere 174 yards.
“Overall, it was a real disappointing loss,” Malzahn said. “We had three real quality wins (previously). We’ve got to learn from it, we’ve got to grow from it, we need to heal up a little bit, and we’ve got to finish this thing, the next two games, at home.”
The Knights put a perfect 5-0 home record on the line against UConn (1-9), which has been outscored 198-69 on the road this season. The Huskies fell to 0-5 away from East Hartford with a 44-7 loss to Clemson last Saturday.
Freshman Brian Brewton’s 99-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff accounted for the lone high point for UConn.
The Huskies, after all, totaled just 99 yards (including minus-17 rushing), went 0-for-14 on third down, committed two turnovers and were sacked six times.
The carnage was on full display for next year’s head coach, Jim Mora, who will work with the team as an assistant for the remainder of this season.
Interim head coach Lou Spanos, who worked under Mora at UCLA in 2012-13, dismissed his uncertain future at UConn as any semblance of a distraction.
“All the other stuff — you just focus on the task,” Spanos said.
–Field Level Media