BCS Game to Watch: FIU vs. UCFby Tony Capobianco on Sep. 05, 2013, under College Football
This week’s TC Sports Game of the Week involves a fairly new football rivalry in Florida, Central Florida and Florida International.
Last year Central Florida rode off into the sunset as C-USA members with a 10-4 record, an overtime loss to Tulsa in the conference title game, and a Ball State beat down in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl on their way to the automatic qualifying American Athletic Conference.
FIU has their spot in the old conference and in their first home game as C-USA members, the Knights would like to show them how it’s done in front of a Friday night CBS Sports Network audience.
UCF quarterback Blake Bortles was a stellar quarterback for the Knights last year (62.9 CMP% 3059 YDS 25 TD 7INT) and showed no signs of rust against Akron (75 CMP% 314 YPA 3 TD 0 INT). He’s also a bit of a scrambler and has a pair of wide receivers who are a bit bigger than what FIU faced in Maryland, which makes him a potential disaster for the young and thin Panther secondary.
“If his first options aren’t there,” FIU defensive coordinator Josh Conklin said. “he wants to look for the escaped rout. When I watching tape, it’s almost looks like he throws better on the run. Which makes it a very difficult situation to defend at times.”
FIU’s pass defense is in big trouble. According to head coach Ron Turner, cornerback Richard Leonard is out this season due to academics, safety Demarkus Perkins is questionable for Friday, meaning their best hope to stop UCF’s offense is their pass rush.
“I think [defensive tackles] Greg Hickman and Isame [Faciane] and Lenard Washington have to have really good games. I think the two ends have to have good game against their tight ends. If we can win the line of scrimmage and get the run game isolated, we have a chance to get them into drop back situations.”
Their defensive line is their biggest strength. If they can contain running back Storm Johnson and force Bortles to drop back as a pocket passer, they can get him.
And Jake Medlock knows a lot about what happens when the offensive line gets trampled by a bunch of behemoths. Or at least he learned the hard way at Maryland.
Which by the way means nothing if Medlock can’t be protected.
Offensively, Ron Turner saw first hand in Tampa Bay what wonders a strong running back can do. He had the Muscle Hamster in Doug Martin with the Buccaneers. He should try to utilize sophomore running back Lamarq Caldwell the same way for instant results.
The Panthers are 24.5 point underdogs, which is a bit much. After all, this is a rivalry game.
Follow the editor @TonyCapobianco who will be covering the game for TC Sports and My Miami Sports.