TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
October 26, 2010
has big stakes
All rights reserved.
In this corner, the
challenger, wearing black and gold and coming into this game with a 5-2
record and perfect 3-0 mark in Conference USA, it’s U-C-F…..
And in this corner, the
two-time defending champions, wearing purple and gold and coming into
this game with a 5-2 record and perfect 4-0 mark in Conference USA, it’s
We probably won’t have
Michael Buffer in Orlando to introduce the Knights and the Pirates for
this game, but it is that important as far as the 2010 season is
The winner essentially
gains a two-game advantage in the East Division race. East Carolina has
already beaten Southern Miss, so a victory by the Pirates really gives
them a leg up in the East Division.
Southern Miss seems to get
lots of ink, but it’s been East Carolina or Central Florida that has won
the East Division in Conference USA in four of the five years since the
league went to divisions. The Pirates and Knights have won the last
three C-USA titles as well.
East Carolina has ten
Floridians on its roster, but only Dominique Davis hails from central
Florida. Davis is from Lakeland, and may need some extra tickets for the
“We have to stay focused,”
said Davis after Saturday’s win. “We can’t listen to the noise (praise).
We’ll find out a lot about the character of this team over the next
couple of weeks.”
“He’s probably doing some
negotiating with his teammates right now for tickets this weekend, said
Coach Ruffin McNeill. “He’s saying, ‘I’ll give you my Navy tickets for
your UCF tickets.’ I’m sure his teammates will help him out. They have a
way of doing that. You can share tickets within the team and I’m sure
those guys will help him. He’ll have plenty.”
As we continue our look at
the “tale of the tape” there is an obvious stark contrast. This should
be a matchup of a great offense in East Carolina and a most stingy
defense for UCF.
The Pirates are throwing
the football at an average of over 300 yards per game. UCF is giving up
just over half of that.
Coach McNeill put it best
at his Monday news conference when he told everyone that the Pirates
pass “for a living and not for a hobby.”
McNeill’s main concern
about the Knights' defense is that they are able to get pressure on the
quarterback with their front four. That leaves seven to cover the pass.
Most of that coverage is usually in a zone look for UCF.
McNeill, though, says most
teams try to show something different at his offense.
“UCF has a lot of
confidence in what they do,” said McNeill. “They have experienced
defensive players and systems. They believe in their system and it is
sound. They do a good job blending coverages and front stunts. For our
offense, we have to make sure we establish the running game first of
all, like we did the other day. But also, we have to do what we do.”
What the Pirates do is
pick up yardage in chunks and score lots of points. While on paper the
big matchup features the Pirate offense and the UCF defense, that East
Carolina “D” has certainly stepped up of late. The Pirates threw a
shutout in the second half of the Marshall game.
“The sky is the limit,”
said linebacker Dustin Lineback. “We’ve got guys like Damon Magazu, who
just continues to step up as a true freshman. I tell him not to be
scared. (Laughing) He’s so humble and works so hard."
Magazu became a household
name after his overtime interception against N.C. State.
"And we’ve got guys like
Jacobi Jenkins stepping up," added Lineback. "When these guys get in
they are getting in and making plays. That’s making a difference.”
Championships usually come
down to big games in November. I guess it is close enough, because this
showdown is essentially for the East Division title in Conference USA.
Ruffin McNeill’s club has
grown up a ton over the last month.
“We know we’re going into
an environment where they’ll be waiting for us," said McNeill. "We’re
looking forward to going down there. It’ll be a great challenge for us,
but also a great opportunity. We know it’s a conference game and rival.
It’s another Eastern Division opponent. We have to be ready to go. I
respect Central Florida and know that Coach (George) O’Leary and his
staff will have those guys ready to go. I’m looking forward to the game
and to continue our team’s development.”
That maturation process
will be tested again down in Orlando.
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