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A few thoughts on UCF 33, FIU 20

When asked about quarterback Jake Medlock, who went off with a hand problem for half a fourth quarter touchdown drive, Mario Cristobal said he would be fine. But when asked about Rhodes, who left in the third quarter favoring his right ankle or foot, Cristobal admitted quietly, “He’s a little banged up.” He sounded a little worried. This is the second straight game Rhodes has had to be sidelined. Rhodes left the locker room with a big ice bag on his right foot and ankle.

Now, to the nitty, as Joe Bob Briggs used to say…

Jake Medlock was one for four passing before Kedrick Rhodes had one carry.

Shane Coleman got his first college carry before Kedrick Rhodes had one carry.

The Comcast Spots Southeast play-by-play folks, according to my Twitter timeline, blew three FIU names (“George Cristobal?”) before Kedrick Rhodes had one carry.

Kedrick Rhodes first carry went for 10 yards.

I understand and am a proponent of, calling plays with a slight randomness. Or, flat out taking the unexpected tack when negotiating a defense. But if it’s not working, get back to doing what you do and seeing how well you can work that. FIU didn’t until the second half when down 23-0.

Even with T.Y. Hilton, FIU’s offense worked off the run. (By the way, Wesley Carroll made the UCF game and dropped by the radio booth after seeing his high school team, St. Thomas Aquinas, fall to Don Bosco from New Jersey Friday night. Carroll’s staying in shape with the UFL restarting and a new version of the USFL starting. )

“The first half, we really weren’t running, we were trying to discover the pass,” running back Darian Mallary said. “We came in, we discussed that we were going to run the ball down their throats. It’s our offense. It’s what we’ve got to do. Whatever works for us, we’re going to keep doing it. If it’s not working, we’ve got to change it up.”

As anticipated, UCF adjusted after last week’s results in Columbus (Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller tore through UCF) and West Dade (Medlock runs for 141 on Akron). When FIU ran the read option, the Knights were going to take the ball out of Medlock’s hands.

“They were in squeeze technique and the guy had me all the way,” Medlock said. “That’s why I had to keep giving it.”

Here’s Rhodes’ first six carries: 10, 1, 2, 14, 5, minus 5 (on that last one, I think Medlock could’ve kept and dipped outside the right end, but, hey, not the point here). Normally, that would take us to the end of the first quarter. That was Rhodes’ entire first half workload. Mallary had three first half carries, two as FIU ran out the clock to halftime.

In the second half, FIU had 19 runs for 130 yards. One of those was a sack for a 10-yard loss, so really 18 runs for 140 yards while trying to come back from a 23-0 deficit. They had 11 planned runs in the first half while going from 0-0 to 23-0.

When throwing in the first half, Medlock (one of eight, 4 yards) was like a garden hose with the finger over the hole. There were plays to be had, most notably a short pass to tight end Akil Dan-Fodio, rumbling up the middle past linebackers and a secondary frozen by play action. Medlock so overthrew the pass that the 6-4 Dan-Fodio could get only an outstretched hand on it. Hit that and Dan-Fodio could’ve run halfway back home to Stone Mountain, Georgia.

None of this helped the defense, which clearly needs all the help it can get. The communication problems in the secondary continue. The first of several big passes to UCF wide receiver J.J. Worton saw him mosey into the secondary and get dropped like a cell phone into Brighthouse Networks Stadium. Boom, 36-yard gain, to set up the first UCF touchdown on the kind of error senior safety Johnathan Cyprien said this week the secondary’s been working to eliminate. One shudders to think what Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater (72 of 88 for 855 yards, five touchdowns, zero interceptions in three games) might do next week.

Tourek Williams called getting more pressure on Bortles in the second half “a matter of want-to.” They did get Bortles throwing off his back foot some. But, too often, FIU’s not getting there with a four-man rush and usually not getting there with five. Storm Johnson made some big plays, got stuffed on some runs. He’s that kind of back now. Brynn Harvey ran well on FIU, especially in the first half. The defense, again, got it together after a half, but that’s well below the standard they’ve set for themselves.

UCF won special teams. Rannell Hall averaged 32.0 yards per kickoff return. Worton averaged 12.0 yards per punt return. Especially the latter kept UCF in great field position the entire first half. Then, there's the bad snap by Mitch MacCluggage. FIU goes years without snapping problems and now has them in two of the first three games.

FIU got a little break from the Conference USA refs in the fourth quarter down 30-14. The game’s wildest play saw UCF’s Troy Davis strip Medlock inside the FIU 5, linebacker Terrance Plummer grab the ball and FIU’s Giancarlo Revila, not giving up on the play, grab Plummer and cause him to lose the ball. FIU wide receiver Glenn Coleman recovered. I think that’s the only time he’s touched the ball this year. Anyway, officials ruled Plummer had the ball long enough to qualify for “possession.” Possession? I wasn’t sure he had it long enough to cop a feel. It was ruled two changes of possession, first down FIU. Had it just been ruled a Medlock fumble eventually recovered by Coleman, it would’ve been fourth and 17 from the FIU 4.

FIU proceeded to drive 96 yards, some of it with Lorenzo Hammonds Jr. at quarterback after Medlock got hurt, to a touchdown. One of those life lessons people like to say sports teach: never stop hustling because you never know what can make a difference.

Speaking of which, here’s three plays that could’ve easily gone the other way/not happened and changed the outcome.

The safety: Mitch MacCluggage snapped the ball over Jack Griffin’s head so that Griffin’s only prudent move would be to make sure the ball got out of the end zone for a safety. Two points that kept FIU on the two-score side of the tracks in the second half. In the fourth quarter, when FIU scored its third touchdown, they were down 30-20 and had to go for two to make it a one-score game. Without the safety, kick the extra point and it’s a seven-point, one-score-does-it-all deficit and UCF is sweating.

(An aside: lousy two-point conversion play on concept. FIU lined up with no backs and ran no motion. With UCF having packed the middle of the box, thus cutting off any possible quarterback draw, only the drunkest in the stadium didn’t know FIU would be throwing and likely something quick. Medlock tried to gun it through tight coverage to Wayne Times – no go).

Hall’s layout 47-yard catch: I don’t know if the atmosphere came through on the TV broadcast or if you had to be there. But when FIU walked down to score on the first possession of the second half, then stopped UCF, a palpable mood change swept the stadium. FIU got a first down, then punted, but you could see the Panthers had it together. UCF was starting on its 17, its worst field position of the day. Brynn Harvey got stuffed on first down for no gain by Isame Faciane and Jordan Hunt. On second and 10, UCF reached back for the big Joe Frazier left hook and got it when Rannell Hall did a Superman take off leap to snag a 47-yard bomb to the FIU 21. Richard Leonard couldn’t have had much better coverage. If Bortles had dropped the ball to Hall in stride, Leonard was in position to make a play on Hall or the ball. Hall landed, held the ball, skidded, stopped, then the ball rolled away. The initial ruling of incomplete was reversed, properly, upon review. Instead of third and 10 from their own 17 -- and the Knights were one for four on third down in the second half – they had first and 10 at the FIU 21. Two plays later, they scored to restore the 23-point lead. That catch and ensuing touchdown looked even bigger when FIU answered just 2:57 later with Mallary’s 28-yard run. A 30-14 lead going into the fourth plays very different from 23-14.

Bortles fumble recovery: Or, 30-14 plays differently than 30-21 going into the fourth. On the last play of the third quarter, Tourek Williams got the only sack of the day on Bortles. The ball came out and bounced back up to Bortles, who managed to recover it while being taken down. If that ball bounces away from him at all or Bortles doesn’t cover it cleanly, well, the closest person to the ball was Faciane. Second closest might’ve been me. Isame could’ve written a song about the play on the ball before the nearest Knight reached him. A reprise of last year’s fumble return touchdown would’ve sent the game into the fourth at 30-21 with FIU conducting the Momentum Superchief.

So, FIU’s 1-2 with Louisville coming to town and the Sun Belt season starting in two weeks with a trip to Lafayette. They need to get their minds right on both sides of the ball.


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I heard we are on the AFV watch list for best bloopers.

Seriously, what is going on?

Great analysis DJN, I love reading your writings because you do them with a cold head.

I was at the game, great environment, great stadium, great college atmosphere.

The game wasn't even close, the offense in the first half was non-existant and the defense wasn't much better. I am glad that we score in the second half so the score doesn't show that we actually got run over by a not very good team. This team lacks of leadership, there is a lot of talent in the players (probably similar to UCF) but our coaches look lost and without answers.

This coming weekend will be rough and I am starting to get concerned about the SunBelt Conference schedule. I don't see us being much better than a lot of the other teams in the conference.


"seriously, what is going on?"..." I am starting to get concerned about the SunBelt Conference schedule"..." I don't see us being much better than a lot of the other teams in the conference"

Hey "meda", that's because you are NOT better than "a lot of the other teams" in the pathetic Rainbow Belt Conference, and the fact that you are concerned about anybody from that pathetic conference says everything about "what is going on" with you...which is: you are who you are, a Peon!
Fiwho football, and it's 750 fans will always be a joke!
Try soccer, you may actually create a winner and generate more fans!...albeit third world. : )


I think that you are refering to the 750 fans that showed up to see UM yesterday. That's what is pathetic.

We are a rising team with a very mediocre coaching staff. We will get better before you guys you(if you are actually an alumni what I doubt, you look like a bandwagoner).

Can't quite make out the college football universe. I was at the UM game yesterday. UM looks pathetic. Pitt, as bad as the team is, beats Virginia tech. ULM almost beats auburn in overtime. Kansas State doesn't look good against north Texas. Stanford over USC. And lonelyoutcasts favorite team is 2-1 (duke).

Is there parity in college? What do you think DJN.


Great breakdown. We all felt the game change with the FIU in the second half. But, pinning UCF on first down. The game was there for the taking, sneak out of Orlando win an uggly win.
But there lies the difference between 2011 in 2011 we made it happen. In 2012 the players aren't executing. No game changers. The UCF wr laying out superman style to make the catch! Wow! That's making it happen.

Halley had two dropped picks and one pick-6 that was dropped by I don't recall who.
DJN, you didn't mention on Hammons part-drive how awful he looked on his one pass attempt. That was a int that UCF didn't convert.

After all is say and done going down 23-0 is pathetic. No way to come back like that. These players need to look in the mirror, especially all the DL. Pathetic. Way to play a 2 quarters of football in 3 games!

Blitz!! Hit the qb even if late....but do something!! I don't know what's worse, blitz and leave the cb's 1-1 for 3 seconds or continue with the front 4 getting dogged and cover for 6 sec. T-Rex, your unit blows.

Miami's attendance on it's worst day is better than a capacity crowd at Fiwho's Little High School Aluminum Bleacher Stadium!
Fiwho has about 1,500 faithful football fans and the other 7,000 are a bunch of soccer enthusiast who only follow football because Futbol isn't being played. : )

"we will get better before you guys"...my how your warped perception of yourselves has changed with a Duke stomping and a Knight beat down!...before those two embarrassments you dumb calle ochians thought you were "better"!
Though I do agree that you will get better before we do, simply because getting back to being mediocre (which is what your better consist of) is a lot easier than getting back to being a national contender!
"Fiwho, on the rise to mediocrity!" : )

loneoutcast needs to get laid. its been 30 years and he still hasnt had a chance to use his willy.

Good write up DJN, as usual. Chia makes great points as well in terms of important plays in the game.

As always...

Go Panthers!!

Good analysis. Surprised the Panthers haven't made positive strides this year, despite losing TY. Mario will right the ship eventually.

loneoutcast - you're a douchebag.

FIU fans - zip it on attendance.

Miami's home opener drew 40,000 for a D2 team and they'll draw 70,000 for FSU.

FIU's home opener drew 15,000 and they probably won't draw 20,000 for any of their home games. Best case scenario in a sell out and they'd still have 15,000 less fans than Miami drew for Bethune-Cookman.


Can you kindly ask the Herald's IT team to block loneoutcast/bucnasty (obviously same person, snicker). This CAN be done, they've done it with several of us.

Loneoutcast/Bucnasty really degrades your blog, which is always an excellent read.

Can you teach classes to the rest of the media? That is the most unbiased, objective analysis I've ever seen. Well done!

-- UCF Booster

Buc I hate to start this "who's wiener is longer" thing on the attandence but even your own beat writer Danny Navarro notices your announced attendance was twice the amount than people who were there. I was at FIU home opening game and I can honestly say the actual attandence is around 9,000 to 11,000 which is also lower than announced. I don't think neither of us should be proud of the attandence, especially for a fan whose school has 5 national champs, richer traditions and longer history. Even if us FIU fans or football programs are just bunch of The U wannabes remember our first game wasn't even played when The U won their last national champion.


Yup, attendance is nothing for UM or FIU fans to be proud of and nothing for UM or FIU fans to trash talk about.

Miami fans are the worst in the country, all colleges, all pro sports. Just the way it goes.

I actually like Buc Nasty. He's as even-keeled a poster as we've got here. Can't say the same for lone...

Wow, even North Texas was able to score 3 touchdowns against Kansas State and only lost by 2 TDs.

Fiwho is garbage! : )

...so are you, buc nasty. : )

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