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Gameday blog: UM 20, UCF 14 (F)

I'm here at Dolphin Stadium to provide you with highlights as well as my thoughts from today's game against the University of Central Florida.

> Talk about a fitting song. At halftime, UM's band played Don't Stop Believing from Journey. Problem is this first half effort has a lot of people no longer believing things are heading in the right direction.
> I don't know about you, but I feel like I'm watching a replay of the 2007 season. UM is struggling against a bad team and can't move the football.
> Today's attendance: 40,011.

> UCF's 1st drive:
The Knights catch a break when Matt Bosher's kickoff bounces out of bounds. But the Knights are unable to do much and are forced to punt. Allen Bailey picks up his second sack of the game on third down.
> UM's 1st drive: The Canes go 3-and-out.
> UCF's 2nd drive: Another UCF 3-and-out.
> UM's 2nd drive: Robert Marve picks up a first down when he finds Dedrick Epps for about a 15-yard gain down to the UM 38. But the drive ends when Robert Marve's third down pass to Travis Benjamin finishes a yard short of the first down marker.
> I've had some computer issues here in the third quarter. UM has the ball on its on 8 and is facing a 3rd and 7 when we come back in the fourth quarter.
> UM's 4th drive: Another UM drive fizzles and the Canes are forced to punt from deep in their own end zone. Joe Burnett fields a 42-yard punt and gets smacked down at the Canes 45. UCF takes over at its own 41 following a punt.
> UCF's 5th drive: The Knights change quarterbacks and Michael Greco slips down at his own 29-yard line for a loss of 12 yards. Brandon Harris then has a chance to pick off his first pass of his career and drops the INT at the UCF 42. The Canes then catch another break when a bad snap sails over the head of UCF's punter before he kicks out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 13:31 left to play. UM 12, UCF 7.
> Just got the stats for the end of the third quarter... UCF has a total of 66 yards total offense and no yards rushing. UM has 199 yards total offense and only 75 yards passing.
> UM's 5th drive: Jacory Harris gets back into the game with 13:24 left and UM at its own 41. But once again UM goes nowhere and Bosher comes in for a punt and UCF takes over at its own 19.
> UCF's 6th drive: UCF looks like its getting smart. Calabreese comes back in at quarterback and the Knights go the FSU offense, running the ball with the quarterback right down the middle of the field for a big 26-yard gain. But that's all that works. UCF is forced to punt and UM takes over at its own 17 with 9:26 to play.
> UM's 6th drive: Harris stays in at quarterback and delivers. Faced with a 3rd and 8 at the UM 19, he finds Laron Byrd for a 14-yard gain to the UM 33. Jacory nearly loses the ball a play later when UCF defenders runs right up the middle on the snap and knocks the ball free. Eventually, UM is forced to punt. That's when UM really catches the break it needs. Joe Burnett has the ball slip right through his hands and Sam Shields falls on the ball at the UCF 5.
> UM's 7th drive: One play later, Graig Cooper scores a touchdown with 5:21 left to make it 18-7. UM then goes for two and scores on a Harris run up the middle to make it 20-7. UM 20, UCF 7.
> UCF's 7th drive: UCF looks like it makes a huge mistake when it bobbles the ensuing kickoff and gets tackled deep inside its own territory. But the Canes make a huge mistake -- DeMarcus Van Dyke -- and are flagged for offsides. On the do-over, Joe Burnett makes up for his previous fumble on punt and returns the kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown with 4:57 to play. UM 20, UCF 14.
> UM's 8th drive:
The Canes start at their own 34 and go nowhere on first and second down. On third and 8, Harris gets sacked back at the UM 20 by Bruce Miller with 3:48 to play.
> UCF's 8th drive: Joe Burnett returns the punt to the UCF 41 and the Knights take over with 3:39 left. On first down, Calabrese scrambles for 9 yards to the 50. Linebacker Glenn Cook goes out with an injury on the play. Another Calabrese scramble then picks up a first down. On third and 6 two plays later, Calabrese gets knocked down by Brandon Harris at the UM 36. On fourth and 4, Calabrese tries to find Brian Watters over the middle, but the pass is batted down by Daryl Sharpton giving UM possession with 1:52 to play.
> UM's 9th drive: UM takes three knees and runs out the clock.

> UM's 1st drive: Following an 18-yard return by Travis Benjamin, UM starts at it owns 24 yard line. Talk about a good start -- Graig Cooper takes the opening handoff and runs right up the middle for an 18-yard gain before free safety Jason Venson yanked him down. But that's the highlight of the drive. After two failed runs, Robert Marve gets intercepted by Sha'reff Rashard, giving UCF possesion at the UM 42.
> UCF's 1st drive: The Knights get great field position, but go a quick three-and-out. It gets worse for them when punter Blake Clingan gets off a 6-yard punt giving UM possession at the Canes 32.
> UM's 2nd drive: Freshman receiver Thearon Collier makes a tremendous play on a quick screen pass. After getting initially smacked at the line of scrimmage, he keeps his balance and picks up 12 yards. On the next play, Cooper runs right up the middle for 16 yards down to the UCF 40. Miami then faces a third and 7 at the UCF 37, Robert Marve scrambles out of bounds, but UM keeps the drive alive when linebacker Lawrence Young gets flagged for a personal foul penalty moving the ball to the UCF 22. Benjamin, the star of last week's loss to FSU, then catches his second TD pass of the season when he runs right past the UCF secondary and hauls in a 25-yard touchown pass from Marve. The drive: 8 plays, 68 yards, 2:55. UM 7, UCF 0.
> UCF's 2nd drive: Faced with a 3rd and 9 at his own 21, Rob Calabreese completes a 15-yard pass to Brian Watters for a first down. But three plays later and a few bad Calabreese passes later, UCF is forced to punt. That's when junior Richard Gordon makes the first big play of his career, splitting the UCF punt team to block a punt and give UM possession at the UCF 25.
> UM's 3rd drive: Miami gets great field position but settles for a 35-yard field goal from Matt Bosher with 5:35 left in the first quarter. UM 10, UCF 0.
> By the way, Chris Barney entered the game on that field goal attempt. Amazing. Shannon told us last Sunday Barney, who was injured in fall camp, was nowhere near close to playing.
> UCF's 3rd drive: Another quick three and out for the struggling UCF offense. Miami takes over at its own 25 following a 55-yard punt with 3:42 left.
> UM's 4th drive: Jacory Harris makes his first appearance in the first quarter of a game since his only start against Charleston Southern. Chris Rutledge stalls the drive when he gets called for a false start. The drive ends when Harris puts a pass on the money to Thearon Collier, but Collier drops it after taking a strong hit. Bosher then gets off a 15-yard punt, giving UCF the ball at the UM 43.
> UCF's 4th drive: Once again, UCF is turned away. The Knights take two shots deep downfield at Brandon Harris, but are unable to capitalize and punt the ball into the end zone.
> UM's 5th drive: Miami stalls once again and is forced to punt. UCF's Joe Burnett returns the ball 32 yards to the UM 31 and is saved from scoring a touchdown when Sam Shields catches him from behind on the final play of the first quarter.
> UCF's 5th drive: The Knights get great field position, but go three-and-out. Former Cane Daren Daly makes a 48-yard field goal. But it gets wiped off the board when UCF is flagged for illegal formation. UCF then elects to punt and the ball sails into the end zone, giving UM a first and 10 at its 20 with 14:31 left in the half.
> UM's 6th drive: Lee Chambers makes an appearance -- and impact. His first carry goes for five yards and his next carry goes for 25 after he breaks a couple tackles. But the drive fizzles thereafter. Marve tried a deep pass to Travis Benjamin, but it got batted away. He then scrambled on third and long, but got stopped five yards shy of the first down marker. Bosher then gets off his second bad punt of the game when he nets a 13-yard punt.
> UCF's 6th drive: Ugly, ugly football. UCF's offense appears to be the perfect remedy for this struggling UM defense. Another three-and-out for the Knights. The Canes end up losing yardage on the punt return when Thearon Collier goes backward and UM gets flagged for an illegal punt. UM takes over at its own 10 with 10:36 left in the half.
> UM's 7th drive: Graig Cooper comes back in and rushes twice for a first down. Miami moves to the 50 when Marve gets intercepted for the second time. Johnell Neal steps in front of a 15-yard pass intended to Travis Benjamin at the 38 and returns it 62 yards for a touchdown with 7:22 to play in the first half. UM 10, UCF 7.
> UM's 8th drive:
Following a short UCF kickoff to Ryan Hill, Miami takes over at its own 36. But the cautious Canes run the football three times and punt. Bosher gets off a nice 45-yard punt that gets no return when Shields smacks down Burnett at his own 17 with 5:15 left in the half.
> UCF's 7th drive: The Knights finally start moving the football and pick up a first down on a 15-yard completion from Calabrese to Kamar Aiken. UCF converts a fourth and one at the UM 46 to keep their drive alive. But on the next play, Daryl Sharpton comes in on a blitz and sacks Calabrese back at the UCF 47. The drive ends when Allen Bailey picks up a sack on third and long.
> UM's 9th drive: The Canes try to take advantage and get a score before the half. Instead, Marve gets picked for the third time today and the second by Sha'reef Rashad back at the UCF 33 with 27 seconds left. Is it Jacory time?
> UCF's 8th drive: The Knights only get two plays off before the half ends in ugly, pathetic fashion.

Checking in from Dolphin Stadium an hour before the Canes try to get back on the winning side of things against the University of Central Florida. Today's game, scheduled for a 3:58 kickoff (delayed because of thunderstorms in the area), will be televised on ESPNU. I know most of you don't have ESPNU. I'll provide updates here on the blog drive by drive. But for a play-by-play, visit www.wqam.com for the radio broadcast.

A couple of early notes...
> It looks like we will definitely see more of the freshmen today. Travis Benjamin and Aldarius Johnson are listed as the starters at receiver with Laron Byrd and Davon Johnson as the primary backups.
> Brandon Harris is also still listed as a starter at corner with senior Bruce Johnson. Arthur Brown is listed as the backup at strongside linebacker behind Daryl Sharpton. I've heard to expect Arthur to see a lot of playing time today.