Following a 40-13 win over Memphis, No. 25 UCF (3-0, 1-0 AAC) will head north to face Cincinnati (2-3, 0-1 AAC) this Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.
Staying focused on what’s ahead: For the first time since the end of the 2013 season, the Knights are ranked in the top 25. When the weekly rankings came out on Sunday, the team came in at No. 25 in both the Coaches and AP polls. However, no one is dwelling on the recently gained notoriety.
“[The coaches] tell us not to look back,” freshman Otis Anderson said. “You always have to worry about the team that you’re about to play. We really have to work just like we’re working for Memphis, Maryland or any other big school that we’re going to play against.”
Coach Scott Frost said the team needed to keep its focus, so the ranking was not talked about on Monday. Keeping them focused, though, was not a tough task.
“We’ve got some really good leaders on this football team,” Frost said. “I don’t think those guys will let anybody start talking that way. The leadership that I’ve seen from Pat Jasinski, Shaquem Griffin, Wyatt Miller and a bunch of other guys, they’re not going to let this group lose focus.”
Weekly AAC honors: Sophomore Adrian Killins played a major role in UCF’s blowout win over Memphis on Saturday night. He finished with 179 total yards and two touchdowns in the victory, including a UCF-record 96-yard touchdown run. For his efforts, he was named offensive player of the week in the American Athletic Conference.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Killins said. “I have to give credit to my o-line. Without them pancaking guys and cutting guys and doing what they do every day in practice, I would’ve never got that accomplishment.”
The sophomore’s 96-yard touchdown in the second quarter provided the Knights with a huge swing of momentum. The play marked a new school and conference record for longest run from scrimmage.
“AK is a perfect fit for our offense and I think our offense is a perfect fit for him,” Frost said.
Killins wasn’t the only one earning conference player of the week honors, as redshirt junior Matthew Wright was selected for special teams. He kicked two field goals and made four extra points in the win.
Defensive dominance: The UCF offense has improved greatly this year, but that hasn’t stopped the defense from continuing to prove its place as one of the top units in the conference. Though the Knights have played just three games compared to some teams that have played five, their defense is No. 1 in the nation when it comes to average turnover margin per game.
“I think every day, our defensive staff really puts emphasis on creating turnovers,” Frost said. “I think we’ve got some guys with a nose for the football. Offensively, we’ve got a quarterback that’s making a lot better decisions.”
The defense is also having success in getting off the field on third downs. UCF is holding opponents to a 21.6 percent conversion rate, which is fourth-best in all of college football. The unit is also tied for second in red zone defense. A lot of that success comes courtesy of the defensive line.
“During practice, we’re getting an equal amount of reps, so everyone knows what’s going on and we’re all fresh,” redshirt senior defensive end Seyvon Lowry said. “We got a good rotation going.”