TU vs. UCF: Breaking down the matchups
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Saturday, December 01, 2012
12/01/12 at 3:11 AM
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Tulsa run game vs. UCF run defense
In Conference USA play, the Golden Hurricane averaged 264 yards per game and 5.2 per carry while totaling 23 rushing TDs. Tailbacks Ja'Terian Douglas, Trey Watts and Alex Singleton concluded the regular season with a combined total of 2,327 yards and 28 touchdowns. Against seven other C-USA opponents, UCF gave up 149 rushing yards per game. Against TU on Nov. 17, the Knights gave up 209 on 53 attempts.
UCF pass game vs. Tulsa pass defense
In conference games, five C-USA quarterbacks - Marshall's Rakeem Cato, Tulane's Ryan Griffin, East Carolina's Shane Carden, UAB's Austin Brown and SMU's Garrett Gilbert - averaged at least 37 pass attempts. With sophomore Blake Bortles at QB, UCF has a more conservative pass attack. On 26 attempts per league game, Bortles completed 63 percent, with 11 TD passes against only two interceptions. Tulsa's front-seven pressure has resulted in a program-record total of 45 sacks.
Each team is armed with a home-run threat on kickoff returns. UCF's Quincy McDuffie has scored on three returns this season and leads Conference USA with a 34.4-yard average. At No. 2 in the conference is Tulsa's Trey Watts (30.1-yard average). The Golden Hurricane has two glaring problems - flawed punt protection (resulting in blocks in the UAB, Rice and SMU games) and the confidence/accuracy of freshman kicker Daniel Schwarz. Against UCF on Nov. 17, Schwarz missed a 29-yard field goal. In losses at Arkansas and SMU, failed extra-point kicks were significant.
For 66-year-old George O'Leary, the C-USA championship contest is his 199th game as a head coach. He has an NFL background that influences his offensive approach. Instead of trying to get 100 plays a game, the Knights thrive with a methodical attack and a strong commitment to the run game. He led UCF to championship-game victories in 2007 (44-25 over Tulsa) and 2010 (17-7 over SMU). In two seasons as the Hurricane head man, Bill Blankenship is 17-8 overall and 14-2 in Conference USA. With Blankenship as the offensive play-caller, TU averages 35 points and 462 yards per game.
UCF run game vs. Tulsa run defense
At 6-foot-3 and 222 pounds, Latavius Murray is a weapon for Central Florida. In conference play, the senior running back averaged 107 rushing yards per game and 6 yards per attempt. Against Tulsa, however, he was popped all day by Hurricane linebackers and limited to 60 yards on 22 carries. Against the Hurricane, Conference USA opponents have averaged only 2.7 yards per attempt. With tackles Daeshon Bufford and Derrick Jackson, along with linebacker DeAundre Brown, the middle of the TU defense has been outstanding.
Tulsa pass game vs. UCF pass defense
Central Florida cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Kemal Ishmael are ball hawks, each with three interceptions this season. When the Knights visited Tulsa on Nov. 17, Bouye scored on a 76-yard interception return. The Golden Hurricane offensive line has given up only eight sacks all season, and QB Cody Green was effective against UCF - 21-of-34 passing for 252 yards. Wide receiver Keyarris Garrett scored on pass plays of 70, 20 and 13 yards.
Alex Singleton pushes for the extra yard against Central Florida last month. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World