After a couple of weeks of facing the proverbial turtle, now the BYU football team has to get ready for a race against the proverbial hare.
In its last two games, the Cougars took on a Coastal Carolina team that held the ball for nearly 38 minutes to run 69 plays and a San Diego State squad that held the ball nearly 37 minutes to run 78 plays.
In Tuesday’s 2020 RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl that will be played at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida, BYU will be lining up against a Central Florida team that averages less than 28 minutes in time of possession and runs an average of 85.7 plays per contest.
That means the Cougars have to have a different mindset.
“They are just going to go quick,” BYU senior linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi said last week. “They’ve got really good athletes. I think we’ve seen that this year with Houston and kind of with the Texas teams that we’ve played. They’ve got really good skill players who are really quick, really fast. That Florida talent is incredible. It’ll be a good matchup.”
Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said he wants to see his team be at its best for the final game of 2020 but knows its not going to be easy.
“We’ve got one more game together and we know we can play better, but we’re going to go against a really established team,” Sitake said. “If you watch the games and you look at the film and you see their stats, they’re an explosive team. We’re gonna have to match their their scoring output if we want to win the game. We’ll have to score more points than they do and that’s going to be a tough task for us, but I think if we play our our type of football then we’ll have a good chance.”
He said that although UCF has lost some games, all of them were close battles.
“If you watch the film, you see that they are an impressive team that is well-coached with tons of speed and discipline,” Sitake said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Knights are second in the nation in yards per game (585.6 yards per contest) and sixth in scoring (44.3 points per game), so the Cougar defense knows it has to be ready for a battle.
“Their offense is great because of their quarterback,” Kaufusi said. “Dillon Gabriel does a good job. We’re really excited about the challenge and definitely looking forward to it.”
While it might appear that the BYU offense will have an edge because UCF has surrendered a lot of yards this year (473.7 yards per game allowed, No. 117 in the nation), Cougar quarterbacks coach Aaron Roderick warned that the stats can be misleading.
“Their offense plays really fast and they score a lot of points,” Roderick said. “They are probably have the fastest pace in college football. Because they play at such a fast pace, their defense ends up defending more snaps than usual. I think the stats are deceptive because of how many snaps they defend. I don’t think it’s wise to look at the total yards they give up or the points they give up.”
When he watches the UCF defense in action, he sees a lot of playmakers on that side of the ball.
“We look at matchups and schemes, and what I see is a team that has a lot of really good players,” Roderick said. “They play a lot of man coverage and they can cover anyone they play. But their defense is on the field a lot.”
The BYU offense is going to have to play at a high level and take advantage of its opportunities.
“We’re going to come out the mindset to score points, just try and finish this as well as we can,” Wilson said. “This is a good defense and we’re going to come ready to play.”