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Orlando, FL – With all the hype and buzz surrounding the opening of the season and the acceptance into the Big XII conference, the UCF Knights (2-0) now set their focus on the first road game of the year, facing the Louisville Cardinals (1-1).
In preparation for this game, head coach Gus Malzahn mentioned two key Cardinals’ players at the open of this week’s press conference:
“Offensively, it starts with their quarterback, Malik Cunningham, a guy that we actually recruited,” Malzahn said. “He’s a dual-threat guy, he can run it, he can throw it. He has great composure. Very impressed with him.”
Defensive back Devonte Brown spoke about what he and his secondary will have to do to contain a mobile threat like Cunningham under center.
“If we’re in a [man-to-man] call, just [keep] your eyes downfield; just doing your job. If we’re in a ‘deep third’; just not doing someone else’s job which is just staying in the coverage,” stated Brown.
Coach also had plenty to say about Louisville’s top linebacker:
“C.J. Avery, I’m familiar with him,” said Malzahn. “He’s been their leading tackler the last two years, he really sets the tone for them.”
Avery could be a real problem considering health issues regarding UCF center Matt Lee, who left the game early on Saturday and is day-to-day going into Friday. Senior starting guard Cole Schneider took over to finish the game against the Wildcats and according to his Coach he and the offense didn’t miss a beat.
Malzahn also mentioned that he is leaning on his veteran quarterback, Dillon Gabriel, as well as his veteran offensive line to keep the offense rolling. Lee represents the youngest starter on that unit, but has also been cited by Malzahn as one the best football players on the roster. However, whether he returns to action or not, there seems to be no lack of confidence that they will still compete.
While it may not have the fanfare surrounding the season opener, this upcoming match scheduled for 7:30 pm EST is the only one on the 2021 schedule against a Power 5 opponent. Should the Knights win the day, aspirations toward a New Year’s Six Bowl berth will be on the minds of Knight fans everywhere.