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Hoping to rebound from a second consecutive tough loss, the UCF Knights (2-2) are due to return to the Bounce House on October 9th to host the East Carolina Pirates (3-2) at 6:00 pm EST.
The Pirates feature a running attack in Keaton Mitchell that represents a significant threat. In each of their three wins, the ECU ball carrier broke the 100-yard mark, including rushing for 222 yards last week against the Tulane Green Wave.
UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn acknowledged the challenge facing his defense, which has struggled to stop the run the previous two weeks, calling Mitchell “one of the more explosive backs in our league.”
Mulzahn also talked about his team’s spirit despite all the recent letdowns and adversity:
“It was good to get back on the field with our guys after a tough loss,” said Coach. “And that’s two losses that were tough losses. They weren’t just losses they were tough losses. I’m real proud of our team; the way they are handling it. Like I’ve said before we have a lot of winners in the locker room. They game out to practice and they were ready to go for this week – and we’re gonna have to get ready. This is a good team we are playing and we’re gonna have to play good football.”
Coach Malzahn acknowledged that there were a number of self-inflicted wounds in the game last week. However, he appreciated the fact that UCF had a 30-17 lead going into the fourth quarter and is comfortable that new starting quarterback Mikey Keene will perform well in his second career start against the American’s leading defense in tackles for loss and interceptions.
It’s clear that Keene is treating preparation for ECU as business as usual from his perspective with his first start in the books:
“There’s really nothing different; just taking it the same every single day. Obviously, I have a little bit more confidence getting that first game under my belt. As far as practice preparation, I’ve been trying to prepare myself even before I got the opportunity to start I’ve been trying to prepare myself as if I was the starter. Just being locked in and treating every day like it’s game day and making my team better every single day.”
While both Malzahn and Keene explained in detailed their drive to bounce back from this loss, it’s defensive tackle Cam Goode who best expressed how the defensive line and the rest of the team are letting “lessons turn to blessin’s” to put a third victory into the win column.