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Orlando, Florida – There was no shortage of positive events for UCF Knights head coach Gus Malzahn to address during the Labor Day press conference.
The Knights (1-0) shocked the world by beating Boise State (0-1) on Thursday night after a 2-hour and 45-minute lightning delay on Thursday. This occurred while reports were circling that UCF is on a shortlist of teams that are under consideration for expansion by the Big 12 conference.
Coach reiterated the resolve his squad demonstrated in the win coming back from a 21-0 deficient, but today added that “championship teams are player driven and we’ve got some strong leaders and they didn’t flinch”.
One of those leaders is defensive end Markaviest “Big Kat” Bryant, who is a graduate transfer from Auburn. What makes Bryant unique is that he was team captain for both the Tigers and the Knights. When asked to recount what the captains said during halftime to set his crew right, he immediately responded.
“We just had to get settled. I told the D-Line that I’ve never been down 21-0 so I was a little sick. We came back to the bench and I looked up at the scoreboard and I was like WHOA,” stated Bryant. “On the defensive side, we knew what we were capable of doing, so I just told the guys to just stay calm.”
Going 1-0 after beating the Broncos has certainly left the UCF fanbase satisfied after what took place in the offseason after the departure of athletic director Danny White and head coach Josh Heupel. The hiring of Terry Mohajir as the new athletic director, Malzahn and the new coaching staff, as well as the player transfers and preparation for the opener leading to interest from the Big 12, is plenty to be excited about. However, Malzahn is treating it more like a first step than a reason to celebrate.
“I think we are in a good spot right now as far as recruiting goes and obviously in a good spot to start the season, but you got to win,” said Malzahn. “I told our team the other day that I think we got a chance to be a good team but we got to improve. We got to correct those things that we made mistakes on.”
While Malzahn was modest about recent positive events, he also showed confidence in his program with speculation regarding movement into the Power 5.
“We’ll see where all that goes. . . this place is set up, no matter what conference it is, it’s set up for success,” stated Malzahn.
Coach also acknowledged Saturday’s opponent, the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats (0-1). Representing the SWAC, B-CU played UTEP close, and captured some respect. Bryant spoke of his fellow players’ outlook on how to approach that contest.
“We’re going to attack them just like they were Boise [State] or Alabama or whomever. That’s how it is. You can’t show weakness. And at the same time, you want to dominate.” stated Bryant.
Should the Knights show the prescribed dominance early in their 6:30 pm EST meeting at the Bounce House, it would be no surprise to see action from the backups to give them polish for later in the season.