A quickie breakdown:
72: Yards accounted for by Murray on the Knights 81-yard scoring drive to open the game. He had a pretty good first quarter.
147: Consecutive pass attempts for QB Blake Bortles without an interception, tied with Daunte Culpepper for second all-time. Bortles is 16 attempts from breaking the all-time streak held by Vic Penn (1999).
5.3: Yards per rush allowed by UCF on Saturday night. Memphis had been averaging 3.3 yards per carry entering the game. They finished with 240 yards on the ground, nearly double their 127.5 average.
33: Rushing yards for punter Jamie Boyle, who finished second on the team in rushing yards after his impromptu fake punt on Saturday night.
48.0: Boyle also had a pretty good night actually punting the ball, averaging a season-high on yards and pinning Memphis inside the 20-yard line three times, including once on the one-yard line.
23: Tackles from safeties Clayton Geathers and Kemal Ishmael. As Knights coach George O’Leary pointed out on his coaches show, it’s not always the best sign when your safeties are your leading tackles.
79: Yards on the fumble return touchdown by A.J. Bouye. It was the first fumble return for a touchdown since Josh Robinson against UAB on Oct. 6, 2010.
303: Tackles in Kemal Ishmael’s career, eighth-most all-time and second for defensive backs.
0: Sacks by UCF. This number also works for quarterback hurries.
2,651: Yards passing for Marshall QB Rakeem Cato, who leads the nation in the category and is completing 70.3 percent of his passes. Cato also is No. 1 in completions, with 249.
568.4: Yards per game for Marshall, fourth-best in the country behind Oklahoma State, Louisiana Tech and Baylor.
43.1: Points per game for Marshall, eighth-best in the country.
+6: Turnover differential for UCF, which ranks 25th in the country in the rate.
-5: Turnover differential for Marshall, 95th in the country, by rating.
7: Consecutive wins by UCF over Marshall in the series.
WHAT WE LEARNED
- 1. The UCF defense is a big-play unit: Despite its faults, you can’t take that away from a unit that has seven interceptions and has forced 15 turnovers through seven games. The plays have been timely, too, from Kemal Ishmael’s game-winning interception to his fumble recovery at the one-yard line against Memphis, to A.J. Bouye’s momentum killing pick against the Tigers.Big plays in big moments that have changed games and kept UCF in first place in the C-USA East. That is going to continue to factor in, especially against a Marshall team that has a minus-5 differential.
- 2. Consistency is still the problem: This is an issue on both sides of the ball. The Knights are actually ranked quite efficiently against the pass and have allowed just 1,406 yards passing this season, an encouraging stat. At the same time, there are troublesome issues in the last two weeks – namely the run defense and the pass rush. Zero sacks in two weeks is not good. More worrisome is the 5.3 and 5.4 per rush averages of Memphis and Southern Miss in consecutive weeks. On the other side of the ball, the offense has shown flashes in every game in most facets, but they have yet to approach a 60-minute performance. The first quarter was phenomenal for UCF against Memphis, but they faded in and out as an offense after that.
- The passing game lacks the rhythm it needs: There are plenty of positive stats for QB Blake Bortles, namely his interception-less streak (see above), and by the numbers, Bortles has had a good year. He certainly has been efficient – his 141.9 rating is third in the conference. But completing 15-of-26 passes against Memphis was not good enough and there remains a feeling that the passing game is not where it should be yet. Bortles once again held the ball too long on Saturday night and overthrew a few open receivers, and he needs to improve in order for UCF to maintain the right balance on offense. There has to be a respect for the passing game in order for the running game to get the looks its needs to get. Bortles and the passing game need to find a better rhythm.