Correcting mistakes is the mantra this week for UCF as the Knights prepare for Saturday night’s encounter with Bethune-Cookman in Orlando, Fla.
“I told our players we’ve got to improve,” coach Gus Malzahn said after reviewing his team’s season-opening 36-31 comeback victory over Boise State on Sept. 2. “We’ve got to improve in all three phases. I made a lot of mistakes. That’s normal for a first game.”
The Knights trailed the Broncos 24-7 with just over five minutes left in the second quarter. UCF (1-0, 0-0 American), however, scored with just six seconds remaining in the half and added another touchdown on their first possession of the second half.
Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw four touchdown passes but also had two interceptions, including one on the Knights’ first series as they were about to go in to score. Tyric LeBeauf returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown.
“Obviously, the first one he’d like to have that back,” Malzahn said. “There’s no doubt about that. … The second was just tough coverage. Really probably wasn’t a good call at that point.”
Gabriel had only four interceptions in 10 games last year.
Bethune-Cookman (0-1, 0-0 SWAC) also had two turnovers in its opening 38-28 loss at UTEP last Saturday, but penalties were a continuing concern for the Wildcats. They were penalized 12 times for 102 yards in their first outing since the 2019 season finale.
“We haven’t played in two years, and I felt like we had some jitters going in,” quarterback Shannon Patrick said. “We just had some mental mistakes, but we came back in the second half and played a lot better, putting 28 points on the board.”
Patrick completed 15 of 22 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns against an interception. The Wildcats rushed for only 118 yards.
“I thought we made a lot of good plays in all three phases of the game, but we left too many plays on the field,” coach Terry Sims said. “We lost discipline at times and had way too many penalties, and that’s something we don’t do as a football team.”
This will be the second of back-to-back home games for the Knights to open the season. They are at Louisville (Sept. 17) and Navy (Oct. 2) their next two outings.
Bethune-Cookman will host Alabama A&M on Sept. 16 to begin a stretch of nine FCS outings.
–Field Level Media