With UCF looking like it will fall well short of its preseason expectations, the best way to get a sense for what this team looks like will be from the people who were watching the Knights from the other side. JP Gooderham, manager of Tulane blog Fear the Wave, and Kevin Searcy from SB Nation's Garnet & Black Attack were kind enough to share their detailed thoughts on George O'Leary's winless squad.
So UCF is 0-5 but they can't be that bad, right?
JP Gooderham: UCF may have hit rock bottom on Saturday against Tulane. That's always a bold comment when it comes to an 0-5 team, but watching the film against USC (and even in their loss to FCS Furman), you could see that the team was trying to compete. The most shocking thing from that game was seeing the Knights dominated in pretty much every element of the game.
UCF doesn't look like an 0-5 team because they don't have any talent. They look like the kind of 0-5 team that started the year expecting to compete for a title and now has to come to grips with that goal being completely out of reach.
Kevin Searcy: This definitely isn't the UCF that we've come to expect from the past couple of years. They were already young in 2015, and then a rash of injuries and suspensions further depleted their roster. They've still got some athletes who can drop a big play on you, but they have trouble stringing together effective snaps.
Is Bob Diaco an evil genius who knew UCF would be terrible this year?
JPG: There was a clear moment in this game -- I think it was when Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson tracked down a UCF WR heading to the end zone with maybe 12 yards of distance between them, stripped the ball, and the Wave took the fumble to scoring territory -- that I wondered if Bob Diaco is a voodoo priest.
Think about it. A few months ago, Diaco unilaterally declares a rivalry with a team that had lost one game ever in the AAC and does so by posting a goofy looking trophy on Twitter (with a countdown clock to boot). The college football world universally declares the program a laughingstock in the offseason, and life goes on.
Fast forward to now, and UConn will enter the ConFLiCT on pretty much equal footing with the Knights. How do you explain that timing? Magic.
Kevin: Y'all still going with that rivalry thing for this game, right? That can be worrisome. Bad teams can win in weird ways in rivalry games.
What do you make of UCF's quarterback situation?
JPG: Freshman QB Bo Schneider is being thrown into the spotlight due to an injury to Justin Holman. Holman did not travel to NOLA last week despite being listed as questionable. Schneider showed as much grit as you could expect from a true frosh in that situation, but the breakdown of the offensive line allowed seven sacks and five turnovers -- worst of the season in both.
Kevin: Holman was hurt when they played Carolina. We saw Bo Schneider, a true freshman who, looked, well, he looked a lot like a true freshman. They have one of the most inefficient offenses in the nation and they couldn't even manage to get it together against a Gamecocks defense that is giving up 7.3 yards per play this season. I'm not sure they could tell you exactly what kind of offense they played against the Gamecocks. Their team was so depleted at skill positions that they had a hard time sticking to any game plan.
Is there anything good about this team?
JPG: The defense -- at least until the Tulane game -- has kept the Knights in striking distance of their competition, even on the road at South Carolina until the fourth quarter. The fact remains: when the UCF ground game has accrued -22 yards by the third quarter (as they did against Tulane), the defense is going to spend too much time on the field and break eventually.
Kevin: Their defense is pretty physical and they have some good pass rushers. Their secondary is probably better than ours, but that's not anything to write home about.
Huge thanks to JP and Kevin for their input!