ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — UCF coach Scott Frost will stress to his football team that preparing for Navy’s triple-option offense is no different than any other week.
It’s always about playing sound football, maintaining assignments and filling gaps.
Frost, whose 20th-ranked Knights travel to Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the Midshipmen in clash of top American Athletic Conference teams on Saturday, sounds almost convincing.
“This is no different” than any other week, Frost said Monday. “It’s a different way of presenting it. This is a really good team and I don’t mean to say that we’re taking them lightly or not excited for the challenge, but we also are not going to make too much of the fact that they run a different offense.”
Everything about how the Knights have prepared for nation’s top rushing offense, however, indicates Frost and his coaching staff know better. UCF started taking periodic practice repetitions against the option attack in spring practice on into fall camp.
And Frost, a successful option quarterback for the Nebraska Huskies in the mid to late 1990s, has traded in his coaches cap for a chin strapless helmet this week to give the defense a true look at what they will see when they come up against Navy quarterback Zach Abey.
“It’s kind of exciting to see him running around,” UCF senior outside linebacker Shaquem Griffin said after Monday morning’s practice. “You’re not going to get a better look than having Coach Frost in there. He knows what we will see from Navy.”
What the Knights will see is a finely tuned option attack that will find any vulnerability in a defense and continuously exploit it. Led by Abey, whose has 1,016 yards rushing in six games this season, the Midshipmen are averaging 397.5 yards rushing per game this season.
Until Saturday’s loss, Navy (5-1, 3-1 AAC) had been undefeated and ranked 25th in the country.
The Knights (5-0, 3-0) know that it will take playing assignment football and being disciplined for the first 6-0 start in program history.
“You can’t be a selfish player,” senior UCF inside linebacker Chequan Burkett said. “You have to play your part of the play, read your keys because it’s three plays within one of their offensive plays. The quarterback can keep the ball or he can hand it to the fullback.
“It’s a team effort so everyone has to be bought into their assignment.”
So far this season the Knights defense has been fairly stout against the run, holding opponents to 110.2 yards of offense per game and 3.67 yards per carry. But they haven’t faced a team as committed to the run as the Midshipmen.
The Knights would have some live game experience against the option had their game against Georgia Tech not been canceled last month due to Hurricane Irma. Frost sees the positives and negatives of not playing that game before Navy.
“It would have given us a chance to get a good look at it and play against a team that is really good at doing it,” he said. “On the flip side of that, Navy would have seen our approach to how to stop it and would have game planned for it.”
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