Photo Credit: Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports

Speed, Balance and Big Plays: A Look at UCF in 2017

December 06, 2017

During his introductory press conference last Sunday, Nebraska football coach Scott Frost made it clear that he is not adjusting his system for the Big Ten counterparts.

“I’m hoping the Big Ten has to modify their system to us,” Frost said.

Whatever the specifics of his system are, it doesn’t take a genius to realize it’s successful.

With a spot in the Peach Bowl, Frost’s 2017 Central Florida squad is a perfect 12-0. It’s most recent victory came in a thrilling 62-55 game against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

The locomotive of the Knights dominant season was their offense, which ranks first among 130 FBS programs with an average of 49.4 points scored per game. In comparison, Nebraska’s offense ranks 86th, scoring barely half of what the Knights averaged.

That trend continues in a majority of offensive stats.

Those who watched the track-meet style conference championship last Saturday caught a glimpse of what Nebraska’s offense may look like in the near future.

Hint: Statistically wise, it is worlds apart from the inconsistent offense the Huskers had this season under former coaches Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf.

Unlike Nebraska, UCF’s offense was quite balanced this season. The Knights average 339.3 yards per game through the air, seventh best in the country, and another 201.2 on the ground, which ranks 34th.

With a three-headed-monster attack in the run game, UCF averaged nearly twice as many rushing yards as Nebraska did this season. The Huskers were just above the century mark with an average of 107.5 rushing yards per game.

In November alone, the final month of the season, Nebraska ranked 124th out of 130 FBS programs with an average of 78.75 yards per game.

Without a consistent run game, Nebraska was forced to throw the ball more, but only averaged 277.5 passing yards per game. Although that ranks 27th in the country, it’s over 60 yards less than UCF’s average.

UCF sophomore McKenzie Milton is a true dual-threat quarterback. Milton is second on the team with 497 rushing yards this season.

His mobility, along with protection from the offensive line, prevented the Knights from allowing opposing defenses to record sacks.

UCF ranks seventh in the country with just 12 sacks allowed this season. Nebraska allowed twice that amount and ranks 63rd.

Milton and the rest of UCF’s offense have done a nice job of protecting the football, something Nebraska’s offense struggled with early in the season.

The Knights have just 14 turnovers this season, which ranks 25th fewest in the country. The Huskers had 19, which ranks 75th.

One of the many struggles the Huskers had on offense this season was keeping drives alive by converting crucial third and fourth downs.

Nebraska finished the season with a third-down conversion rate of just 37.57 percent. That rate ranks 89th in the country.

With one game remaining for UCF, the Knights have a third-down conversion rate of 45.70 percent, 17th best among FBS programs.

When it comes to fourth down, Nebraska isn’t too far behind UCF. The Huskers had a fourth-down conversion rate of 48.15 percent. The Knight’s rate is exactly 50 percent.

Another issue for Nebraska this season was scoring in the red zone. After scoring on just 75.56 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line, Nebraska ranks 112th in the country.

The Knights don’t have the best red-zone offense, but it’s still much better than the Huskers’. UCF has scored on 84.85 percent of it trips inside the 20, which ranks 65th.

Between the 12 offensive statistics I compared, the only one Nebraska had a higher ranking was in time of possession. The Huskers possessed the ball for 30:36 per game. The Knights possessed the ball for just 28:16 per game.

UCF’s average possession time ranks 103rd in the country, yet they still have the highest scoring offense.

A likely reasoning for this odd ratio is the explosiveness of the Knight’s offense.

UCF has totaled 152 explosive plays this season, meaning it had a running play of 10-plus yards and a passing play of 20-plus yards.

Nebraska totaled just 93 explosive plays—44 on the ground and 49 through the air.

The Knights rank second in the country with 76 explosive pass plays and 33rd in the country with 76 explosive run plays.

With a high number of “chunk” plays, UCF has picked up 25.6 first downs per game, seventh best in the nation. In comparison, Nebraska averaged just 19.7 first downs per game.

If Frost can have the same results at Nebraska, don’t take a bathroom break or look away while the offense is on the field, because you might miss something.

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