WVU and UCF both looking to establish the run

Field Level Media

October 24, 2023 at 5:58 pm.

West Virginia coach Neal Brown succinctly summed up Saturday’s Big 12 Conference road game against UCF in Orlando, Fla.

“Both teams need a win,” Brown said during his weekly press conference Monday.

That is an understatement, given that both the Mountaineers (4-3, 2-2) and Knights (3-4, 0-4) are riding losing streaks and are desperate to get back on track with the regular season approaching its final month.

West Virginia enters Saturday’s game as a loser of two straight — at Houston on Oct. 12 and at home last weekend to Oklahoma State.

The Mountaineers have been especially leaky on defense the past two weeks, giving up 41 to the Cougars and 48 to the Cowboys.

The task won’t get easier for West Virginia against a UCF offense that is fifth in the Big 12 at an average of 34.1 points per game.

Brown said UCF’s rushing attack, which is second in the conference at 232.4 yards per game, is among the best in the country.

“They’re creative with it, and you’ve got to defend the whole field,” he said. “They are going to use a lot of different motions and things like that to get the receivers involved in the run game. We’ve got to handle tempo.”

In its first season in the Big 12, UCF is still looking for its first conference win after four straight losses.

The Knights came close last week in what might have been their best performance of the season, falling 31-29 at unbeaten and sixth-ranked Oklahoma.

Knights coach Gus Malzahn hopes that performance can catapult his squad to bowl contention for the rest of the season.

While UCF has had success running the ball this year, Malzahn said West Virginia has a formidable rushing attack of its own.

The Mountaineers are fifth in the Big 12 at 191.4 yards per game on the ground.

“They are No. 7 in the country in time of possession,” Malzahn said. “They run the football, they get off the field, and they are good on third down. They’re No. 15 in the country in penalties, so they are a disciplined team.”

West Virginia swept the previous two meetings in 2003 and 2004.

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