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Bulls need running game to set up the passing attack

1. Show some balance

Look for the Bulls to try to establish a good mix of run and pass. The ability to do both would keep Central Florida's defense guessing. ... TBs Brandon Thermilus and Mario Henry were not effective running last Saturday against Pittsburgh, but that was largely because the Bulls were playing from behind and were forced to go to the air. ... The Knights are strong against the run, ranking 47th in the country. ... UCF's secondary doesn't give up many big plays but its last opponent, Southern Mississippi, had success with short passes. If Thermilus and Henry have any success, that will open up the game for WRs Naaman Roosevelt and Brett Hamlin.

2. The playmaker
If you already didn't know, Naaman Roosevelt's behind-the-back reception for a touchdown last week proved he's one of the more dynamic wide receivers in the country. All UB has to do is get him the ball and something special is bound to happen. Roosevelt will be a good test for the UCF secondary, which ranks 83rd in the country against the pass. ... The Knights like to put pressure on the QB but not only has the Bulls' offensive line performed well in protecting Zach Maynard, but Maynard has proved to be a quick study when it comes to reading blitzes and dumping off the ball.

3. Where's the D?
The Bulls' run defense didn't show much improvement against Pitt, which rolled up 209 yards. Senior DT Dane Robinson, who was suspended for the first two games, returns this week and should help against the run. ... UCF hasn't shown in the first two games that it has much of a running game. It averages just 70 yards a game, which ranks 107th in the country. Sophomore TB Brynn Harvey, however, rushed for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns vs. Football Championship Subdivision Samford in the season opener. ... The Bulls have plenty of speed and athleticism up front but they aren't very big. MLB Scott Pettigrew, for example, is the Bulls' lightest LB at 213 pounds. ... UB's front seven has to be able to penetrate and prevent Harvey from hitting the holes at full speed. If the Bulls can limit Harvey, it will make UCF's offense as one-dimensional as it was last week versus Southern Miss.

4. Make it hard for Hodges
UCF QB Brett Hodges is making his first start of the season and only the third of his career, so the Bulls need to put pressure on him from all over. UB has only one sack this season but UCF's offensive line doesn't have a lot of experience. ... Hodges was solid last week against Southern Miss in completing 15 of 26 passes for 158 yards and two TDs. ... The Bulls will use as many as six DEs in the Florida heat in hopes of keeping them all fresh.

5. Keep turnovers to a minimum
UB gave Pitt a short field too many times last week so ball security was a huge emphasis in practice this week. ... Ball security was the main story line in the early minutes of the first quarter for UCF last week as the Knights fumbled twice in their first three possessions. ... The foundation of UB's successful season of a year ago was built on takeaways, but the defense has yet to record one this season. The fundamentals of tackling were emphasized during training camp, but creating turnovers is a huge part of the program's identity.

Prediction: The Bulls learned a valuable lesson when it comes to ball security. They should bounce back this week. Bulls, 30-14.

-- Rodney McKissic

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