All season long, the Knights' (8-2, 6-0) defense has been ranked as one of the top units in Conference USA. Saturday's performance against UTEP (2-8, 1-5) proved to be another reason why UCF's defense is one of the best in the league.
Multiple times during UCF's contest against the UTEP Miners, the Knights were put in difficult situations defensively and the team came away with minimal damage. When UTEP began a drive on the UCF 1-yard line in the second quarter, the Knights held the Miners to only a field goal. In the third quarter, the Miners' offense had the ball at midfield and drove down to the Knights 29-yard line only to miss one of its two field goal attempts on the night.
The Knights also held the Miners to only 346 totals yards of offense in the contest.
"You can't praise the defense enough," senior fullback Billy Giovanetti said. "They played great and that's a testament to the leaders on the defense."
Once of those leaders is Miramar native and linebacker Ray Shipman. He led all defenders with 14 tackles. This fifth year senior says he's been pleased with the attitude and effort all of the defensive players have shown this season.
"We preach bend, but don't break," Shipman said. "Plays are going to happen and some people are going to make mistakes. We want to play perfect, but no one has ever seen a perfect game. That's what we're striving for every game."
The 31-24 final score in El Paso was a bit closer than the Knights hoped to record. UCF has won its last three contests by an average margin of 27 points. The Knights will work hard to continue their dominate performances in the final two games of the regular season.
Next week, UCF will travel back out to the Midwest for a showdown against the C-USA West Division leading Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-2, 6-0).
"We're a better team than what we played today, but we got the win and we did it in a different environment," Shipman said. "Every game is important, no matter what their record is, our goal is to get a win. That's what we did. Survive and move on."
"We didn't come out and do what we normally do," senior offensive lineman Jordan Rae said. "But a win is a win and we have some stuff to improve on for next week, but we're going to get ready for Tulsa."