1. Archive

UCF finds road life difficult

UCF has seven road games on a 12-game schedule. Three times, the Golden Knights have had back-to-back road games, meaning longer stretches away from the Citrus Bowl.

UCF's record in away games this season: 0-6.

The simple road trip alone cannot explain all of UCF's failings in a disappointing 3-6 season, the latest of which was a 36-18 loss at West Virginia.

But as coach Mike Kruczek searches for answers _ a youthful penchant for critical penalties, mistakes and turnovers, inexperience in key situations and a roster thin on talent and depth but full of injuries _ he can point to one factor that exacerbates those woes: seven road games.

"It seems like we've been on the road for the entire season," Kruczek said. "No, I can't recall a season where we had seven entire weeks on the road.

"I think the lack of success is an indicator that we're not handling the road very well on a consistent basis. Being away from home, from the Citrus Bowl, is a distraction."

Even the normal road routine _ packing, flying, filing into strange hotels, then leaving abruptly _ can be hard for young players, Kruczek said. But he thinks the Knights are starting to handle it better, as evidenced when they closed to 19-11 in the third quarter of the West Virginia loss.

"I think our kids are getting better as we play games on the road," Kruczek said. "I know that sounds funny. But the more experience you get getting on the plane, the more you go through the routine, going to the hotel, getting to the game, the better we'll be."

They have one more chance to get it right: UCF's last road game is this weekend at Eastern Michigan, which fired coach Jeff Woodruff on Monday after a 1-8 start.

UH-OH: Any hope of winning consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles officially has been dashed. The title defense slipped through Bethune-Cookman's fingers after a 13-7 homecoming loss to North Carolina A&T on Saturday.

The Wildcats may not be able to win a share of the prize. They would need the conference's two unbeatens, N.C. A&T and Hampton, to stumble twice, and have Hampton win when the two meet Nov. 15.

But can B-CC return to the Division I-AA playoffs? Perhaps. B-CC would have to win its last three games: Hampton, at Howard and Florida A&M in the Florida Classic to have a shot at making the 16-team playoff field.

POINT MADE: Florida A&M isn't eligible for the Division I-AA MEAC crown or the playoffs because the program is a provisional I-A team looking to make the jump permanent next season..

So there has been little to play for, and it showed as FAMU (6-4) lost to three I-AA teams this season.

But in last weekend's 34-23 road win at Hampton, FAMU had plenty to prove.

"We're back," linebacker Shedrick Copeland told the Tallahassee Democrat.

The offense sure was. Against I-AA's top-ranked defense, the Gulf Coast Offense enjoyed one of its best days of the season, with 405 yards and 28 points (special teams scored one touchdown, a 95-yard kick return by Michael Fisher).

The Rattlers had 21 first downs, rushed for 128 yards and had 277 passing. Quarterback Ben Dougherty led the team in both categories, rushing for 64 and two touchdowns and completing 30-of-46 for 277, a touchdown and an interception. Rod Miller led all receivers with 124.

Dougherty did all that despite a second-quarter hit that left him breathless. "I really thought I was dying," he told the Democrat. "I've had the wind knocked out of me before, but never for that long."

_ Information from other news organizations was used in the report.