Moving on from Louisville loss, UCF football looks to fix penalties

Moving on from Louisville loss, UCF football looks to fix penalties

UCF football coach Gus Malzahn is ready to move forward from the Knights’ 20-14 loss against Louisville on Friday night.

“We’ve got a lot of football left,” he said Monday. “We’re capable of being a really good team. Our coaches and our players understand that. We’ve got to figure out a way to learn from it.”

Malzahn said the message to the Knights is to put the mistakes made against the Cardinals in the rear-view mirror as the team prepares for a trip to Boca Raton to take on Willie Taggart’s FAU squad on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Perhaps the most glaring number Malzahn would like to avoid again is 11 penalties for 111 yards. The penalty yardage nearly canceled out all of John Rhys Plumlee’s 131 passing yards.

The high mark came after UCF already had been flagged 10 times for 85 yards in a Week 1 win over South Carolina State.

“Kind of shooting ourselves in the foot,” Malzahn said. “Of course that falls on me as a coach. I’ve got to get it corrected.

“Last week I stood up here and said our penalties are going to get corrected and it didn’t happen,” he added. “We’re going to continue to work on that. We have to improve.”

The majority of the penalties are coachable, according to Malzahn. UCF was called for unsportsmanlike-conduct twice, roughing the passer once, running into the kicker another time and committing multiple false starts.

None loomed larger than the two penalties that took away 14 points from the Knights.

Johnny Richardson’s 57-yard touchdown in the second quarter was negated due to holding by center Matthew Lee while Javon Baker’s 75-yard score in the third quarter was called back due to holding on offensive lineman Ryan Swoboda.

“We’ve had some tough calls the first two games,” Malzahn said “But as a coach, you’ve got to look at it like you can’t put it on the officials. We’ve got to be clean.”

The UCF coach took responsibility for some of the penalties but said his staff will focus on educating the players this week.

“We’ve got to coach them exactly what a penalty is, and what it’s not,” Malzahn said. “The dead-ball penalties, that’s completely coaching. Is it a hold or not? That’s a different deal, but still, you’ve got to coach it. The unsportsmanlike ... that’s completely on me and our staff.”

Injury update

The Knights were without star wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe for the entire second half due to an apparent hamstring injury.

Malzahn said UCF is hoping to have him against the Owls on Saturday but will wait to see how practice goes this week before a final decision is made.

“Everybody knows he’s a dynamic playmaker and when you don’t have him that’s a challenge,” Malzahn said. “We’ll see as the week goes on, but we’re hopeful.”

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