Scott Frost and his players just want to play a game.
Many teams are preparing for their fourth game but thanks to Hurricane Irma, UCF has played only one - a 61-17 thrashing of FIU - way back on Aug. 31. The Memphis (Sept. 9) and Georgia Tech (Sept. 16) home games were wiped out, though the Memphis game is back on for Sept. 30.
Frost expects a "whale of a game" this week from Maryland, who are 2-0 and coming off a bye week. The Terrapins opened the season with a 51-41 road win at Texas, though they had to deal with some adversity when starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome was lost for the season with an ACL tear. True freshman Kasim Hill was named the starter going into their week two game vs. FCS Towson, a game they easily won 63-17.
Saturday's game will kick off from College Park, Md., at 3 p.m . on FS1.
Here's what Frost had to say at his weekly press briefing.
On resuming a normal week:
"It's early, but Monday felt like Monday. It's the first time in a couple weeks that a day has felt like it's supposed to feel. Players responded well. I thought they came out and practiced really well today. Hopefully we're taking the first step to getting back on a regular schedule."
On the Thursday/Friday practices to get reacclimated:
"I think those practices last week were key for us. If we would've come out rusty today, it wouldn't have been the best for our preparation. Getting those Thursday, Friday practices in helped the players feel like they were ready to go again. Got a couple more days off. And now we're back into a regular routine. They had a good day."
On whether giving the players the weekend off was because they anticipate not having a bye week on Oct. 28:
On the players aiding the community last week:
"We didn't have our whole team here to practice. That was the biggest reason that kept us from playing last Saturday. We had a number of guys here and a good piece of the team here. We didn't want to sit on our hands and do nothing. We lifted both mornings that we went and did things. Our players really answered the call. We didn't make it mandatory, but we told them we had some opportunities to go out and help people in the community. The guys responded in force. I was with the group that did sandbags. Those guys worked hard. Hopefully made a little bit of difference there. Sounds like they really worked hard at the food bank. Those are two small things, but when people are hurting and when there's damage in the area, we have an army of guys here and we're going to be looking for ways we can help."
On Maryland's improvement since last year:
"I think Maryland is a very similar to us. They had a new coaching staff last year. They took over a program that hadn't done well the year before. Saw some improvement last year in the record they had and I think they've taken another step this year. Obviously a big win in week one against Texas. I see more team speed. I see their guys understanding what they're doing better. I think they're more effiicient. They made a bunch of improvements. I think we have too. The two teams were evenly matched last year and I think both programs have taken some more steps forward."
On Maryland's freshman quarterback:
"The freshman from D.C. is a good player. He's going to be a really good player there. You never know what you're going to get when you start a true freshman. He's played well after being forced into duty. I think they're smart in asking him to do things he can do. He throws it well. He runs it well. He's managed the offense well in a game and a half. He's not that much different from the guy they were starting to begin the season. I think their offense is going to be their offense. He's been impressive in a week and a half."
On Frost's personal challenges these past few weeks:
"It's been a challenge. We game planned for three teams and we didn't end up using them. We've had time. That's made it nice to have a little more time to prepare for these things. We already have a game plan ready for Memphis that the kids have already seen. There's some good things. When you're a competitor, you want to play. The players want to play. The coaches want to coach. We put in too much work not to go out and test ourselves against other people. We're all itching to get out and compete again. We're going to have to take advantage of every opportunity that we get. These next two games are two really good teams. We have a big opportunity right in front of us, going up and playing Maryland who is doing really well right now. Playing a Memphis team that just knocked off a PAC-12 team. These are two big weeks, so we need to get as ready as we can fast."
On whether Frost watched football games on Saturday:
"No. I took my wife to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. We don' get time off like that very often. Certainly unfortunate circumstances that we weren't able to stay on a regular routine. Any chance our coaching staff gets to get out of here, we need to spend more time with family.
On how he liked it:
"It was great. They had I think nine haunted houses. I got to ride the roller coaster. Things I don't usually get to do in the fall. It was a pleasant night."
On the potential of playing an extended period of games in a row if they do schedule another game for the current bye week:
"It's not ideal. I liked where our bye week was when I saw the schedule. The good thing this year compared to last year is last year the bye week got changed on us last minute, so we didn't get a chance to give our kids any time off. There was no time to recover physically. No time to get rested. The one benefit this year compared to last year is these guys had about five or six days off. That should help us. We're going to have a long stretch here of 10 straight games, hopefully, if we can get another game scheduled. Getting this time off and letting our kids rest and recover should help us get through that. It's still not ideal, but I think every player on our team and every coach on our team would rather play an 11th game and sacrifice having a little more time off. It's a little bit of a challenge from a recruiting standpoint too because we usually send the coaches out on the road in the bye week and we're going to lose that opportunity. There's some adjustments we're going to have to make. Playing an 11th game is a better option to me than not."
On the status of OL Tyler Hudanick:
"Tyler is coming along. The sooner he's out there, the happier I'll be. He's getting a little bit better every day. We're still not sure when it's going to be. It might be soon or might be later. He doesn't time off right now. He needs reps. He needs to get comfortable with his leg. He needs to be explosive. He needs to kind of shake a lot of rust off. He was out there today and doing some good things. I think we'll have him back before too long."
On whether this experience has brought the team closer together:
"Any time you can do something as a team that doesn't have to do with football, I think it helps you. Watching those guys work together, filling sandbags, was fun for me. Seeing which guys were working hard and which guys were helping each other. All those things bring your team closer together. This team we have this year I think is going to respond to any curveballs that are thrown at them a lot better than our team last year. A lot of it has to do with how closely knit this guys are."
On Maryland's offense:
"I think they're a little bit different this year. I think they run it a little more to set up the pass. They certainly can do both. They're running their quarterback a little bit more. A lot of fly sweeps and quarterback powers off fly sweeps and some counters they run really well. They do a good job mixing up the throwing game. They've only played two games, but nobody has really stopped them yet. It's going to be a big challenge for our defense. We've got to have a great week of practice and go up there as prepared as we can be for that game."
On McKenzie Milton starting vs. Maryland last year and the six fumbles he had:
"Six fumbles? Sweet fancy Moses. We watched the game from last year a bunch of times. I think overall as a team we played pretty well. Well enough to win. We made too many mistakes and it costs us the ballgame. We had fumbles on exchanges. We had tipped ball interceptions. McKenzie threw one backwards over his head for a 15-yard loss. It was his first start. I think he's kind of indicative of both teams right now. He's a lot better player than he was when those two teams squared off last year. I think both teams as a whole are better than they were when UCF played Maryland last year. I expect a great competition and a whale of a game."
On the players' focus:
"If today's practice is any indication, I feel really good about our players being able to dial back in. Their desire to play football and their hunger to go out and compete is going to drive them to work. Thursday and Friday were a little bit sloppy and a little bit rusty, but today was as good a Monday as we've had. That speaks a lot to how mature our team is compared to last year and how they've handled this whole thing. The rest of this week's preparation needs to look like today. If it does, we'll have a good chance."
On the concern of getting back to the speed of the game:
"We've got fresh legs, I can tell you that after watching today. The guys were running around and zipping and zapping everywhere. The speed of practice was really good today. Sometimes the execution can get a little sloppy. I didn't see that today, but when you have a layoff that will happen. We've got to make sure we'll take care of the football and do the little things right. Sometimes, not getting hit for a while, you can fumble it more. Those types of things. We're going to work hard on it all week and make sure our players are aware of those issues. Like I said, we just need to practice tomorrow and Wednesday like we did today."
On the importance of this game, and the opportunity to prove something:
"I think there's an opportunity to prove something every game. You guys always ask me and want to get me to say one game is more important than any others. This is just another game on our schedule. They're a good team. It's a great opportunity for us. But this game isn't going to make or break our season. It is fun watching a lot of these teams from our conference and other Group of Five schools win games against Power Five teams. I think our players are always going to have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder when we play games like this and want to come away with one of these wins. We're going to have more opportunities after this one. This game is certainly important. We're playing a really good team. But it's no more important than any other game we'll play this year."
On concerns about the team being too ramped up to play:
"I don't think we'll have a team that's too ramped up. They seem to have had the right level of intensity. I think we have really good leadership. I think we have the right mentality and the right unity as a team right now. I think we'll do a lot better job of responding to a break in the schedule than we did last year."