Many believe UCF coach Scott Frost is at the top of UF athletic director Scott Stricklin’s wish list to replace former coach Jim McElwain.
With that in mind, let’s take a detailed look at how Frost and his unbeaten Knights – who were the highest-ranked Group of Five team in last week’s initial College Football Playoff rankings – performed in Saturday’s game at SMU.
UCF held off the Mustangs to go to 8-0. SMU fell to 6-3; the Mustangs are coached by Chad Morris, who also is candidate to move up to a Power Five job.
Frost did something at the end of the first half that stood out – something Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer might’ve tried, but certainly not Will Muschamp or McElwain.
UCF took over at its 30-yard line with 12 seconds left and two timeouts. Take a knee and go to the half up 21-14, right?
Frost was bold. UCF easily executed a 12-yard pass that took six seconds. The Knights then connected on a 21-yard pass to SMU’s 37 with one second remaining.
Frost elected to try a 54-yard field goal. It was no good. Still, Frost’s decision-making was brilliant.
This is the mindset that allows a team to rank first in the country in scoring. It sends the perfect message to the whole team.
Another example of Frost’s management that impressed me came later in the game. SMU scored to cut the lead to 28-24 with 1:17 left in the third quarter.
Some teams would start to get tight. UCF didn’t. On second-and-7 from UCF’s 28, the Knights hit a 63-yard pass to SMU’s 9. UCF players then raced down the field (there was no danger of a replay) and snapped the ball with 23 seconds still on the play clock. I loved it. SMU wasn’t ready and the next play was 7-yard pass play to the 2. On second-and-goal, the Knights ran for a yard, then got stuffed and faced a fourth down from the 3. Frost showed a rational side by taking the short field goal to extend the lead back to seven at 31-24.
This showed me Frost is aggressive but not reckless. There’s a dramatic difference.
Frost projected a cool, calm demeanor throughout. That was especially noticeable since his wife, Ashley, was due to give birth to their first child at any minute. She was three days overdue on Saturday. Frost had said he would leave the game to fly home on a private charter if he got the call that Ashley was going into labor.
Think about the pressure of the game combined with such a personal distraction.
It never showed. Frost never projected any sense of anger or panic, despite UCF having a season-high three turnovers (the Knights had just five coming in) and five penalties.
Frost was collected at all times.
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