Prior to BYU traveling to Orlando, Fla. to play the UCF Knights, the story line surrounding both programs was the status of their quarterbacks.
The Cougars needed to adjust after losing Heisman Trophy hopeful Taysom Hill to a devastating knee injury last week against the Utah State Aggies, while the Knights weren’t sure whether or not sophomore Justin Holman would continue to lead their offense after poor play Saturday against the Houston Cougars.
Holman stepped up after being challenged by his head coach, George O’Leary, and the quarterback already completed more passes (15) through two quarters against BYU than he did the previous two games combined (12).
“He’s getting rid of the ball and making the right read,” O’Leary told ESPN prior to heading to the locker room during halftime.
Holman’s play, particularly during the Knights’ first drive of the game, is the difference in the contest right now. The junior signal-caller was on fire to open Thursday night’s game, as the Associated Press’ John Coon noted.
During the game’s opening drive, Holman was 5-of-5 passing for 57 as UCF easily cruised to the first half’s only touchdown. UCF’s signal-caller finished the half 15-of-24 passing for 144 yards, and Holman spread the ball around to eight different receivers.
The quarterback’s biggest mistake came late in the first half as UCF was driving again, but Holman was sacked and fumbled the ball at BYU’s 28-yard line.
The Cougars, meanwhile, haven’t gotten much form their new starting quarterback. Senior Christian Stewart was 10-of-15 passing for 58 yards and an interception.
Whichever team produces better quarterback play in the second half will be the one that claims a much-needed victory on a national stage.