VIDEO: Frost talks ECU
UCF's American Athletic Conference opener will be at one of their biggest rivals - East Carolina.
The Knights and Pirates have a history that dates back to the 1990s with games becoming a yearly occurrence when UCF joined Conference USA in 2005. ECU has typically had the advantage in games played in Greenville, but one notable exception is the last visit in 2014 when Justin Holman launched a Hail Mary touchdown to Breshad Perriman as time expired to win the game and clinch a second-consecutive conference championship for UCF.
Scott Frost obviously wasn't there for the previous games, but recognizes the challenges awaiting them on Saturday. ECU, in the first year coached by former Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery, comes into the game with a 2-2 record and a win earlier in the season against NC State. They nearly beat South Carolina as well.
Here's what Frost had to say at his weekly press conference on Monday:
On who would start between Holman and Milton if both healthy, and if Milton is the continued starter, would he interchange quarterbacks with Holman?
"You're assuming both quarterbacks are healthy? I'm not going to talk about which ones are healthy and which aren't. But we feel good about how McKenzie has played. We feel good about how Justin has played. If and when we're at a point where both guys are healthy we'll make a decision."
On putting a team away like they did at FIU:
"I think the defense was the key to us getting out in front and then closing the door on them. Offense did a lot better job again. Taking care of the ball, being efficient in executing. When your defense is getting off the field that often it gives your offense a lot of chances. Our defense has played really well for four games. We need to keep it up. Coach Chinander and the rest of the staff and all the guys on defense deserve a lot of credit."
On where the team is right now:
"This is a different team than the one I saw when I got here. Today was our best practice ever. Our best Monday ever. These guys are buying in. They're understanding. I think last Saturday was huge for this program because it starts to give us our confidence. I think these guys recognize and see what it looks like when everybody plays like they are supposed to and does their job to go out and beat a team that beat us last year, and go out and dominate like that. I think the guys are starting to understand what it can look like if we continue to improve like we are."
More on the best practice ever comment:
"Our energy was great today. Our execution was really good. Usually Monday practices are a little sloppy. You're installing stuff on both sides of the ball. You're getting new looks. And it was really clean today. The guys are starting to understand concepts on both sides. They're starting to understand what we're trying to do. The enthusiasm and the effort is really good. We just need to keep that going and keep on the trajectory we're on."
On the scoring drives being three minutes or less:
"Three minutes or less for a drive is good if you're scoring. If you're not scoring, you want to be out on the field a little longer. Just everything worked Saturday. Some games are going to be like that. Some games aren't. When we execute, it gives us a good chance to have those kinds of things happen. Our defense got off the field. Our offense made drives work and finished them. That leads to a good game. I'm not sure in assessing where we are right now. I'm not that familiar with the league. I've watched a lot of tape on everybody, but until you're on the field with other teams in our league, you're not real familiar with how we compare to those people. But I know our guys are confident right now. We look forward to those challenges."
On McKenzie Milton:
"McKenzie got better. I think the big thing with him was eliminating the mistakes. It was great to see him throw a couple balls away, escape and do smart things with the ball. He still made some great plays. He's really creative and he's a playmaker so those things are going to happen. But he didn't make any dumb plays, or freshman plays is a better way to put it. That's what he needs to keep going."
On the running game, averaging close to 200 yards per game:
"We've got to be able to run the ball. And when we run the ball it opens everything else up. The guys are understanding the schemes now. Coach Austin has done an unbelievable job with the o-line. We feel like we've got a bunch of backs that are dangerous enough to help us in the running game. The receivers are starting to get involved and block a lot better. It's a team effort to get that run game going. Run game opens up pass game. There will be a day around here when we're throwing it to open up the run and putting the ball up a lot of times. Right now, with a quarterback and some young receivers and backs, it's great we can lean on the run game."
On spreading the ball around to different players and keeping everyone happy:
"This offense isn't built to highlight any one person. It's built to get to the ball to the person who's open and get the ball to the person in space. Sometimes a guy is going to touch the ball eight, 10 times in a game. Other times it will be two. Hopefully it happens at the right time when that guy has a chance to make a big play. I think Jordan Akins is a good example of that this year. He hasn't gotten 20, 25 catches this year, but when he's gotten them the ball was supposed to go there and they ended up being big plays for us. I think the key is everybody understanding it's team first and not being selfish and being okay with 10 touches or two touches as long as the team does well. Defenses are going to take certain things away and that's going to lead to other guys getting the ball."
On East Carolina:
"East Carolina is a good team. They've done a good job. They've got some big, strong guys. I'm impressed with their personnel. They do a good job of defense. They take away the run game, so I think that's going to be a real challege for us. We've run the ball better. This might be the biggest challenge we've had to try to continue running the ball. They're going to pack the box and run to the ball hard. They're creative on offense. Have a couple really good receivers and some guys that can run it too. This is a big challenge. I'm excited to see where we stack up against people in our conference. I think ECU is one of the better teams in our conference."
Whether playing teams like Michigan can help prepare UCF for conference play:
"I think the key was getting out of games like Michigan and Maryland with confidence, with enthusiasm and healthy. We managed to do that. I don't think we'll play a team as good as Michigan all year. So that was a good test for us. That's a really good football team. Maryland played well against us and is a good football team. We need those experiences to play people like Houston and people like East Carolina and the rest of our conference going forward. I'd always rather win a game than lose it, but sometimes those experiences are healthy particularly when you're trying to grow."
On Adrian Killins' impact:
"I remember about a week and a half into fall camp, AK went down kind of awkardly and we were worried about him. He twisted his ankle a little bit. It seems like right when he got back from that, a switch flipped on and he figured out how to practice, how to go full speed and he was a completely different guy. We could see this coming. I love having guys that can run like him in this offense. I wish I had seven of them. We've got some really good players, but he definitely has elite speed. He's a big play waiting to happen. We're going to continue to find creative ways to get him the ball and make sure he gets enough touches to continue making big plays."
On the challenges of playing pass-happy ECU:
"Our DBs are a veteran group. I think they've really spearheaded what we've done on defense. They're looking forward to the challenge. ECU has some tremendous receivers and have done a good job throwing the football. I think they have really good schemes and good players. We've going to have to be on our game for sure, on defense in particular in the secondary, to try to limit those big plays."
On freshman WR Dredrick Snelson:
"Dredrick is a great player and he's going to be a really good player around here. He needs to keep learning and keep pushing forward and improving. Lot of freshmen are getting a chance to play this year. True freshmen for us. I think that's going to bode well for us in the future. Everybody on the team has to keep moving forward and improving."
On the depth at RB:
"We're hopeful for Jawon. We'll see where it goes with him. But we had a bunch of backs play well in that game. Adrian, Dontravious played a whale of a game. I feel great about C.J. Jones and Taj (McGowan) going in and getting us yards too. It helps to have a stable of guys that you think can gain yards for you in the backfield."
On the importance of conference play:
"We're going to treat this one just like the last one and just like the next one. I think we've got a big challenge. I think the guys will naturally know this is a conference game. They're going to be more familiar with this team we're about to play than maybe some of the out-of-conference opponents. But our preparation is going to be the same and our attention to what's going on is going to be the same."
On watching other AAC teams:
"I flip through the channels on Saturday and watch some of the games. Watched a little bit of South Florida and Florida State. Seen a little bit of SMU and TCU on Friday night. I try to watch our league a little bit when I can. I think everybody looks better live than they do on coaches' cut, so when you watch them on TV you get a little nervous. I think it's a strong league. I think it's really even, top to bottom. I think every team in this league is dangerous and can week any week. You've got to come with your best game every week in a league like this."
On ECU coach Scottie Montgomery:
"I know Scottie well. We have a good mutual friend. He's done a really good job in his whole career. You can see his team is playing hard and fast. I'm sure ECU is going to be a challenge for a lot of people this year and down the road."
On Arnold Palmer's passing:
"It's not very often somebody can transcend their sport, be great at their sport and have an impact outside of their sport. Arnold is one of those guys. I've only been to two professional golf tournaments live in my life and one of them was at Bay Hill. Just so much respect for a guy that can be such a great athlete in their sport and also an ambassador for other things. I know he's done a lot for the Orlando community. It's a tough loss and our thoughts are with his family... I went to (Bay Hill) when I was living in Tampa, so it was probably spring of 2004."