Tigers Coach Excited About Playing UCF Program

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Here are comments from Tigers coach Justin Fuente as Memphis gets ready to host Central Florida on Saturday at the Liberty Bowl in a 3:30pm kickoff.

Opening Statement:

“Briefly about the off week, we had a really good week of workouts. Our kids came out and went to work with some good emotion. We focused on some young player development and some older guys getting a little bit of rest. We focused on scheme experimentation and we went back to fundamentals. I thought we got a lot out of the week not playing Saturday. We play a very good opponent this week in UCF here at the Liberty Bowl. I really enjoy playing this team because I think they are very well coached, disciplined and in a lot of ways their program is what we aspire to be on the field – just fundamentally sound and tough. Obviously they’ve been pretty consistent. They’re very sound in special teams, kicking game and offense. They can run and throw the ball, and can really run around on defense. I think our kids are looking forward to the challenge of playing really good people that have kind of made a little bit of noise on the national stage.”

On what impresses him the most about UCF:

“I think the thing that jumps out at you the most as a coach is their sound scheme. They’re always where they’re supposed to be. They play awfully hard. They’re fundamentally sound, good tacklers. They run around well. They’re a very well-rounded squad. They have good players but as a team they’re pretty dangerous.”

On the steps the team took last year against UCF:

“Obviously, they beat us here at home, but I felt like a little switch went off for us from a physical standpoint. I felt like we were at least trying to compete, trying to match the physical level of another physical football program, which is UCF. In the middle of the game, while we made mistakes and they made plays and they beat us, I felt like we had taken a step forward, even though it was a small one, in the intensity, competitiveness and the physical nature of playing the game. I even said it on the headset in the middle of the game, ‘Our guys are starting to figure it out’.”

On what he likes about the UCF program:

“All I know is what I see on film. It’s not like years ago I went and visited there and coach (George) O’Leary showed me what goes on behind the scenes. From the outside, I watch them play and I think they try to play the game the right way. They’re fundamentally sound and they play hard, smart and tough. You very rarely see them hurt themselves or see them make silly mistakes.”

On how much football he watches on an off week:

“There’s no escaping it. During the week it’s pretty busy. We gave the kids off Saturday so Saturday was more of a family day. We watched some ball at our house. I got the (UCF) game obviously so we did a little bit of work to prepare. On Sunday night, we had a really good practice at the Liberty Bowl. Friday we get to go watch some high school games. You don’t play a game but you still have your hand in football virtually every single day.”

On if the bye week came at a good time:

“Yeah I think it came at a great time. We’ve got another three-game block. We have a pretty interesting challenge. UCF here at home, Houston on the road and they have two weeks to prepare for us. Then we play SMU here and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, they have two weeks to prepare for us as well. That’s a pretty dynamic challenge between the quality of opponents and their ability to have a little time off.”