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Peach Bowl Preview: UCF Wide Receivers

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Man, are these guys paid to give us bulletin board material?

NCAA Football: American Athletic Conference Championship-Memphis at Central Florida Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

These guys won’t stop. I suppose sitting at 12-0 will make anyone feel pretty good, but man, let’s run down the chatter that’s happened so far.

UCF running back Adrian Killins of course started things off with his comments about how Auburn doesn’t have the kind of speed to hang with the Knights.

Then, head coach Scott Frost wondered why Auburn was waiting until the week before Christmas to start practicing for the Peach Bowl. He said that the Knights were way ahead of Auburn in bowl prep.

And now, freshman wide receiver Gabe Davis has said that Auburn’s defense has holes that the Knights can exploit.

Cute.

Gabe Davis may have another thing coming. Auburn’s allowed 400 yards just twice on the season and ranks 9th in the country in scoring defense. The Tigers have holes, sure, but the defense is probably the stronger of the two units. Davis is the fifth-leading receiver this season for UCF, with 25 catches for 353 yards and four touchdowns.

The guys that we’ll need to be watching out for are Tre’Quan Smith, who’s a flat-out player for UCF, and Dredrick Snelson. Smith is by far the go-to guy for the Knights with 54 catches on the year for 1082 yards, averaging right at 20 yards per reception with thirteen touchdowns, but Snelson’s pretty solid too, catching 42 passes for 656 yards and seven scores.

UCF boasts nine guys that have double-digit catches this season. Compare that to just six Auburn players with double-digit receptions. However, the good news for the Tigers is that while UCF slings the ball around, Auburn’s pass defense has been playing at an elite level this year.

Ole Miss threw for 346 yards on Auburn, but that’s their entire offense, and the Rebels were behind the entire time. Other than that, the next-highest passing yardage total against Auburn this year came at Missouri, when the pass-happy Tigers threw for 216 yards. Only LSU, Texas A&M, and Louisiana-Monroe even passed the 200-yard mark.

Suffice it to say, if the Knights do put up some passing numbers on Auburn, it’ll be an anomaly, and one of two things have happened. Either it’s a copy of the Ole Miss game, and the Tigers are giving up the short pass but keeping UCF behind the sticks, or Auburn’s defense completely breaks down and UCF has a field day. The latter would be a total shock to me and many others.

Aside from Smith, Snelson, and Davis, Jordan Akins and Otis Anderson each have over 25 catches on the year, and they’ve combined for six touchdowns as well. Akins is the tight end that’s very involved in the passing game, while everyone aside from Smith are fairly young. It’s possible that the Knights have gotten wrapped up in their own success and don’t have an idea of what they’ll be facing in the Auburn defense, and so it’s up to Kevin Steele and company to make sure that the young UCF wideouts understand after the game exactly what they were up against.

Four days until kickoff, War Eagle!