The Central Florida and Memphis football teams postponed their Sept. 8 matchup due to Hurricane Irma, which was projected to hit the U.S. mainland late Sept. 10.

After telling his team the game was too dangerous to play, Central Florida coach Scott Frost encouraged his in-state players to go home to check in on family members. Almost half the team left the campus.

In the aftermath of the Category 4 hurricane that caused at least 42 deaths in Florida, property destruction and loss of power, Central Florida also missed its Sept. 16 matchup with Georgia Tech.

So, Central Florida enters its Saturday game against Maryland having not competed in 23 days. Given the emotional toll inflicted by the storm, the Knights are eager to return to the field.

“We’re just excited to play again,” Frost said during a Monday teleconference.

Irma didn’t strike Maryland, but Terps players from the affected region struggled to focus leading up to their Sept. 9 game against Towson.

Defensive lineman Kingsley Opara is from Jacksonville, and he has sisters in Tampa Bay and Miami. He called the hurricane a distraction from his normal routine and said he spent the week before facing Towson concerned about his family’s safety.

Opara usually calls his mother in Jacksonville before each game to say a prayer. His parents watch every contest on the Big Ten network. But because the storm knocked out power in the area, Opara could not speak with his mother before the Terps played the Tigers, and his parents missed the game.

Still, Opara recorded three tackles in Maryland’s 63-17 victory.

“Thank god everything isn’t too bad,” Opara said, “but for everyone in the state of Florida all my prayers go out to them.”


Maryland entered a bye week after defeating Towson, something Opara used to reset his mind and recover from soreness that built up in the Terps’ first two matchups.

Most weeks, the senior receives a massage on Thursday and goes to Rockville with teammates for a cryotherapy session on Friday. With time off, however, Opara underwent cryotherapy three times.

Cyrotherapy applies extreme cold to players’ bodies to help repair damaged tissue. Opara, as well as running backs Ty Johnson, Lorenzo Harrison and Jake Funk view the procedure as essential to remaining healthy. They learned about the treatment from former Terps wide receiver Levern Jacobs.

“I swear by it,” Opara said. “I’m very superstitious, so I go about every week the same way.”

Coach DJ Durkin said it was odd to have a week off so early in the campaign. But given the impact of Irma, as well as an accumulation of injuries against Texas and Towson, he appreciated the extra week to prepare for Central Florida.

“They took the right approach,” Durkin said. “We had some really good practices, got better. A couple guys that may have been dinged up here or there took advantage of the treatment and rest time.”