One on One with Coach McFarland

Coach Robert McFarland is in his second season as UCF's offensive coordinator. Knights News caught up with Coach McFarland to get his analysis on the Knights offense. Inside, coach McFarland talks about Alex Haynes, Darcy Johnson, and the progress of Dontavius Wilcox.

Q: Would you talk about the offense over the spring practice? 

A: We started it off kind of slow.  I think a lot of that was due to our inexperience on the offensive line, the youth there, and the receivers.  As spring went along, I though our quarterbacks and receivers got on the same page. Some guys really stepped up in those areas.  Our TE situation, we really feel comfortable with the development of Darcy Johnson over the spring and I thought the offensive line improved as we got going and started to communicate a little bit more.  It was just some of the experience that kicked in.  They were getting many reps and so many plays that eventually they got better and their natural ability start to taking over. That was why we recruited them here.  The end of spring ended the way we were hoping it would.  I though we were very effective offensively and had a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things in a lot of difference formations with the personnel.  We find out if we're limited.  There are things that we can do as well and be creative, and what we want to do offensively.  Overall for spring we were very pleased the way it ended up for us.   


Q: In your opinion, who is the leader of the offense? 

A: On the offense as the whole, you have to definitely say Ryan Schneider.  Schneider has been the leader for us over the last two to three years, and I think he has to pick it up now. 


Q: Who is the backup QB? 

A: We went in the spring with Brandon Sumner and Jon Rivera battling back and forth.  Each one had his kind of nick and bang as they got through the spring.  Coming out right now, Rivera was the number two guy for most of the year, last year for us.  I think he is still there right now but is really not much over Brandon so it's still a close race I think coming in.  The two guys are competing.  You'll see a big challenge for them when they are coming back ther.e to continue to fight for that role and close the gap of separation between them and Ryan Schneider. 


Q: What parts of the offense are you looking to improve on and if the running game needs some improvement as well?  

A: We felt that at the end of the season last year our running game started to become more productive.  We felt a lot more comfortable running the ball and we kind of got in the groove in the last half of the season.  That is something we'd like to establish a lot earlier than that, try to improve on for the beginning of the year.  Hopefully we can get that momentum going into the season.  The kids are excited because they felt pretty good the last half of the season running the ball as well.  I think Alex Haynes getting his thousand yards was a big boost and is a confidence builder for us and now the kids are talking about 1500 yards.  We're hopping to be able to move the football more and be effective with it.


Q: Alex Haynes is a bright spot for the team. Would you talk about his contributions? 

A: Alex is going to be a junior for us next year.  He is really a kid that shows so much of leadership and has a leadership quality that comes out with him.  He is defiantly the team favorite, a coach's favorite, and I think the public favorite.  He's just a young man who comes here and does things that you would ask him to be done.  He does it with a lot of class and a lot of character.  Like I said, he got a thousand yards for us last year, and we're hoping to get more of that this year.  He is the one that's constantly improving himself.  He works harder than anybody I can say, in that weight room and working on conditioning, studying film, and trying to get a better and better grasp on the offense.  His approach and the professionalism he shows is definitely a bright spot on our football team, and it rubs off on the other guys as well.


Q: TB Dontavius Wilcox appeared to have a good spring.  He ran the ball well and very hard at defensive players.  Is he going to have a chance to run the ball more as the backup to Alex Haynes? 

A: Wilcox came through and he did a good job for us.  We expect a lot of good thing out of him.  Once again, just experience will help him in everything.  The more reps he'll get, the more things he will be able to do, and hopefully he'll give Alex a little break with him in there, which is something we didn't feel very comfortable with last year. And then of course the signing of P. J. Smith has helped us. We think he's going to be a guy who will come in here and really contribute for us. 


Q: Is Brian Miller going to play TE permanently? 

A: Yes, Brian is a tight end for us.  Right now, he's recovering and healing, and hopefully things will keep moving forward for him, getting ready for next season, his senior year.


Q: Speaking of the TE, are you and head Coach Mike Kruczek planning to have the TE involved in the offense more often? 

A: I think you saw last year we started to involve the TE a lot more as the season got on, and we got people healthy and found out that that was the effective formation to set forth  personnel wise.  That is something we would like to do.  I think the addition of Darcy Johnson gives us many more variables now with his athleticism and receiving ability which we were able to find out about out in spring.  That is one great thing that if you also want to talk about, came out of spring. I have to say it would be the ability for our tight-end's to be a threat and more of a force with the ball.


Q: Since spring practice has ended and the coaching staff has no contact with the players in terms of organizing practices.  What do players do during the summer in preparation for the upcoming season? 

A: We're not allowed to organize working them out until August.  They get together and they work one another out and do drills with one another.  They basically have to coach themselves.  Just the fact that they're out there, using the language and using the set of formation, trying to communicate with one another; just developing the rapport is a positive for you.  They'll be doing that all summer long, besides getting in that weight room and going to school as well.  They all are athletes and competitors.  They're not lazy guys who are supposedly sitting on the couch.  If you throw something out there at them to compete with one another, it does not take them long to get off that couch to do it. I think they'll have some good times this summer.


Q: UCF will start its season at Virginia Tech on a Sunday afternoon.  Would you tell me how excited you and the rest of the team are about the possibility of playing in front of a national TV audience on ESPN? 

A: For us to have an opportunity to play them, especially on national television, is wonderful.  And to expose our university and our program as well is definitely a plus for us.  The players get excited about it.  Everyone get to see them play; not just those people who make the trip. So it's a great opportunity for all the players, the fans, and the Central Florida community. quick links:

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