UCF fell behind early 28-0 before staging a strong rally to pull to within
seven at 28-21. Tech went on to quiet the UCF scoring spree with 21 straight
points before UCF scored the game's final touchdown.
Florida Atlantic started the season with an amazing 20-19 win over Division I-A foe Middle Tennessee State on the road. The Owls are in their third year of football on the Division I-AA level. Last week, the Owls lost in their home opener 45-17 to Valdosta State.
Saturday's game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with live coverage on the UCF ISP Sports Network. The pregame show hits the air at 4 p.m.
Celebrating 25 Years!
From the humble beginnings of borrowed equipment to the bright lights of national television, UCF is proudly celebrating its Silver Anniversary of football in 2003.
The first game left plenty to be desired, as a heavy downpour prior to kickoff flooded a cow pasture turned football field in Dade City, Fla. A soggy crowd, exaggerated at 1,000, watched as the upstarts from Orlando blanked St. Leo, 21-0.
Just 25 years later, fans from across the nation will tune in to watch the Knights on television six times in 2003 including two appearances on national television.
Saturday's game is the first meeting between the two schools in football. Both schools compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference for the majority of their sports.
No. 9 Virginia Tech Stops UCF, 49-28
No. 9 Virginia Tech (1-0) held off a valiant UCF (0-1) rally as the Hokies topped the Golden Knights 49-28 in Blacksburg, Va. The largest crowd in the Commonwealth of Virginia history, 65,115 fans, witnessed the contest at Lane Stadium at Worsham Field.
The game featured both teams going on extended scoring runs as the Hokies started the game with 28 straight points before UCF answered with 21 straight of its own. Virginia Tech responded with a 21-7 run to close out the game.
UCF In Home Openers
The Golden Knights are 17-7 all-time in home openers.
Under head coach Mike Kruczek, UCF is 4-1 in home openers including winning three straight at the Citrus Bowl. The last time UCF dropped its home opener was in 1999 to No. 22 Purdue, 47-13.
UCF Head Coach Mike Kruczek
UCF head coach Mike Kruczek is known as one of the top offensive minds in the nation and his teams have proven it. In his sixth season at the helm, Kruczek is 33-24 and has finished with a winning record in four of the five years he has been head coach at UCF.
Of Kruczek's 24 losses, 17 have come against schools from BCS conferences. During Kruczek's tenure, the Knights have lost to a BCS team by seven or fewer points six times.
Since taking over as the head coach of the program in 1998, Kruczek's teams have finished in the top 15 nationally in passing offense. The Golden Knights ranked sixth in 2002 and ninth in 2001 in the NCAA. In Kruczek's first year at the helm, he led UCF to a sixth place showing in NCAA passing offense.
Prior to being named the head coach of the Golden Knight program in 1998, Kruczek served as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at UCF since 1985.
UCF has had a quarterback finish in the top 20 nationally in total offense each of the past seven years, including three in the top five. A Golden Knight receiver has ranked in the top 20 in the nation in six of the past seven seasons, including four in the top 10.
Kruczek, a former All-American quarterback at Boston College, won two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and 1979.
On This Date
UCF is 3-0 all-time on September 13. The Golden Knights have downed West Georgia in 1986 (34-21) and Southeastern Louisiana in 1985 (27-21).
UCF lost to Carson-Newman in the 1980 season opener, 30-21, at the Citrus Bowl.
The Sept. 13 loss was later forfeited by Carson-Newman and went into the win column for the Knights.
Special teams coach Joe Robinson had quite a debut at Virginia Tech. Robinson, who is the newest member of the coaching staff after serving at Houston in 2002, led the Golden Knights to an impressive start to the year vs. special teams guru Frank Beamer.
Robinson, who dubs his unit the "Wild Knights", got the best of Beamerball.
Matt Prater set a new UCF record with a 55.7 yardage per punt average vs. the Hokies. Prater totaled six punts for 334 yards and had three kicks over 60 yards. The old single-game record for UCF was held by Glenn McCombs, who averaged 49.6 yards per punt vs. Carson-Newman on November 5, 1983.
Prater leads the nation in punting with an average of 55.7 per punt. As a team, the Golden Knights are also first nationally in net punting (55.33).
Prater's 67-yard punt in the first quarter tied for the fifth-longest punt in UCF history. Prater tied Marek Butcher, who kicked a 67-yarder vs. Auburn Sept. 27, 1997. In the second quarter, Prater booted a 71-yard punt, the second longest punt in school history.
Prater also kicked four PATs and boomed three kickoffs out of the end zone for touchbacks.
The Wild Knights also blocked a 21-yard field goal attempt when Paul Carrington swatted away the Hokie attempt.
UCF Tabbed Third In The MAC East
Based on totals from the 42 MAC News Media Association voters, the 2003 Mid-American Conference football season will be the closest competition since the league's divisional play began in 1997. For the first time, Northern Illinois has been tabbed as the favorite to win the West Division and walk off with the league trophy following the championship game December 4, it was announced by the league office.
The East Division has three teams separated by just six points as Miami (Ohio) was predicted as the division champion with 254 points. Marshall was tabbed second (253) and UCF garnered third place with 248 points. The Golden Knights received 11 first-place votes.
UCF performed well in its first season in the MAC last year, finishing second in the East Division with a 6-2 mark. The only blemishes on the Golden Knights' schedule were to the two teams that faced off for the 2002 MAC Championship, Toledo and Marshall.
Northern Illinois, who captured a share of the West title last year (tied with Toledo) and in 2001 (tied with Toledo and Ball State), is the favorite from 15 teams to win the championship game.
Schneider Eyes NCAA's All-Time Best
Ryan Schneider is currently third among NCAA active passers with 9,230 yards.If the senior quarterback can equal his mark of 3,770 yards he threw for in 2002, Schneider will finish second in NCAA history in career passing yards.
With 72 career touchdowns, Schneider is the active leader in the NCAA. If Schneider equals his mark of 31 touchdown passes from a year ago, he would finish his career with 100 career touchdowns. Only four players, Ty Detmer (BYU/121); Tim Rattay (La. Tech/115); Danny Wuerffel (Florida/114) and Chad Pennington (Marshall/100) have reached the century mark.
NCAA Active TD Pass Leaders
1. Ryan Schneider, UCF 72
2. Luke McCown, La. Tech 70
3. Jared Lorenzen, Kentucky 68
NCAA Active Passing Yardage Leaders
1. Luke McCown, La. Tech 9,855
2. Philip Rivers, NC State 9,746
3. Ryan Schneider, UCF 9,230
Schneider On Davey O'Brien List
The Davey O'Brien Foundation announced the preseason watch list for the 2003 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and UCF senior Ryan Schneider was one of the 42 candidates named to the list. The Davey O'Brien Award is given annually to the nation's top college quarterback.
The O'Brien Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in the country for college quarterbacks and is named in honor of the late Davey O'Brien, the All-American and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for Texas Christian University who led the Horned Frogs to the 1938 national championship.
Schneider enters the 2003 campaign as the active leader in college football with 69 career touchdown passes. The senior is also second among active players with 9,027 career passing yards. Schneider is poised to eclipse former UCF All-American Daunte Culpepper in the UCF record books in both career passing yards and touchdowns.
In 2002, Schneider finished third in the nation with 31 touchdown passes. The UCF signalcaller also ranked fourth in the NCAA in pass efficiency and fifth in total offense last year.
Schneider ended the 2002 campaign with 3,770 passing yards, a new single-season record at UCF. He also broke the single-game passing yardage mark with 440 passing yards vs. Syracuse last year.
Schneider On Unitas Watch List
Ryan Schneider was one of 26 quarterbacks announced as candidates for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Of the 26 quarterbacks selected to the 2003 watch list, Schneider was second in passing yards last season with 3,770.
This is the second prestigious award Schneider has been named to in the preseason. The senior signalcaller is also on the watch list for the Davey O'Brien Award.
The award is presented annually to the nation's top college quarterback by the Frank Camp Chapter of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Educational Foundation.
The award is named for Hall of Fame quarterback Unitas, who played at Louisville before his 18-year NFL career with the Baltimore Colts. Unitas died Sept. 11, 2002, at 69.
The nominees were selected by a committee of football experts from across the United States. The committee will choose five finalists on Oct. 22. The winner will be announced during an award presentation in Louisville on Dec. 12.
Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer won the award last year.
Bigby On Nagurski Watch List
The Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America announced the 2003 watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy naming UCF strong safety Atari Bigby as a candidate for the post-season honor. The award is given annually to recognize the top defensive player in college football.
Bigby had a strong showing in the season opener, leading the team with 17 tackles. Bigby totaled 10 solo stops while also making one tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Bigby, who was named as an All-MAC First-Team Defensive selection last season, is one of 36 finalists as identified by the nearly 800 members of the FWAA. He enters his junior season with the Golden Knights and is coming off a sophomore year in which he registered over 100 tackles.
The committee will select a defensive player of the week during the season, with five finalists then being nominated for the award following the 2003 campaign. The trophy will be presented to the winner at a banquet in Charlotte on Dec. 8 and will mark the 11th consecutive year that the FWAA has presented the award.
The award is named after Hall of Famer and University of Minnesota and Chicago Bears star Bronko Nagurski.
UCF On TV In 2003
UCF fans will have plenty of opportunities to view the Golden Knights on television this season. Six games have been scheduled to air on ESPN, ESPN 2 or Sunshine Network with additional games pending.
UCF opened the season on ESPN at No. 9/10 Virginia Tech. The Golden Knights also host Marshall, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN 2 for the first ever national television appearance at home for UCF.
Sunshine Network announced that four UCF football games will be televised live this season on Florida's largest regional sports network.
Additional UCF games may be added to Sunshine's schedule pending determination of the conference-produced "MAC Game of the Week" telecast schedule.
Action kicks off with UCF taking on Syracuse live on September 20, at noon (live in Orlando/Melbourne/Daytona Beach TV market only; repeats statewide at 11 p.m.).
Other UCF games on Sunshine's schedule include: at Kent State on Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. (airs live statewide and repeats Oct. 1, at 10 a.m.); at Ohio on Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. (live in Orlando/Daytona Beach/Melbourne & Tampa/St. Pete TV markets only; repeats statewide 11p.m.); and at West Virginia on Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. (live in Orlando/Melbourne/Daytona Beach & Tampa/St. Pete TV markets only; repeats statewide 11 p.m.).
Play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham will be alongside analyst Brady Ackerman for UCF's games against Syracuse, Kent State and West Virginia.
Schneider Closing In On Daunte
Senior quarterback Ryan Schneider is closing in on several of former UCF All-American Daunte Culpepper's school records. Schneider already broke Culpepper's single-game yardage mark last season vs. Syracuse (440 yards) and single-season record (3,770 yards).
With 72 career touchdown passes, Schneider is the active leader among NCAA quarterbacks and is just 12 shy of Culpepper's mark of 84. The senior signal caller is also the top returning player in the nation in pass efficiency (151.62).
Schneider is also third among active players in career passing yards with 9,230. Schneider needs 2,183 passing yards in 2003, Schneider will eclipse Culpepper as UCF's all-time leader in passing yards.
With his three touchdown passes vs. Virginia Tech, Ryan Schneider tied Daunte Culpepper's school record with at least one touchdown pass in 22 consecutive games. The last time Schneider did not throw a touchdown was Sept. 8, 2001 at Syracuse.
An Offensive Machine In 2002
Mike Kruczek's offense was a machine in 2002, featuring a 3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a pair of 1,000-yard receivers.
Ryan Schneider finished the 2002 campaign with school records in passing yards (3,770) and touchdown passes (31). The 31 touchdown passes were third in the nation.
Junior tailback Alex Haynes became just the fifth back in UCF history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last year with 1,038 yards. Haynes, who ranked sixth in the MAC in rushing, averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry.
Doug Gabriel and Jimmy Fryzel formed the top receiving tandem in school history in 2002. Gabriel finished the year with a school record 1,237 receiving yards while Fryzel totaled 1,126 yards. Gabriel was a fifth round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 2003 NFL Draft while Fryzel signed a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Back-To-Back 1,000 Yard Seasons
Alex Haynes is looking to become just the second running back in UCF history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2003. Last year, Haynes raced for 1,038 yards, the third best figure in single-season school history.
Only Marquette Smith has accomplished that feat with 1,511 rushing yards in 1995 and 1,058 yards in 1994. Those totals rank Smith first and fourth respectively on the single-season rushing list at UCF.
Haynes started the 2003 campaign with a strong showing at Virginia Tech. Haynes carried the ball 10 times for 81 yards and a touchdown vs. the Hokies.
Since 1996, UCF is among the nation's top passing offenses in several categories. The Golden Knights have thrown for 23,614 yards, seventh among all teams since 1996. UCF has also tossed 31 300-yard games (sixth) and five 400-yard games (12th) since the ‘96 campaign.
Despite seven wins, including a 6-2 mark in the MAC East Division to place UCF second, the 2002 campaign could have been much better.
The Golden Knights lost four games by five points or less, including two vs. BCS schools.
In the season opener, UCF lost 27-24 at No. 24 Penn State while Syracuse escaped with a 38-35 win in Orlando on Nov. 2. UCF once led 21-3 vs. the Orangemen before falling to defeat.
The Golden Knights also lost to both teams that played in the MAC Championship game by a combined eight points. Marshall defeated UCF 26-21 in Huntington and Toledo won 27-24 in Orlando.
Haynes On Doak Walker List
The SMU Athletic Forum announced the names of the 39 preseason candidates for the 2003 Doak Walker Award, awarded annually to the nation's top college running back.
Among the field of candidates is UCF junior tailback Alex Haynes. The Orlando native rushed for 1,038 yards in 2002 becoming just the fifth back in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark. For his career, Haynes is eighth in school history with 1,728 yards and is looking to become just the second back at UCF to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
The SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will select eight semifinalists on November 19, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will vote on the winner in late November. The National Selection Committee consists of former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, print and electronic media members and selected special representatives.
The recipient of the 2003 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on ESPN along with other NCFAA member awards on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 11, 2003. The Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet will be held at The Fairmont Hotel in Dallas, Texas, on Thursday, February 12, 2004.
Former Penn State running back Larry Johnson, currently with the Kansas City Chiefs, won the 2002 Doak Walker Award.
The SMU Athletic Forum, the presenting entity for the Doak Walker Award, produces four annual luncheons and is widely regarded as America's preeminent sports luncheon series. Sponsors of the Forum include PricewaterhouseCoopers, American Airlines, The Dallas Morning News, AFLAC, Guaranty Bank and The Texas Rangers.
Scouting Florida Atlantic
Florida Atlantic, an NCAA Division I-AA football program located in Boca Raton, Fla., has only two seasons of football under its belt. The Owls began their third season of play with a 6-15 overall record.
In 2003, FAU topped Middle Tennessee State 20-19 on the road. The upset win over the Division I-A opponent was even more remarkable for the Owls since they completed a 62-yard pass on the last play of the game to seal the win.
Last week in their home opener, the Owls lost 45-17 to Valdosta State.
Several Owls have competed in every game Florida Atlantic has played: Jared Allen, Jordan Roberts, Lee Pasick, Brittney Tellis, Mark Myers, Johnnie Sloan, Todd Poitier, Matt Prudenti, Yrvens Guerrier, Chris Laskowski, Larry Taylor, William Gray, Jordan Roberts and Chris McKinley.
FAU's starting center, George Guffey, is a native of Orlando and a graduate of Dr. Phillips High School. Guffey was voted the 2002 Co-Walk-on MVP for the Owls.
Under the direction of Howard Schnellenberger, Florida Atlantic has achieved a number of "firsts." He secured state approval to begin a football program in just 10 months; faster than any school in history. He has raised over $14 million and signed 24 players in the Owls first recruiting class. The second recruiting class included 32 players, with five listed among the State's top-100.
Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), UCF team staff including coaches and trainers will only release certain information on an injury. UCF will only release if it is a lower body or upper body injury and the player's status for the upcoming game.
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