Effort There For Knights

An analyst or in this case football writer could waste several hours in the day trying to figure out what's wrong with the football program at UCF, which has earned a 2-7 record this season. Talent, leadership, experience, skill, and resolve have all been issues for UCF this year, as they have seemingly wasted a wealth of defensive talent.

One thing that certainly hasn't been a factor in the losing has been the effort level and the level of character of the players.

Despite going through what seemingly is a "Knight-mare" season, the team has stayed positive and dissension between offense and defense has certainly not reared its ugly head, at least not in the public.

"It's bad because I think defensively and special teams have probably played well enough to win a lot of games this year," said Coach O'Leary. "I think offensively it's a thing where they've actually hurt some of the game because of turnovers and possession time."

With the offense continually putting the defense in horrible position, and the defense more than doing their job to help the team, UCF has stayed united.

"My job is to make sure the coaches keep coaching, and the kids keep a `coach me, coach' attitude," O'Leary explained. "As long as the kid is making good effort, then let's coach them. But if the kid isn't giving good effort then get someone else out there. That is why when I talk to the team I have to make sure there is no finger pointing going on. They have been really outstanding about that. When I first got here there were a bunch of roaches around. They wanted to finger point and do all that, but that isn't how you win."

There is just too much youth and inexperience on offense for the Knights to succeed this year. Still, Coach O'Leary is confident about the way the future looks—

"I'm not making any excuses, but I think that we have growing pains in that area. Do I see improvement? Yeah, I do, but not the yard by yard improvement, just inches. Again, the margin of error on offense is very slim."

The coach has pointed to a lack of senior leadership on the offensive side of the ball to explain some of the struggles.

"We don't have it (leadership) on offense, there's only one senior (Pat Brown). Pat doesn't say a lot. You know he's been in here and it's usually just two words, yes or no. He's not that kind of person and that's really where we missed Kevin (Smith), Kyle (Israel), and Josh Sitton. We didn't graduate a lot, but those guys were the concrete, they really attacked things. We don't have those guys yet and that stuff comes with confidence and success."

Injuries are part of the game and injuries have cost the Knights. Not so much in terms of talent, but certainly experience.

"There's only one senior starter," O'Leary explained. "I've never spoken about injuries, we've lost six or seven guys that played a lot that are out. This has been a tough year for injuries as far as losing guys. Moreso from a leadership standpoint as far as Rabazinski and Ross, those guys played a lot of downs for us and now we're replacing them with freshmen or redshirt freshmen that don't have any experience."

Youth and inexperience at key positions, plus a lack of success equates to late-game collapses for the Knights, and thus a 2-7 record. UCF will likely be an underdog in their final three games of the year and although they appear to have virtually nothing to play for, they will be trying to take some momentum into the offseason. If some of the young guys can find success, they will be able to call upon that success next year and avoid the late-game collapses.

"I explained it to the team, some guys make things happen and some guys watch things happen," O'Leary said. I think right now we have a lot of young guys on offense that are watching things happen instead of making things happen."

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