Point/Counterpoint: Easier Schedule? - 1 of 2

While UCF is likely to improve from last year just from gaining experience, will the team's 2009 schedule dictate a jump from sub .500 to a conference title contender? InsideKnights.com staff members Brendan Sonnone and Charlie Bernstein debate whether UCF's 2009 schedule is a little less challenging than last season's.

Point/Counterpoint- Easier Schedule in 2009? Part 1 of 2

UCF might have won two of its final three games, but it might be difficult to erase a disappointing season which ended with a 4-8 record. The early departure of Kevin Smith, injuries and inexperience might have been a large reason for the team's drop-off last year, but a challenging schedule certainly didn't help.


Brendan Sonnone—

I know that at a first glance, UCF's 2009 schedule appears a little more difficult. After all, when UCF heads to Texas in November, the Longhorns could very well be just five victories away from playing for the national title. The Knights will also host a more experienced Miami team and Buffalo, last year's MAC champions.

It's hard to look at those out of conference games and shrug your shoulders and it gets even worse when you look at the C-USA part of the schedule. I'm not going to sell you on an easier schedule though but one that has more winnable games at it.

To begin, a 1-3 record in out-of-conference games is unlikely to repeat itself this year. I think getting a win in Austin would be extremely difficult, but that theoretically accounts for just one loss. A game at home against Buffalo will be a lot easier than a road game against Boston College. I know, I know; the Bulls are going in the right direction and have God's gift to the world, Turner Gill. He's done a great job with the program but the Bulls lose three offensive linemen, three defensive linemen and will also have to break in a new starter at quarterback in Zach Maynard. That's a lot of inexperienced guys that'll have to get it going at Bright House Stadium in September. One more thing, the Bulls might have won eight games, but one of those was due to a last second Hail Mary and three more were in overtime. They also played in a division that had no other teams above .500.

Last year, UCF was just one decent quarterback away from beating Miami. With an offense that returns 10 starters, the Knights might be able to find a way to score on that side of the ball this time, especially while playing at home. People point to Miami being an improved team, but the last time I check, UCF is returning nearly all of its offense and its entire front seven. I'm not guaranteeing a win here, but I don't think UCF should be written off.

In conference, the team must try to rebound from a dismal 3-5 record. With home games against Memphis, Marshall and Tulane, the Knights should be able to get at least three right there. A road game at UAB could make it four if the team is playing for a bowl game in late November.

Going on the road to ECU and Southern Miss won't be easy, but there are some big question marks with the Golden Eagles. Will DeAndre Brown be fully recovered from a broken leg on September 12th? Will Damion Fletcher be eligible to play after being charged with a misdemeanor? Can the team replace NFL caliber players Gerald McRath and Shawn Nelson?

On the road against a Rice squad that is reloading and a home game against Houston means there are two more winnable games on the roster. The only remaining difficult game might be at ECU.

With at least seven or eight very winnable games on the schedule (not including a home game against Samford), UCF is looking a little better off than last year.


STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 FROM CHARLIE BERNSTEIN


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