UCF Knights vs. Samford Bulldogs
Location: Bright House Networks Stadium (Orlando, Fla.)
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Record: UCF- 0-0; Samford- 0-0
UCF- The Knights will look to bounce back after a disappointing 2008 season. Just one year after winning the C-USA title, UCF's offense struggled mightily as the unit was ranked last in the nation. Returning 10 starters on offense, things are looking better for the Knights are they have displayed a new-found sense of confidence this summer.
Samford- In their first year in the challenging SOCON conference, the Bulldogs didn't disappoint as the team went 6-5 overall and 4-4 in conference play. Samford will look to build on last year's success and the program appears to be on the way up, as it returns several key players, including tailback Chris Evans.
UCF Offense vs. Samford Defense:
UCF- The Knights only had to worry about replacing Pat Brown at left tackle this offseason and everyone else is intact. The offense was dismal last season but a year of experience should do wonders for the Knights, and the addition of offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe already appears to being paying dividends. The Knights will use a variety of formations and schemes in hopes to play to their strengths. Rob Calabrese will get the nod as the team's starting quarterback and he will have a healthy group of receivers to throw to for the first time in over a year. Brynn Harvey will likely be the focal point of the offense against the Bulldogs, as the Knights will try to ride the slashing-style back to victory.
Samford- The Bulldogs might a difficult time stopping a physical UCF offensive line, as they return two starters up front in tackle Patrick Hatcher (6'3", 280 lbs.) and end John Michael Clay (6'5", 265 lbs.) Jason Gaines is likely going to be the other defensive tackle and he weighs below 300 lbs. as well, so the Bulldogs must use strong technique to protect their linebackers. Bryce Smith is Samford's only returning backer, but he's a good one as he had 92 tackles and five picks last season. Jamael Lett is also the lone starter coming back in the secondary and he didn't log any interceptions last season.
Key Matchup- UCF's offensive line vs. Samford's defensive line- The additions of Moose Robinson (6'3", 306 lbs.), Cliff McCray (6'2", 307 lbs.) and Abre Leggins (6'4", 317 lbs.) to the lineup should help with UCF's tenacity, size and talent problems up front. The group has looked good this summer and the Bulldogs will have to hold their ground if they don't want the Knights to gash them.
UCF Defense vs. Samford Defense:
Samford- The Bulldogs have some nice firepower on this side of the ball. It all starts with Chris Evans, who is a load at 6'0", 215 lbs. and is as productive as he is big. Now a junior, Evans has surpassed the 1,000 yards in both of his seasons at Samford. Dustin Taliaferro is a rare commodity; an efficient youngster at quarterback. As a true freshman, Taliaferro completed 67 percent of his passes and threw for 13 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He will have some targets to throw to as well in Riley Hawkins and Brock Johnson. Both are very quick players who can find seams in the secondary and get into the end zone.
UCF- Up front, the Knights will be a force against most teams this season. Torrell Troup is a beast at defensive tackle and might be one of the best unrecognized players in America. He will team with Bruce Miller to create a formidable tackle/end duo. UCF returns starters Cory Hogue and Lawrence Young at linebacker and the return of the oft-injured Jordan Richards will add a spark to the front seven. All the members of UCF's secondary will get their first starts ever as defensive backs on Saturday.
Key Matchup- Samford's receivers vs. UCF's cornerbacks: The Bulldogs have nice experience amongst their receivers and the Knights can't say the same about their corners. Justin Boddie and Darin Baldwin are both extremely athletic players with decent size, but they must play smart through the game with burners like Hawkins and Johnson across from them. If UCF gets beat deep once or twice, the Bulldogs might find some momentum and will hang in the game.
UCF Game Preview- Samford Bulldogs
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