UCF Mid-Season Report Card

It's not quite the middle of the season, but with the bye week giving us some time to think, Inside Knights decided to break down how the team has done five games into the 2009 campaign. There has been some good aspects and bad aspects so far and the staff at InsideKnights.com analyzes how every position has fared thus far and what's in store for the team as the season progresses.

Offense: C+

Things have gotten better for UCF, but the Knights still have a long way to go. The team finally got into the top 100 (100th overall) in offense, which is a vast improvement from last year, when the team finished dead last. The Knights have been able to get on the board consistently (23 points per game) but the team has also left too many points off the board by not converting in the red zone.

Quarterback: B-

Thru the entire spring and summer there was every indication that it would be Rob Calabrese's job to lose and lose it he did. The sophomore quarterback has potential and his versatility was a plus in Charlie Taaffe's offense, but a 45 percent completion rate to start the first two games of the season along with two key fumbles in a loss to Southern Miss forced the staff to switch to senior transfer Brett Hodges. Since he entered the lineup, Hodges has been efficient for the most apart. Aside from a deceptive four-interception performance against ECU, Hodges has been a breath of fresh air, as he's arguably the best quarterback UCF has had in years. He's thrown six touchdowns and as many interceptions this season, but he's completed over 61 percent of his passes and has been effective on the ground as well.

Running Back: B

Brynn Harvey has gotten progressively better through the season and the grade is based on where Harvey can take his game by the end of the year. The true sophomore started off slow last season too so he might just be warming up for another big finish. Ranked 16th in the nation in rushing yards per game, Harvey has run for 536 yards on the season and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. In the first two games of the year, Harvey ran a little too high and he didn't explode through holes but he's gotten more aggressive as of late and a 219-yard performance against Memphis is proof that he is a back you can rely on. The problem that Harvey has had is that he hasn't consistently been a strong short-yardage back and he knows he needs to get better at getting tough yards. Another concern is the depth behind Harvey. No running back has really stepped up behind him and the staff doesn't want Harvey to have to carry the ball 30 times a game on average.

Wide Receiver: C

This group has been phenomenal at times, but inconsistencies are stilling rearing their ugly head in the window. Kamar Aiken has epitomized the problems the receivers have had as he's had multiple games in which he's dropped a pass but has also made a highlight reel catch. Rocky Ross has also made some timely catches but he too has been plagued by the dropsies. In UCF's last game against Memphis, the Knights started Jamar Newsome and A.J. Guyton for the dinged up Aiken and Ross, and that duo was impressive. If Newsome and Guyton keep it up, they might get a chance to be full-time starters. True frosh Quincy McDuffie has been impressive too, especially on special teams. He is a special player who has the speed to make a difference in every single game. While this group is on the way up, it's hard to grade them any higher right now until they routinely do their primary job, which is to catch the ball.

Offensive Line: C+

There's no doubt that this year's unit is an upgrade from last season but the starters still have room for improvement. Jah Reid has arguably been the most improved player on the team this year, at least early on. He has been dominant at times and looks to be putting it all together. Cliff McCray is also starting to get back in shape and center Ian Bustillo has been reliable. The left side of the offensive line appears to be a little behind the curve. Abre Leggins hasn't been bad but Nick Pieschel has been visibly beaten on numerous occasions. He has the ability to be a good player but he'll need to be more consistent to get this grade up.

Defense: B

The unit ranks 51st in the nation in total defense, which is good for third in the conference. The Knights have also only given up 20 points per game, which is second in the conference. It looks like the defense is starting to find its identity as the team has been experimenting with different rotations. Tackling has been a bit of problem and that's probably the biggest concern going forward.

Defensive Line: A-

It starts with Torrell Troup, who has been as good as expected this year. He's getting plenty of help though, as different players are stepping up. Bruce Miller and Jarvis Geathers both have 4.5 sacks, and David Williams has also been stout at defensive end. Travis Timmons has had his bright spots too but the depth at defensive tackle is thin and some younger players need to step up and help get Troup and Timmons some breaks.

Linebacker: B

Cory Hogue has had 40 tackles on the season and Lawrence Young is right behind him with 38. Hogue has been stout inside but he's been exposed some when he's been put in space but overall, he's had a positive impact. Young has been a playmaker, logging 6 tackles for a loss on the year along with an interception. Jordan Richards was having a decent year too but lost a week against Memphis with a concussion but he should be back soon. The group has to tackle better too with teams like Miami and Texas on the horizon.

Secondary: C

Aside from Derrick Hallman, the group has been lacking. Hallman is a pure playmaker but he might get more reps at linebacker if Richards' injury lingers. Hallman is an emotional leader and he is tied for the team's lead in tackling with Hogue. The other safety position has been spotty, as Michael Greco and Reggie Weams have shared reps at free safety. However, neither has been impressive but freshman Kemal Ishmael made his debut last week. He could switch to free safety if Hallman moves back to linebacker. Corner has been inconsistent too. True freshman Josh Robinson has made some big plays for UCF but he's whiffed on far too many tackles and other teams have picked on him. While he leads the team with 27 unassisted tackles, that may not be a good thing for a corner. Darrin Baldwin and Justin Boddie have shared playing time at the other corner spot too but neither has outright won the position although we are high on Boddie's potential.

Special Teams: B+

The coverage and return units have been great. The Knights rank ninth in the nation in kick return coverage yardage and 16th in punt return coverage yardage and the return teams have been equally impressive. Blake Clingan has had his worst season statically so far, as his average has dropped around four yards per punt. The kicking game has improved after a rough start after Nick Cattoi took over. He's made 81 percent of his field goals on the season and has made some long distance field goals of 50, 46 and 44 yards. If he doesn't have any performances like he did against ECU (0/2) the rest of the way, the special teams should keep its high grade at season's end.

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