First Look: UCF
East Carolina’s heartbreaking senior day loss to Central Florida on the last-minute Hail Mary last season won’t soon be forgotten by either fan base. However, Pirate fans will be pleased to know that ECU has a chance to exact revenge on their conference foes, taking on the Knights in their senior day on Nov. 19 in a Thursday night, nationally televised affair. Breshad Perriman, the man who hauled in the improbable end-zone touchdown to ungracefully end the Dowdy-Ficklen careers of all-time greats Shane Carden and Justin Hardy is no longer a Knight. Perriman is just one of UCF’s top-five receivers to have departed last season. Primarily a strength for the Knight’s high-octane offense of a season ago, UCF will be forced to adjust to new faces. In total, 2,666 receiving yards from last season must be replaced. True sophomore receiver Jordan Akins serves as one of the Knights’ top wide outs and has just 12 catches to his name. Behind him, there are only two upperclassmen on the roster — junior’s Hayden Jones and Taylor Oldham. The inexperienced receiving core will likely be a cause for adjustment early on but by the time the Pirates roll into Orlando, the Knights and head coach George O’Leary will have the position figured out. Junior quarterback Justin Holman returns to follow up his 2,952-yard, 23-touchdown performance of a season ago. He asserted himself as one of the conference’s best passers in just his first season as a full-time starter. Holman will no longer have the benefit of a deep and experienced receiving cast but his experience allows him to take the reigns of an offense that averaged 28.1 points per game last year and outscored its opponents by 117. Last year’s starting running back William Stanback returns to aid Holman in leading the offense. Stanback was the main cog in a deep but productive running back core that amassed 1,668 yards on the ground. The junior tailback netted 697 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the crop of backs. Behind Stanback, Dontravious Wilson, the second leading rusher and Micah Reed, the third leading rusher have returned to help the UCF offense. Wilson and Reed combined to amass 570 yards on the ground last season and provide a nice compliment to the likely starter Stanback. Defensively the Knights face a similar situation to its receiving departures. UCF’s top-five tacklers have since departed, leaving holes to be filled on the defensive side of the ball. 405 tackles, 33 tackles for a loss, eight interceptions and five forced fumbles have departed. Thomas Niles, a senior defensive lineman, leads the returning crop of players with 49 tackles last season. However, defensive back Jacoby Glenn is back for his junior campaign and is one of the most dangerous secondary players in the nation. Glenn’s 48 tackles last season were fine production but his seven interceptions helped him asserted himself as one of the finest defensive backs in, not only the conference, but the entire nation. Niles and Glenn serve as the most significant and experienced defensive returners from a defense that held teams to 2,525 passing yards and forced 18 interceptions. Outside of them, however, the Knights have far more questions than answers and teams will likely find ways to exploit the inexperienced defen
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