CoogFans' Opponent Preview - UCF

Coach George O'Leary led UCF to their third ever bowl appearance in 2009 and all of those have been since Coach O'Leary took over the team in 2004. And on paper this looks like the best team UCF has ever had.

UCF Knights
Conference USA

2009 Record: (8-5, 6-2)
2009 Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl vs Rutgers (L 24-45)
Coach: George O'Leary (34-41 at UCF, 86-74 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Charlie Taaffe
Defensive Coordinator: Dave Huxtable

Returning Leaders
Rushing: Brynn Harvey, RB, 1,109 yards
Passing: Rob Calabrese, QB, 260 yards
Receiving: Kamar Aiken, WR, 610 yards
Tackles: Derrick Hallman, LB, 85
Sacks: Bruce Miller, DE, 13.0
Interceptions: Josh Robinson, CB, 6

Other Key Returnees: CB Justin Boddie, G Theo Goins, WR A.J. Guyton, S Kemal Ishmael, G Cliff McCray, TE Adam Nissley, OT Nick Pieschel, OT Jah Reid, DE David Williams, LB Lawrence Young
Key Losses: C Ian Bustillo, DE Jarvis Geathers, S Michael Greco, QB Brett Hodges, LB Cory Hogue, WR Rocky Ross, DT Travis Timmons, DT Torell Troup

Coach George O'Leary led UCF to their third ever bowl appearance in 2009 and all of those have been since Coach O'Leary took over the team in 2004. And on paper this looks like the best team UCF has ever had. The Knights have lost all three of those bowl appearances and the next step will be to actually win a bowl game.

Strengths:
In Conference USA it is tough to have a good defense, but that is what has separated UCF from most of the other teams in the conference. The team ranked sixth in the nation last year by tallying nearly three sacks per game. Defensive end and reigning conference player of the year, Bruce Miller, is back after totaling 13.0 sacks and 18.0 tackles-for-loss. Fellow end David Williams also returns, but some new faces will have to clog the middle of the line if the Knights hope to have one of the best rush defenses in the nation again this season. The linebackers are strong with the return of Derrick Hallman and Lawrence Young and the secondary did a superb job last season. The secondary was young in 2009, starting freshman Kemal Ishmael at free safety and Josh Robinson at corner. They will only get better with experience.

Weaknesses:
Quarterback Rob Calabrese started the first three games last year, but was pulled in favor of the now departed Brett Hodges. Calabrese threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions last year, but he is just 2-8 as a starter. This is Calabrese's job to lose..again, but freshman Jeffrey Godfrey will be waiting in the wings. The good news for the offense and Calabrese is that the offensive line returns four starters, but the loss of center Ian Bustillo is a big one. UCF also has a talented group at wide receiver led by A.J. Guyton, Quincy McDuffie and Kamar Aiken. Whether or not any of the quarterbacks can actually get them the ball is the bigger question.

The Bottom Line:
If the passing game falters, UCF will have to look to the ground game. That would not be a bad thing at all if Brynn Harvey, who rushed for 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, was healthy. However, Harvey is expected to miss at least the first four games of the season. That leaves speedster Jonathan Davis, sophomore Brendan Kelly and Iowa transfer Jeff Brinson left to carry the load. The stable of players at running back are pretty good, but they do lack experience and the rushing game has to be successful if the team is going to be successful. If the Knights have to rely on their defense to win games, they will get beat by some of the more talented offensive teams in the conference who will simply be able to outscore UCF.

2009 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 130.54 (82nd in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 210.31 (69, 8)
Total Offense: 340.85 (87, 10)
Scoring Offense: 26.15 (67, 8)
Rushing Defense: 82.77 (4, 1)
Pass Defense: 267.77 (113, 9)
Total Defense: 350.54 (48, 1)
Scoring Defense: 22.54 (42, 2)
Turnover Margin: .62 (17, 4)
Sacks: 2.92 (6, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.54 (95, 10)


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