AAC Team Preview: UCF

Demo previews UCF to kick off Pony Stampede's AAC team preview series!

UCF will tackle 2015 without 15 of the Knights on last season’s roster, however to pretend as if all those players will be missed equally would be a foolish. Making up the list of “most likely to be missed” are DBs Jacoby Glen, Clayton Greathers, WRs Breshard Perriman and Rannell Hall, LBs Terrance Plummer and Troy Gray TE Justin Tukes, and G Torrian Wilson. So for thouse keeping track at home that is two starting linebackers, two starting defensive backs, a starting offensive lineman, a starting tight end and two of your top wide receivers. That isn’t even taking into account all the other talent saying goodbye to Central Florida.

So, let’s take a closer look at this and really dig into what the Knights are losing.


Offense

In addition to Perriman and Hall, the Knights must also bid adieu to Josh Reese and JJ Worton. That is there top four receivers for 2014 (in that order). This group of receivers accounted for 174 catches, 2580 yard and 23 touchdowns. Those numbers aren’t going to magically be replaced. Tukes only added a handful of catches—five to be exact—but his real contribution to the offense was blocking and taking up space. No matter what other changes you look at on the UCF roster, you keep coming back to the receivers.

If you’re UCF, you got to be hoping sophomores like Jordan Akins and Tre-Quan Smith just explode onto the scene. At 6-3, 237 pounds, Akins is a big target and can stretch the field…some. He will probably be used a ton in the red zone, but his athleticism can’t be ignored. Especially if paired with Smith. The sophomore is speedster. He clocks in with a 40 time of 4.5s but he seems to kick it into another gear on the field. If, the two can perform up to and beyond expectations, they could be a deadly 1-2 punch.

It will all depend on how they will mesh with quarterback Justin Hollman. Last season as a sophomore, he put up decent numbers; 23 touchdowns 14 interceptions and almost 3,000 passing yards. He isn’t a typical dual threat quarterback, with blazing speed, but he is fast enough to tuck it and run if he needs to. Given lest years performance and his obvious grasp of the system, I don’t see why he wouldn’t get the nod under center.


Defense

On the other side of the ball, it is just as dicey. It’s hard losing four starters, especially when they were all huge impact players. I failed to mention Jordan Oziertes and Brandon Alexander earlier and if you include them, then the Knights are losing five of their top six tacklers and six of their defensive starters.

Oziertes, Alexander, Glenn, and Geathers made up the Knights secondary while Plummer and Gray bolstered the middle. Again, it is incredibly tough to replace that many starters. But Errol Clarke—who is a senior this season—will be looking to replace either hole left by Plummer and Gary. Last season he notched 30 tackles in four starts and prior to going to UCF, he was 247 Sports’ No. 1 JUCO inside linebacker.

Sophomore Kyle Gibson is about as green as you can get as he didn’t play a minute last season, but he is a 4-star recruit. He’ll be competing with Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Killings for those two outside corner spots. Drico Johnson—a former wide out—will be looking to take on one of the safety roles this season. The only game action he saw at the position last season was at the Botcoin St. Petersburg Bowl when Alexander was hurt.


Bottom Line

UCF will be dealing with a lot of turnover this season. There is a chance they built the program the right way and the next man up will be good enough to equal or surpass his predecessor in performance on the field…or it could all crash and burn. Like I keep saying, replacing productive veterans is tough. There are so many unknowns when transition from every game, every-play type guys to those that have seen maybe a handful of minutes in an actual game. When it comes to the state of the team, this is pretty close to rebuilding…but the politician in me would say they are in a “state of transition.”


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