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25 Questions: UCF


Where are the Knights at:

UCF is truly one of the up and coming programs in college athletics. On top of a massive student body of fifty three thousand they sit in the Orlando Market and have an administration which is willing to make the investments in physical plant needed to get to the next level. Most folks have them on the short list of programs that might get a call up to the Big East should they need to reload.

The Football program is led by creative resume aficionado George O'Leary. O'Leary has done a pretty impressive job turning the Knights into a respectable Conference USA Program. If you take out his first season (0-11) he is 35-30 with two division titles and three bowl bids (but no Bowl wins)

Season High Point:

Blowing out South Dakota. Sure the Coyotes are an FCS team, but they were good enough to take down Minnesota. It's early so I am sure beating down a prairie state IAA team will fall down the list of 'accomplishments' this season but for now its all they have.

Season Low Point:

Five turnovers against North Carolina State cost the Knights one of those wins, over a BCS conference member, that every mid major likes to have under its belt. The Knights had overcome four of those fumbles when they coughed up the ball deep in NCState territory (inside the 10). With 51 seconds left UCF lost their last chance to tie the game.


Do they take care of the Ball?

The game against NC State is an outlier, last season the knights turned the ball over about one and a half times a game. Not stellar, but stingy enough.

How is their Passing Offense?

Bad enough that they may bench Rob Calabrese go with freshman Jeff Godfrey hen they get to Amherst. Calabrese's career numbers are not terrible but the two picks (including the last one that was returned for a touchdown) are enough to move O'Leary.

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Rob Calabrese Career Numbers

Att Comp Int Yards TD Conv
2010 33 22 2 282 1 0
2009 46 25 0 260 3 0
2008 165 65 5 664 7 0

How is their Rushing Offense?

They have a respectable running game, led by Jonathan Davis who seems to be filling in well for Brynn Harvey, the all conference (honorable mention) back that went down this spring. The Diminutive Davis fits well into the offense and is at nearly four yards per carry. Jeffrey Godfrey in at Quarterback adds a very real running threat.

How are their Receivers?

It's a pretty solid group with a ton of game experience. For the most part they are not speedsters but they are fast enough, and big enough to hurt you (especially McDuffie).

In past years these layers have had some trouble holding onto the ball and Quincy McDuffie coughed up the ball on the ten yard line with under a minute left to go.

How about their offensive line?

The Knights gave up more than two and a half sacks last season, they return four starters. I don't expect this will be one of the better lines UB faces this season. They are, on the whole, a slow unit far slower than what we had to deal with in Waco.

Are they High Powered?

Way too many variables to know, they only put up 14 offensive points on NC State (should have been 21 if not for the late fumble). Offensively this is not an incredibly potent team, but they can break the occasional play.

How Well do they convert on 3rd?

Last season the floated around 40% which was middle of the pack league wide. So far this season they are nearly the same but that's with just two games (one against an FCS opponent)

NC State held the Knights to 1-11, an abysmal 9% conversion rate.

Can their offense close a drive?

After the NC State game its hard to say 'yes' but technically that was not a red zone drive and the pass play originated outside the 20. When the Ball is inside the 20 UCF is nearly perfect. They have scored all eight times they get in the red zone with seven touchdowns and one field goal.


How Good is their defense?

This might be the best defense in Conference USA, if they don't finish the season #1, they will likely finish top 3. They have always had a top running defense but the secondary, flush with returning starters, look to improve this season.

Do they take the Ball Away?

So far it's night and day from 2009. Last season the Knights had nearly 30 takeaways in 13 games. So far this season they are at zero and last in their conference. Either the takeaway fairy is not going to visit them this year or they are due for an explosion.

Can they stop the Run?

Yes Bruce Miller, the star defensive end in their 4-3 set anchors a line that currently sits at fourth in their conference.

Can they stop the Pass?

Yes and no. UCF has not had too  much trouble creating pressure but QB's have been able to take advantage of a suspect secondary over the past several years. With all the experience, and coaching focus, they should be better this year and so far they are ranked 8th in the nation.

How do they perform on third downs?

Last season they were in the bottom third of all teams, but they did keep NC State to under 33% this past week and are ranked in the top third so far this season.

How is their red zone defense?

Same story, last year they were in lower tier of all teams and this year they are doing considerably better. The thing to remember is that conference USA is a very offensively based league so it's likely that their numbers will somewhat increase.

How well do they get after the QB?

Three sacks against NC State and last season they averaged almost three a game. Even when you consider that CUSA is a ass happy conference that is very impressive, and they bring back a lot of the front seven that made that happen.

Do they get after you in the backfield?

13th in the nation last season with almost eight per game, so far this year they are in the top third of all teams.

Special Teams:

How is their return game?

You've seen Buffalo's kickoff coverage? No need to talk about UCF's return game, just watch and be afraid

How well do they defend returns?

One thing about the Knights is that they are solid on special teams, all around. Right now they are in the top 15 top kickoff and punt coverage.

How well do they Kick?

Ok maybe not *ALL* around, their field goal kicking is not awful but it's not particularly solid. They only kicked 70% on FG's last season and are an underwhelming 50% so far this season.

How Well do they Punt?

Not anything to brag about but also nothing to really hang your head about. 38 yards per kick is an average number.

How good are the Knights on the road?

The Knights seem to be the same team no matter where they play (for better or for worse). Last season most of their road losses came to teams that would have likely beat them at home.

How Big is this game for Each Team?

The loser of this game is staring at 1-3 out of conference (Though I give the Knights a better shot against K-State than I give us against UConn). Buffalo is going to have a lot more trouble getting six conference wins than UCF will so this is a bigger game for Buffalo.