The Knights of UCF still do not garner much attention on the national stage, but that is not due to a lack of results. The Fiesta Bowl champions from two seasons ago followed that up with a most respectable 9 win season in 2014. The team will only return 10 starters this year, but look for a strong recruiting class and equally top notch coaching staff to keep them in contention in the American Athletic Conference.
Last season at this them, the Knights were wondering who the starting quarterback would be. They seem to have found the answer, as Justin Holman has a strong campaign in his sophomore year, passing for 2952 yards, with 23 touchdowns. He did have 14 interceptions, however, so look for him to improve in that area. He should be ready to have a break out year at the helm with nobody competing with him for the starting job. A backfield and offensive line that is quite experienced will assist him. Running back Will Stanback will be back, fresh off missing several games last season due to injury. Even with that, however, he was named to the all-conference team having rushed for just under 700 yards and completing 10 touchdown runs. All but one of the linemen will be returning this year. If the team can get center and guard Joey Grant back at full strength, then the line should be set. The one big problem for the team appears to be at wide receiver. The Knights must replace just about every key position player from last season. This includes Breshad Perriman, who left early to go to the NFL, taking him 1,000+ yard seasons. Jordan Skins is returning, but he only caught 12 passes last season. It is believed that redshirt freshman Tre’Quan Smith is the most talented member of this group, but he is as of yet untested. He has, however, shown some great promise in spring training sessions to this point.
Last season’s team had a defense that finished fifth in the nation in total defense at just 300 yards per game. They also finished 9th in scoring defense as just over 10 points per game. Seven starters from that group are now gone, however, but hopefully juniors Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Killings can fill the gaps, along with redshirt freshmen Kyle Gibson and Chris Williams. The strength of the unit will likely be the defensive line. They will be led once again by senior Thomas Niles. He finished last year with 7.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss, which was tops for the team. All in all, despite losing so many key players, UCF should be right back up there to compete in the conference and get a quality bowl appearance to showcase their stuff on the national stage once again.
Although the Knights haven’t had much success lately, they’ll look to turn everything around and become a winning team. Their toughest match ups of the season will be against Stanford and Connecticut which will both prove to be two big tests for this UCF team. Head Coach George O’Leary believes that his team will come out of this season with a good record and could get an invite to a bowl game.
Courtesy of the University of Central Florida