2014 Central Florida Knights Team Preview
Central Florida Knights
Head Coach: George O’Leary
2013 Record: 12-1 overall, 8-0 American Athletic Conference
2013 Bowl Result: Beat Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 6 offense, 9 defense
Odds to win 2015 College Football Championship Game: 500/1
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Last year, the Central Florida Knights had the best season in school history with a 12-1 record. The only blemish on the record was a 28-25 loss at home to South Carolina. The Knights went 8-0 in their first year in the American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East and won the conference. They gave Louisville their only loss of the season 38-35. UCF would beat Big 12 champion Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Fifteen starters are back but coach George O’Leary must replace a lot of players at the skill positions.
The Knights averaged 282 passing and 160 rushing yards per game. UCF scored 35 points per game. Six starters are back on offense for coordinator Charlie Taaffe.
Quarterback Blake Bortles was the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bortles threw for 3,581 yards with 25 touchdowns and 9 interceptions and also rushed for 272 yards with 6 touchdowns. It looks like Justin Holman, Bortles’ back-up last season will be the starter in 2014. Holman had a slight lead in camp over Boise State transfer Nick Patti who is eligible immediately after being granted a special waiver by the NCAA. Freshmen Pete DiNovo and Tyler Harris are also in the mix. Holman took a handful of snaps last season.
Running back Storm Johnson is also with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had 213 carries for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns, and also had 30 catches for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sophomore Will Stanback will take over as the feature back after he had 105 carries for 443 yards and 6 touchdowns, and also made 15 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Rannell Hall is back after making 57 catches for 886 yards and 5 touchdowns, and also rushing for 121 yards on just 14 carries with a touchdown. Junior Breshad Perriman had 39 catches for 811 yards and 4 touchdowns. Senior J.J. Worton had 47 catches for 721 yards and 7 touchdowns. John Reese could get more targets after making 21 catches for 252 yards and a touchdown. Besides Johnson, the only other top receiver to depart is Jeff Godfrey who had 43 catches for 406 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jackie Williams, a transfer from UAB will be the slot receiver.
The offensive line must replace three starters and doesn’t have much experience at tackle.
Central Florida was #29 in total defense and #17 in scoring defense allowing 21 points a game. UCF was especially good at stopping the run allowing 123 yards per game on the ground. Nine starters are back from that young defense last year under coordinator Tyson Summers.
The only area that the Knights need to improve on defense is in pass rushing as they only had 29 sacks in 13 games last season. Ends Thomas Niles, Luke Adams and Deion Green look to improve on that in 2014. The line also added JUCO tackle Lance McDowdell into the mix.
Middle linebacker Terrance Plummer is one of the team leaders and will headline a strong unit. The linebackers added JUCO transfer Errol Clarke.
Freshman All-American Jacoby Glenn returns at corner. Safeties Clayton Geathers and Brandon Alexander are both seniors. Shaquill Griffin should start at the other corner and could also play some nickelback. Freshmen Kyle Gibson and Chris Williams will also see time in the rotation.
Senior kicker Shawn Moffitt made 21 of 23 field goals last year. Punter Caleb Houston is also back averaged 41 yards per punt last season. Williams averaged 9.6 yards per punt return at UAB with a touchdown. Worton has been an all-conference returner and will return kicks.
Outlook / Schedule
UCF opens the season in Dublin, Ireland against Penn State. They then travel to Missouri and could easily be 0-2. The Knights host Bethune-Cookman and BYU in non-conference games. In AAC play, UCF hosts Tulane, Temple, Tulsa and SMU. The Knights travel to Houston, Connecticut, South Florida and East Carolina. Trips to Houston and East Carolina won’t be easy, but they should win at least 8 games in 2014 and contend with Cincinnati for the conference title. UCF and Cincinnati do not play each other this season.
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