Over the month of August, our team of writers will be previewing the top teams heading into an exciting 2011 campaign. The college football handicappers at Maddux Sports are also preparing and have season-long packages readily available for clients. Let’s take a closer look at a school that won its second Conference USA Championship in four years.
2010 record: 11-3, 7-1 conference
2010 Bowl Game: 10-6 win over Georgia in Liberty Bowl
2010 ATS: 11-3
2010 O/U: 7-7
Returning starters: 10 (six on offense, four on defense)
Sophomore quarterback Jeff Godfrey seemingly passed every test that came his way and was named C-USA Freshman of the Year. He led the league in passing efficiency and threw 13 touchdowns, while also scoring 10 times on the ground.
All three players who rushed for at least 10 touchdowns last year are back, including Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver. Adding even more depth to the unit is Brynn Harvey, who earned a medical redshirt in 2010, but opponents are well aware of his ability due to gaining 1,109 yards on the ground the previous year.
Offensively, the team ranked fifth in the league in scoring 32.1 points per game, while averaging over 185 yards a game through the air and on the ground.
A team’s strength over the last three years, may become a weakness during the 2011 campaign, as just four returners come back. UCF has led the conference in total defense in each of the last three years, marking the first time that has ever happened.
Back-to-back C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Miller is gone and the days of holding opponents to just 17.1 points per game, a figure that ranked eighth nationally just a year ago.
Defensive end Darius Nall will need to step up his game even further from his 8.5 sacks last year and earning second-team All-Conference USA. He is a pass-rush specialist and someone coordinator John Skladany relies on for speed on the edge.
This unit could be a major weakness in close games this season, especially considering the team posted an 11-3 record despite outscoring opponents by just 47 points last year.
Senior kicker Nick Cattoi is hardly automatic and made 11-of-19 field goal attempts. His long for the year was 47 yards and he was also 47-of-50 on PATs.
Punter David Bohner appeared in five games and finished the season with eight punts for 301 yards (37.6 average). His career-long is 49 yards.
Field position is a valuable thing and wide receiver Quincy McDuffie is irreplaceable in that regard, ranking second in the nation by averaging 32.19 yards per kickoff return.
Against the Spread
The Knights have been a profitable 19-6 ATS over the last two years due to a dominating defense, including a 7-1 ATS mark as a road favorite.
Playing UCF on the road against East Carolina on November 19 is likely to be a smart move, as the Knights are 3-0 in the last three meetings, including a 49-35 home win last year. Bettors will find that the college football point spread in that contest had the team favored by eight points.
Playing back-to-back games on the road against FIU and BYU will likely take its toll on the squad, even with a bye week to follow. UCF is 1-5 ATS in its last six opportunities with at least a week of rest.