UCF FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW:
The University of Central Florida (UCF) has been one of the up-and-coming football programs over the past several years, gaining respect around Conference-USA and sending a steady stream of players to the NFL. During the 2011 season, the UCF Knights fielded a fairly young squad which finished with a 5-7 record and a 3-5 record in C-USA. After opening the season with big wins over Charleston Southern and Boston College, the Knights were in every game that they played and could have easily finished with a much better record. Another year older and wiser, the Knights look to take the next step toward C-USA dominance and respect in the national rankings.
During 2012, it looks like the Knights will hand over the keys to their offense to redshirt freshman Blake Bortles, who has shined during spring practices. He will have a talented backfield to work with, as running backs Brynn Harvey and Latavius Murray will once again shoulder the load for the offense. The Knights have an impressive group of tight ends and receivers with senior Kevin Garvey as a major threat on the line and Quincy McDuffie and J.J. Worton offering plenty of speed on the outside. The team's offensive line looks like one of the strongest units on the team, with a bevy of offensive starters and depth positions that should keep them playing consistently throughout the season.
On defense, the Knights will receive a boost from a stronger and more versatile defensive line, led by last year's sacks leader, Troy Davis, at defensive end. The Knights have one of the most athletic groups of linebackers in Conference-USA, with new middle linebacker Terrance Plummer joining a veteran group of tacklers. In the secondary, returning starter A.J. Bouye and newcomer Brandon Alexander will hold down the cornerback spots, while Clayton Geathers and Kemal Ishmael will patrol the middle of the field.
The 2012 schedule is much tougher than it was last year, as the Knights will face a handful of Top 25-worthy programs like Ohio State and Missouri, as well as emerging C-USA teams like Southern Miss and East Carolina. If the Knights can get consistent pressure from their defensive line and steady play out of new quarterback Blake Bortles in the beginning of the season, this could be one of the most exciting years of UCF football that fans have seen in quite some time.
UCF KNIGHTS INFORMATION:
Location: Orlando, Florida
Stadium: Bright House Networks Field
Conference: Conference USA
Rivals: Marshall Thundering Herd, South Florida Bulls
Notable Alumni: Daunte Culpepper, Brandon Marshall, Doug Gabriel
Notable Bowl Games:
The UCF football program was founded in 1979 under volunteer head coach Don Jonas. The Knights started in Division III but would move all the way up to Division I-A (now Division I FBS) in 1996. The Knights would upset Alabama in Tuscaloosa in 2000, really putting the team on the map as both tough on the road and as giant killers. UCF would join the MAC in 2002 and Conference USA in 2005. They would play for their first conference championship in 2005 and lose, but in 2007 UCF won its first Conference USA title against Tulsa. UCF has sent some talented players to the NFL including Daunte Culpepper and Asante Samuel.
The UCF Knights used to play their home games at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Starting in 2007, the Knights began play in their own Bright House Networks Stadium on campus. Their inaugural game in the new stadium against the #6 Texas Longhorns was an exciting one, with Texas just barely avoiding the upset, winning 35-32. Buy UCF Knights football tickets today and watch this young program continue to dominate the Conference USA and vie for a BCS bowl bid!
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